fbpx

Move your brain! – Movement and decision-making

Move your brain!
“Movement makes us smarter”
I wish more companies would dare to go outside the box when it comes to movement, meetings and decision-making. It can be as little as throwing in a few minutes of movement into a very long and sedentary meeting, to exercising together during working hours. It has been proven that being more active actually makes us smarter. If nothing else, there’s someone who doesn’t like to move around during a long meeting!

You know when the meeting leader forgets to take a break, your numb buttocks start tingling and you almost have to slap yourself to keep from losing focus on what’s being discussed? Then it would be a great time to get up in the middle and do some brain-stimulating movements. Instead of just going out to the break room and having a coffee at break time, which is far too late in many cases.

Because as much as we need movement, we need a break after maybe 45 minutes to be able to continue concentrating properly. If it’s a very interesting and entertaining speaker or meeting leader, we can certainly stay focused for a little longer, but in the end it doesn’t matter, our brain needs a break from receiving and sorting information.

I hope and believe that we are moving away from the time when companies flatly refused training during working hours (beyond the wellness hour). More people are beginning to understand the power of embracing movement as part of their company’s approach to retaining staff, sharpening their skills and delivering better results.

I don’t think in all the years I’ve been working with training and then further combined with learning and better decision making, anyone has ever said it doesn’t work. That it does not help. It is the other way around. However, I have been and still am met with a certain amount of skepticism at times that can it really be “ok” to mix movement into a meeting room where major important decisions for the company are to be made? YES, is my clear answer, every time. But if you or your company are not willing to try it, it is not possible to evaluate whether it worked or not. And I think, what could happen? What is the worst thing that can happen with testing?

We talk about movement and its impact on our brain, which is the most important part of our body. The part of the body that makes sure we breathe without having to think, makes sure the heart beats, controls hormones, etc., can we really come up with outcomes if it is ridiculous to mix in movement to give our brain more power and become more sharp?

In a few years, I believe that companies that do not dare to test movement in a more extended way in their business will be a less attractive company to work for. The faster society spins on, the better companies need to become at the cutting edge to actively create strategies for more sustainable individuals (leaders and employees) and teams that contribute to a resourceful and prosperous performing company.

The right movement for you
Just as not everyone likes to eat the same type of breakfast, wear the same shoes, buy the same brand of car, we humans do not like to do exactly the same type of activity to get exercise. Someone loves climbing, another Crossfit, another running in the forest, someone tennis, and another yoga and dance. Nothing is better than anything else, the most important thing is to find out what you like and what makes you, your body and your mind feel good. It is so easy to fall into the hands of a PT who sees your best from their perspective and has little or no regard for training you based on what you want and need. A good PT can both give you what you want and think you need, as well as give you what their expertise tells them you need.

So if you were to see yourself as your PT. Choose the exercise that really makes you want to keep moving. Also, dare to step out and look at yourself from the side, maybe consult a professional, and see what you also need from a holistic perspective to function well. Then you get a nice combination, which may change over time. I’ve switched between different types of training, which develops me in different ways, both physically and mentally. Be curious and flexible about your needs.

Stress, anxiety and exercise
“Exercise strengthens the brain’s anti-anxiety brake pedal, including the frontal lobe and hippocampus, which becomes better at calming the amygdala and thus reducing anxiety”. This is according to Anders Hansen, consultant physician and author of the popular book,
Hjärnstark
. It is also clear from research that if it is anxiety before stress you want to reduce, cardio exercise with a higher heart rate is suggested (e.g. running instead of walking). This is because when we get our heart rate up, our sympathetic nervous system (flight/fight/hunt) is more activated and contributes to the above effect by signaling to the amygdala that we have eliminated the threat/captured prey. Otherwise, the same parts of the brain are affected by stress and anxiety.

I really recommend you to read the book if you are even slightly interested in pimping your brain. Ten pages into the book my husband said “well, it’s hard not to find a motivator to exercise now!”.

Other research in the field of mental health and exercise is the combination of dance and mental health improvement. In Sweden, Anna Duberg has conducted a well-publicized scientific study, Dansprojektet – en vetenskaplig studie. Jill Taube, a psychologist and advocate of movement on prescription, is behind the successful DansSteget.

I myself am in the start-up phase of my own project, I am…enough! A course / a forum where young girls get the opportunity to strengthen their self-esteem and mental well-being through coaching, dance (non-performance) and other strengthening movements for the body and to increase their body awareness and more focus on internal responses than external.

The more understanding – the easier to act consciously
If you increase your awareness of what your body and brain need to function optimally, what is optimal for you, you will also be able to make more informed decisions. Because no matter what, we are not factory-made individuals who function in exactly the same way. We have some basic functions and a brain that looks mostly the same for everyone. But depending on the environment (upbringing, life, housing, etc.) and what we encounter on our path in life, certain processes in the brain will start to differ. Therefore, my solution is not necessarily your solution. You need to find out by looking inwards. The answers are within you, maybe you just need someone to help guide you.

If we move it up one level to the decision-making and company level, then we have the same there. As a company, dare to test yourselves to see what suits you when it comes to implementing movement. Dare to believe that introducing planned movement in your company actually makes a difference, and be brave enough to try it.

When I work, I try to come up with a proposal together with the client, which matches their business and need for change at the moment. By that I mean they may be in the middle of a change process, or right where they want to be with their business but want more energy and shorter decision-making processes. For me it is important not to give my truths about what I think is best, but to share my expertise in consultation with the company’s point of view.

Fast responses to the ‘right’ movements
Some quick responses you can get directly from introducing more movement in the office and/or in your life include. improved posture. More body awareness also makes it easier to know where your body is. How do you sit/stand in front of the computer? What is your posture in the meeting (both when you are sitting and listening and possibly standing and talking in the meeting). Stretching your body also allows you to breathe properly. You free up more space, and the body in a more open position (shoulders back and down, head and gaze slightly upwards) provides more conditions for an open and receptive mind. If we look more upwards, we can visualize more. A slumped position can make us more stuck in an undesirable emotional state. (Try sinking down and shouting out that you are happy. Then try stretching and saying that you are sad. Does it feel like your body language and what you say are connected? Probably not). Even a “small” detail like stretching can make a big difference in how you respond to yourself and the world around you.

Other things that can start improving right away and that you may also notice are, improved memory and concentration, more stress-resistant and more creative – you simply become more intelligent!

Fast and/or slow movement
My suggestion, experience and knowledge is that you should try to find a balance between both fast and slow movements. By fast, I mean any type of exercise (walking, running, climbing, golf, dancing, soccer, gym, etc).

Yoga, meditation, mindfulness, etc., are all types of slower or sedentary activities where you get the opportunity to pay more attention to your breath (which performs a worryingly important function for your entire body system, more on that in a post in a couple of weeks). An opportunity to practice resting your mind and letting go of your thoughts.

When I talk about slow movements, I am referring to really low-speed movements where you are completely present (think a bit like qi gong in terms of tempo). Movements that occur are in diagonals or rotations. Even the movement of a lying or standing eight can be advantageously done. Below, I explain in more detail what these movements can do, and why I and many others choose to practice them regularly.

Neuromotor support
Neuromotor support means three things:
Balance between right and left hemispheres
Quality of the nerve fibres, and more connections
– stimulation leads to more and stronger connections between different parts of the brain.
Balance between inner and outer muscle layers (core muscles vs “six-pack muscles”)

“Neuromotor function is an umbrella term for how movement patterns in the body’s muscles and joints, controlled and regulated by the brain, work and affect the function of the brain and body. Neuromotor function is the interaction and co-dependence between the brain and the rest of the body. By performing certain movement patterns, we can stimulate the brain to make new connections in the brain’s network of nerve fibers. The better the quality of our neural connections, the better we develop and function, and the better our brain functions.” Martin Fransson – “Your Source of Health is You – Developing your five pillars of health”

When it comes to the neuromotor foundation, you can also delve into tension patterns that may exist in the body. Tension patterns can be released by using, for example, slow movements. One who is at the forefront of the subject and very skilled is chiropractor Martin Fransson. He is a chiropractor with several further educations that he is relatively alone in Sweden. A very interesting way of working and also a communicator colleague of mine. He is the author of the book, “Your Health Source is You – Developing Your Five Pillars of Health“. Also an interesting book with many “hands-on” tips on movements (and other things) you can try, what they should lead to, etc.

How do I work?
With my background in training, dance and coaching, I am able to put it all together into an exciting, holistic service that works well out there.  It can also be subdivided depending on what you as a customer require. I will not start dancing African dance with you the first time we meet. Not others either, maybe 😉

I start where we can meet and then it can be a fun journey ahead.

Some of the contents we are testing are
Movement and working environment
Dance and decision-making
– Training and meeting climate
– Theme days (half/full days)
– Internal competitions

Training and meeting climate

Sometimes I train the whole company, sometimes I go in as a coach, sometimes I “just” train the team. The constellations can look very different, they all have one thing in common, there is a lot of joy, laughter and wonderful states in the group!

You are welcome to contact me if you are curious about introducing more movement into your company’s strategy in order to become more successful.

Tips!
– Dare to bring movement into the meeting room
– Check if there are opportunities for joint training at the workplace or nearby that you can book for the company only.
– If you don’t know what you like to exercise, do as the kids do, try it out and see what suits you.
– Train both fast and slow movements

/Rebecca

More reading