“Find reasons for your later-self to look back on this 'lost time' and feel grateful for it. It is an extremely challenging time, but within boundaries, we can find opportunities and growth.”

– Olympian Alexi Pappas gives her advice on coping during the pandemic.

Wellness Tip

Get Lost in a Book

Bookworms rejoice: curling up with your dog-eared copy of Harry Potter is officially a form of self-care.

Studies show that reading fiction does us good:

  • By mentally stepping into the shoes of fictional characters, we become more empathetic and socially-aware. And the more vividly we transport ourselves into the story, the better.
  • Reading actually changes our brains in a visible way (well, visible on an MRI ). That process of transporting ourselves into the story? It has real biological effects. “The neural changes that we found associated with physical sensation [...] suggest that reading a novel can transport you into the body of the protagonist,” say researchers.
  • Reading improves memory and helps to keep Alzheimer’s at bay.
  • Relaxing with a good book reduces stress levels – measurably. In one study, stress plummeted by up to 68%, making reading more effective than listening to music or drinking tea.

As you can see, enjoying a good book isn’t a guilty indulgence. It’s a powerful tool for health and wellness.

It’s also an ideal activity to do before bed (provided you avoid reading on bright screens). Try adding 20 minutes of reading into your evening routine and see what benefits you can reap.

So… what book are you going to pick up next?

Productivity Tip:

Munch On Some Brain-Boosting Snacks

Ah, snacks. They distract and delight, enliven and entertain. All things we’ve needed in 2020.

But when it comes to productivity, how you snack matters. Here’s how to better fuel your brain as well as your body:

  • Low blood sugar leads to low self-control , so crush snack-attacks with low-GI foods (foods rich in protein and whole grains, for example).
  • If you want to “flourish” in daily life, eat carrots (or any fruit and veg, really!). So says science.
  • Get in added Omega 3s via snacks like nuts and seeds. Omega 3s are known to boost cognitive function, mood, memory, and more.

So when you’re trying to work and the hunger is creeping in, avoid the sugar rollercoaster and aim for some brain food instead. Or, in a nutshell – nuts not donuts (pardon the pun).

Also, remember that stocking your cupboards with healthy food options will limit temptation and nudge you in the right direction.

How’s your snack situation stacking up? Will you try switching over to some brain-boosting snacks tomorrow? Check out this list for more snack ideas.

Routine Breakdown

Adèle McLay, Business Growth Consultant, Author & Speaker

As a motivational speaker, consultant, and mother, Adèle McLay manages to fit in a heck of a morning routine before she starts work at 8. How does she do it? By rising at 4.15 am. From there, she :

  • Has 15 minutes of gratitude time
  • Does a 1-hour bodybuilding session with a personal trainer.
  • Spends 30 minutes in “meditation and visioning time” where she focuses on achieving her goals and dreams.
  • Has half an hour of family time before starting work.

Why it works:

  • Gratitude rocks. There’s plenty of research to prove it – here’s a great roundup of the findings
  • Pumping weights has some benefits over cardio. Weight training builds lean muscle mass and keeps you burning calories after your workout ends. That said, combining the two ticks off more of the benefit boxes.
  • Thinking about and visualizing our goals helps us achieve them. But it’s better to visualize the process rather than just the results (more on this below).
  • Quality relationships are key to our wellbeing. So sneaking some family time into your morning routine is never a bad idea.

Let’s talk a bit more about goal visioning and visualization. Obviously, we need to think about and define our goals (visioning) before we can achieve them. That’s step one. As we progress toward those goals, visualization can be a powerful tool.

Here’s how this works in practice.

First, lay out your goals for the week. The new Panda Planner Daily 2.0 has a dedicated section where you can do this, so grab yourself one of those if you can! Then, in your daily planning, break those goals down into actionable tasks and schedule in time to complete them.

Lastly, visualize yourself actually carrying out and successfully completing those tasks. Imagining the outcome but not the process can backfire . Focus on the process, and you’ll get a headstart on achieving your goals.

Give it a try – and let us know how you do!