3 ways to refresh and renew for 2020 !

3 ways to refresh and renew for 2020 !

Original publication in mindful.org on december 27th 2019

Rather than brainstorming ways to improve your life in the new year, practicing mindfulness helps you accept the life you already have—and embrace it for all that it is.

The week leading up to the New Year can be a source of anxiety as we consider all the changes we should make to “better” ourselves. Rather than brainstorming ways to improve your life, practicing mindfulness helps you accept the life you already have—and embrace it for all that it is.

Here are three ways to feel refreshed and renewed, without the resolutions:

1) First, befriend your life as it is

It’s common to daydream about an idyllic and successful future (who amongst us hasn’t practiced their Oscar acceptance speech?) but spending too much time thinking about how things could be “one day” prevents us from appreciating how things are right now.

Learning to befriend all moments places us firmly in the life we are living, rather than the ideal life we are prone to imagine or strive towards. “The shift from aversion to befriending is the most radical shift any student of mindfulness can make,” says Willem Kuyken PhD, Director of the Oxford Mindfulness Centre. “Befriending involves being curious, friendly, and kind, and is a capacity that we can all develop toward ourselves and our experiences. It is available to all of us, and is the home where our hearts and minds dwell,” says Kuyken. Here, he offers a mindfulness practice to find meaning in every moment.

2) Then, add purpose to each new day

Finding a sense of purpose can feel like an intimidating task—but it doesn’t have to be. Tapping into purpose can be as simple as taking a moment to decide, “I’m going to say thank you more,” or “I’m going to call my sister today.”

Your day-to-day activities offer ample opportunities to call up mindfulness in any moment. Breathe space into your morning routine with this simple wake-up practice to slow down and start each day with greater intention.

3) Finally, find a support system

There’s no doubt about it—our relationships help us thrive. Whether you’re trying to conquer Mount Everest or simply get over a bad day, having someone by your side to support you can make all the difference.

Building communities of care creates a culture of compassion and accountability, inspiring you to be the best version of yourself. Here are four ways to create a community of care and surround yourself with supportive people.

Here’s hoping you all find moments to enjoy being mindful this week.


10 Tips for Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

10 Tips for Rest, Recovery and Rejuvenation

Written by by 

The Season for Stillness

We tumble to the end of another warp-speed year. We spin through our tasks and grasp at floods of information.

We press too hard, too fast and for too long. Reservoirs are sucked dry. Self-awareness fades. Self-regulation is impaired. Your health and your relationships are at risk.

It is time to slow down, repair, rejuvenate and reconnect with what matters.

In a world of optimisation, ambition, pride and duty, we push hard on multiple fronts. The rest, recovery and rejuvenation cycle is squeezed out between ever shorter bursts of dopamine. We are child-like in our impulsive tapping, swiping, checking, buying, rushing, feeding… compelled to chase the next hit.

As I come to the end of 2019, I feel battered. My mind is a little flat. Attention is fragile. Relationships are edgy. I know I need a good break. I am struggling to disconnect, calm my hypervigilance, and allow the natural cycle of recovery. I sense it in our family, friends and colleagues.

Rest, recovery and rejuvenation (R3) is the next competitive edge. Ironic!

My end of year message it to give rest, recovery and rejuvenation your full attention.

At a cellular level, the R3 cycle is vital to repair and rejuvenation. It is the key to longevity and sits at the biochemical core of fasting, sleep quality, intense activity, meditation, and cold water baths. It is a promising solution that supports this process of slowing, cleaning and repairing hard working cells.

The R3 cycle is key to musculoskeletal strength and physical wellbeing. Intimacy, touch and dreaming (REM) sleep stimulate the R3 cycle for emotional wellbeing. The default network is the R3 cycle for cognition allowing us to focus, engage and refresh our minds.

Our end-of-year pause is an opportunity to capture the R3 cycle for life and family. Please make an effort to allow for adequate rest, recovery and rejuvenation as your year comes to an end. Engage your family in this process so that you may reconnect in more intimate ways.

Share what works well for you.

10 tips to have a Good Night’s sleep

10 tips to have a Good Night’s sleep

Original publication in Thrive Global on August 29th 2019

To avoid sleepless nights and set yourself up for success the next day, try one of these science-backed steps.

If you have trouble getting into a regular sleep pattern, establishing clear morning and nighttime routines can help you fall asleep more easily and wake up feeling refreshed, leading to greater productivity all day. It doesn’t need to be complicated or time-consuming, but sticking to a schedule has a calming effect and can relieve stress

Here, two sleep scientists give their suggestions.

In the Morning:

Pick a wake-up time and stick to it  

“Setting the same wake-up time every morning is essential and it’s best to maintain that every day, even on the weekends,” says Cheri Mah, M.D., a physician scientist specializing in sleep and performance at the University of California, San Francisco (U.C.S.F.) Human Performance Center. 

“There’s no right or wrong time to get up,” Christopher Winter, M.D., Director of the Charlottesville Neurology and Sleep Medicine Center, tells Thrive. “If you want to tackle the day at 7 a.m. or 10 a.m., either is perfectly fine, just stick to that time.” He notes that if you do need to get up earlier occasionally, that’s OK, but it’s better not to sleep beyond your regular wake-up time. 

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, the minimum recommended sleep for healthy adults is seven hours a night, but just as everybody is a little different, everyone’s sleep needs can differ as well; you may need more than the recommended hours of sleep to feel fully rested.  

Tidy your bedroom in the morning 

Dr. Winter, the author of The Sleep Solution: Why Your Sleep Is Broken and How To Fix It, suggests making your bed every morning and keeping your room neat. He also recommends keeping your laundry and any unsorted mail or paperwork out of sight. “It’s calming to tidy up at the start of the day so you enter a fresh, neat bedroom at night.  There is research suggesting that a neat environment helps facilitate the onset of sleep and better sleep quality,” he says.

At Sleep Number, 73 percent of Sleep Number® SleepIQ® sleepers make their bed every day. Compared to those who don’t make their bed, this group wakes up 20 minutes earlier but they’re more rested; they end up getting four more minutes of restful, good sleep.* Those four minutes may not sound like much, but could add up to much more quality shut-eye and energy over time.

Exercise outside or somewhere bright

Exercise is a great way to start your day, says Dr. Mah, who is a sleep specialist working with elite and professional athletes, along with her academic work. “Regular exercise can be beneficial for healthy sleep, and morning sunlight is a strong stimulus to lock in your body clock and keep you on a regular schedule,” Dr. Mah tells Thrive.

Dr. Winter adds that exercising somewhere bright, whether it’s outdoors or in a well-lit indoor space, helps wake up your brain for a more productive start. “It’s great to have the contrast between a dark, cool, motionless room during the night versus, say, a bright, warm Zumba class at 7:30 a.m. That’s a fantastic way for your brain to understand when the day begins, so it can plan accordingly,” says Dr. Winter.  

In the Evening:

Don’t eat too late 

Eat dinner on the early side, says Dr. Winter. “If you drink alcohol, it’s best to have it as soon as you get home from work in the evening — and in moderation.” 

Alcohol suppresses deep sleep, delays REM sleep, is dehydrating, and is a muscle relaxer, so it often worsens breathing and can even cause sleep apnea, Dr. Winter tells Thrive. “Remember, sedation and sleep are not the same,” he says.

Establish a wind-down routine

To prepare your body to sleep, Dr. Mah suggests prioritizing a wind-down routine before your target bedtime, which can include reading, breathing exercises, yoga, stretching, or meditation. Any wind-down time is helpful, she tells Thrive, and she recommends starting with five minutes, then building up to a 20-minute routine. “Use this as a dedicated time to process your thoughts from the day and anticipate what needs to get done the following day,” Dr. Mah says. “One athlete I worked with liked to do a Rubik’s Cube before bed, and found that relaxing. There isn’t one thing that’s going to work for everyone, so find a routine that works for you.”

Switching up your after-dinner lighting options can also help. “Get dimmer switches,” advises Dr. Winter “Also, consider buying bulbs that are blue– or green-free. That will allow your brain to start generating melatonin.” 

You can find helpful bedtime routine ideas in the free Sleep30 Challenge by Sleep Number

Stay away from screens

Avoid using technology an hour before bedtime because bright screens can delay melatonin release, which is important for sleep, and prevent you from sleeping when you intend to, says Dr. Mah. “Creatively rearrange how you spend your time. Use the phone and watch TV earlier in the evening, not right before sleeping,” she advises.   

Go to bed at around the same time 

“It’s important to have a regular bedtime, because that helps our body anticipate regular sleep,” says Dr. Mah. That time doesn’t have to be set in stone, but you should aim to make your bedtime early enough to allow for seven to eight hours of sleep a night. If bedtime rolls around and you “don’t feel sleepy, try to doze off anyway with the idea that you might surprise yourself. Even if you don’t fall asleep right away, resting in bed (not sleeping) is awesome and restorative too,” says Dr. Winter. And if you do stay up a little later occasionally, don’t stress about it. 

Make bedtime joyful and relaxing

Reading a book in bed can be a great way to prep your body for sleep. Dr. Mah strongly recommends reading “real” books or magazines. “That way you’re not going to get the blue light exposure from screens, triggering your brain to stay awake. Blue light can prevent sleep and melatonin release, and that’s important for falling asleep,” she says.

Work on cultivating a feeling of joy when you climb into bed, says Dr. Winter. “Being in a comfortable bed is great,” he says. “Find the enjoyment of simply relaxing in your bed. It beats a lot of other places and situations you could find yourself in!”

What you do all day matters, too

Scientists point out that to ensure a good night’s sleep, it’s not just about morning and nighttime routines. Small changes like not drinking coffee after noon, setting regular mealtimes, making sure you find some time to move and get some light throughout the day, all contribute to a good night’s sleep. “Napping is great too, if you already sleep well at night but also feel the need for a little more shut-eye during the day,” says Dr. Winter, though if you have problems sleeping, napping might not be a good idea. “If you want the best quality rest at night, it’s all about the decisions you make in the daytime,” concludes Dr. Mah. “Healthy sleep starts with the way you navigate your day as well as making choices to optimize quality sleep at night.” 

*Based on SleepIQ® data from 1/1/19 to 1/31/19 and self-reported survey data (from a Sleep Number study) among SleepIQ® sleepers.

Reframe Fatigue

Reframe Fatigue

Research Highlight: Fatigue is a key risk

Are you often exhausted when you get home after work?

If your answer is yes, you may need a reframe.

Research Highlight: of the most successful 10% of people, only 2% scored “I am exhausted when I get home/after work” with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’. In other words they experience little fatigue.

Question: What is your relationship with fatigue

Condition: Control, own and master your energy

Discipline: Actively and skilfully combat the experience of fatigue

Caution: Prioritise your sleep, recovery and relaxation

Life is VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous). We are juggling far too much information and far too many tasks. Most of us do not rest, recover and sleep like professionals. The consequence that most clearly differentiates success and failure is fatigue.

54% of the least resilient people answer that they are exhausted when they get home “very often” or “nearly always”. Unfortunately they often tell others how tired they are.

Reframing Fatigue

Our super-skill series examined what the most successful people do. Reframing targets the top five habits that can undermine you. Fatigue is the first.

A CEO had been up all night organising a recognition of 2000 people’s excellent work. A colleague said: “you must be tired?” His answer: “I don’t do tired. It has been a great night.” Unsurprisingly, his resilience score was very high.

You may be thinking ‘what a jerk, he should be more honest.’ Our data shows that successful people do not indulge in the experience of fatigue. They find more skilful ways to reframe the situation. What if the response is: “Sure, it has been a long night but what fun. I will sleep well tonight.”

True fatigue is a very real and important signal that you need rest, recovery and sleep. Successful people know that life is demanding so they prioritise rejuvenation. There will be times when you have to work hard. When you tell others you are tired, can you really expect them to trust and respect you?

To reframe fatigue, think deeply on your relationship with fatigue. Do you experience it frequently? Do you advertise it to others? Do you take immediate action to remedy the signal?

Reframe skills for fatigue?

  1. Be alert for the fatigue signal. Check your body, emotions and thoughts. Assess it carefully and identify the level of risk. Act deliberately to remedy the situation.
  2. If you are truly exhausted, take time out for recovery and sleep. If your life and job are important to you this is your priority. Learn the lesson and establish excellent recovery disciplines. Few do this well.
  3. If you must work through fatigue here is a reframe:
    • Lengthen your posture and lift your chin
    • Breathe diaphragmatically and slow through the nose
    • Concentrate on the energy and life force in your being
    • Focus your mind and work in short, engaged bursts
  4. Never think or say: “I am tired/exhausted/fatigued/wiped out”

*Research from our sample of 21,000, click for full report.



Research Highlight: Vitality is a super skill

The statement “I enjoy vibrant, good health and high energy” separates the most successful 10% from the rest.*

What is vitality?

Vitality is both an output and an input. Those who wait for vitality to come from doctors, public services and luck will suffer.  Those who fail to invest in the foundations or take the decision to be vital fall to fatigue, illness and suffering.

Only 9% of the least resilient people score vitality with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’.

Question: What does vitality look and feel like right now?

Condition: Be fit, sleep well, relax and eat well

Discipline: Open and lengthen your posture to let energy flow

Caution: Be sure to rest, sleep and recover enough to revitalise

What you can do right now?

  1. Resist fatigue and apathy. Commit to the pursuit of vitality
  2. Lengthen your posture and exhale fully – head back and chin up
  3. As you inhale imagine energy flowing up through your body in a spiral
  4. Let your eyes sparkle with the crinkle of a smile

In the background:

  • Secure your sleep
  • Build all-round fitness
  • Relax, breathe or meditate
  • Be playful and seek to extend your creativity

*Research from our sample of 21,000, click for full report.