Image credit: Creative Commons.Written by Marissa Miller, Four Green Steps.com
Is your Blackberry calendar starting to look like a Jackson Pollock painting? Our brains are complicated organs, but creating the right schedule can simplify things drastically. Fill in the empty time-slots with a mix of leisurely and productive activities, and soon enough, your body will adapt to this healthy second-nature routine.
7 am: Cardiovascular activity, including jogging, stationary biking, aerobics classes, release endorphins that help keep your mood heightened all day. After your morning cup of java, a half hour of heart-pumping won't seem to be such a daunting of task. Eating a carbohydrate-rich dinner the night before, such as whole wheat pasta, will ensure that your glycogen stores can sufficiently power your morning workout. Plus, your runner's high afterglow could replace your blush and leave you strutting with confidence all day long.
7:30 am: Breathe in and out for at least ten minutes and stretch your body and mind into shape. After your workout, your newly honed muscles need room to grow. Now there will be no excuse to neglect taking the stairs at work since your joints won't be as tight as your sneakers' shoelaces.
9 am: Now that blood is circulating throughout your body, it's guaranteed to reach your brain. Take advantage of the clarity in your mind by memorizing facts for an exam or tackling that impossible-to-read philosophy book. Arthur Kramer, PhD, a neuroscientist at the University of Illinois also says that "exercise increases brain function, memory retention and other key areas of cognition up to 20 percent." The confidence you've gained from the previous physical activities will also help you fuel these challenging mental tasks.
2 pm: If you have the luxury of having a bed beside your desk, or want to use the last fifteen minutes of your lunch break wisely, studies at the University of California at Berkeley suggest taking a nap. After eating lunch, your body is dedicating most of its energy to your digestive tract so that you can metabolize what you've just eaten. Beat the afternoon yawns with a fifteen minute shut-eye session to leave you rejuvenated enough to attack that Mount Kilimanjaro-sized stack of papers. Set an alarm for a maximum of twenty minutes, as anything longer will leave you groggy and disoriented.
3 pm: Neither you nor your audience members will be cranky with hunger or fatigue, so opt to schedule that meeting or presentation mid-afternoon. After that nap, effortlessly woo your boss or teacher with your articulacy - that is, hoping they didn't hear your snores from down the hall.
10 pm: Believe it or not, some people do forget to relax. And while you may think stressing about every issue at school or work will help you tackle the job more meticulously, it is actually destroying your body. When you get anxious, your brain releases the stress hormone cortisol, which leads to bodily tension and inflammation. Chronic stress also attacks the hippocampus, destroying your brain's memory center. Don't feel guilty about lighting a scented candle, talking on the phone with your boyfriend for an hour or closing your eyes listening to Michael Bublé. You are actually preserving your brain's most important function!
11 pm: While foods like turkey, bread and warm milk release the sleep-inducing hormone called tryptophan, you can achieve a similar calorie-free tranquil state by simply turning off the lights. Laptops, televisions, and I-pods are all reminiscent of the stress associated with your day, so turn them off an hour before bed. Doze for a solid 7-8 hours and repeat.