If we are going to be productive throughout the day how we start our day is crucial in setting ourselves up with the right frame of mind. Too simple? Well, neuroscience tells us that the impact can be quite dramatic!
Thinking about our day, visualising what we want it to look like and what our objective is, has been shown to have a significant impact in how it actually turns out. This is particularly true when we consider our emotions.
Impact of emotions
The emotions we express are contagious. The emotions we express have a psychological impact on ourselves and remarkably on others. If someone smiles, we smile back. If they grimace, we do likewise. We need to think of emotions operating from the outside in rather than from the inside out. Not only do we smile when we feel happy inside but, merely the act of smiling can influence positively how we feel inside. This emotional contagion means that simply by smiling you can make yourself feel happy! Equally if you exhibit sadness then you are likely to reinforce a sad feeling. In an experiment undertaken by Friesen and Levenson they took two groups of volunteers and had one group call to mind a stressful experience that caused them sadness, anger or fear and had a second group merely make the facial expressions of these emotions without recalling anything. They discovered that the physiological responses in both groups were the same! Merely making a sad face had the same impact physiologically as actually recalling a sad event!
So research show us that the emotions we display have an impact on well being and on how we approach the day even if we are faking it. Even if we are just thinking about the emotions we want to feel during the day. If we start with a negative approach this will permeate our minds – our subconscious, if not our conscious mind – and will influence how we engage with our day. If we start the day thinking it’s all going to be a mess and out of control then it probably will be. If we start the day thinking we are going to be stressed and being able to cope then there’s a good chance that’s how we’ll feel.
Kick it like Jonny Wilkinson
So, as we are products of our thoughts then we should start the day with some positive visualisation. When we visualise ourselves being in control and getting things done we prime the neural connections in our brains preparing us to make it happen. Watch the rugby player Jonny Wilkinson visualising the penalty kick going through the posts. He is visualising a successful kick… and more often than not he achieved it! Visualise your productive self getting on with tasks in a calm and collected way and your productivity will improve. Your minds eye rehearsal will improve your chances of success.
That’s it – Step one!
There’s more in the Social Work Shorts Podcasts