Generating positive emotion

I have ADHD expert Tracy Otsuka to thank for this tip. I have always known that mood was a big factor in my ability to get things done but an onslaught of “you should”s prevented me from recognising it as the basis of a valid productivity strategy. Believe me, it is.

It is counterintuitive. You may judge yourself for slacking and feel like you are getting no closer to your goal. Stop and reframe. This is an investment which will pay huge productivity dividends. Trust me.

😣First, identify your emotions. Are you anxious or stressed? Your brain is not designed to be productive in fight or flight mode so don’t force it. Listen to your brain and take 30 minutes to reset.

📜When in a negative emotional state it’s easy to lose sight of the route to feeling better. Create a menu of mood boosters using an automated system like the Tiny Decisions app or Alexa’s Blueprints skill (Blueprints>What to Do) to choose for you.

🎵Create a mood-booster playlist. Music increases dopamine and oxytocin levels and research shows that tunes from our youth are particularly beneficial. Dancing around to Wham at top volume immediately makes me smile.

🏋️Speaking of dance, exercise is an excellent mood-booster and improves focus. The EMKFit Youtube Channel offers quick, fun workouts on themes like the Rocky Horror Show and 80s Dance Classics. Emily’s mantra ‘wrong and strong’ is a perfect salve for the emotional scars left by PE class.

🌲Being outside is good for your brain. If you can’t go for a walk in nature can you indulge your senses in the garden for 5 minutes? Walk barefoot in the grass, smell the flowers, listen to the birds.

👩‍❤️‍👩 Connection boosts dopamine and, therefore focus. Phone or meet a friend. Pay attention to how you feel afterwards. Are you ready to be productive? If so, ignore the inner critic telling you you’re shirking. How can it be a waste of time if it helps you work?

🎨Do something you love when you’re anxious or stressed. For some it’s cross-stitch, drawing or crosswords. For me nothing is more relaxing than cooking. It is impossible to stay in fight-or-flight mode when chopping an onion or stirring a roux.

🐱Cuddle the cat. Nothing grounds me more than stroking my cats while they purr. I remind myself to appreciate every moment because they won’t be here forever. It’s like meditation. Pet ownership is linked to slower decline in cognition over time so I can feel smug that I’m investing in my brain too.

🛏️Are you tired? Try to distinguish between feeling tired and feeling fatigued. Endorphins or dopamine might be more beneficial than a nap so try the suggestions above first. Pay attention to how they affect your cognitive function.

What are your mood-boosters?

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