Power Up and Write More!
by Rochelle Melander
Renew energy, revive strength.
– Lailah Gifty Akita
My friend is a long-distance bicyclist. She talks about bonking—athletes also call it “hitting the wall.” It happens when the athlete uses up their body’s energy reserves. Traditionally, scientists have understood that this happens when the muscles run out of glycogen. Today, scientists are debating the role the brain has in this phenomenon, wondering if the experience of mental fatigue leads the brain to shut down the muscles.
No matter what the cause, long distance athletes usually combat this experience in two ways: by properly fueling their bodies before the race and by giving themselves a mid-race power-up.
But athletes aren’t the only people who bonk. All of us hit the proverbial wall with our work and writing. Just like glucose fuels our bodies for exercise, it also fuels our brains, making it possible for us to focus. When we run out of energy, we become distracted and cannot focus. We lose the ability to pay attention.
We can regain that focus by “powering up.” Just like an athlete fuels their body with a quick carb load, we can fuel our brain with a snack, exercises, or activity. In the book SuperBetter, author Jane McGonigal defines power-ups as “any positive action you can take easily that creates a quick moment of pleasure, strength, courage, or connection for you.”
How to Power Up
I recommend that people work on a focused task for 45 minutes and then take a 10-15 minute break to power-up. That should prevent you from bonking. Here are three ways to “power-up” before or after you hit the wall:
Have a healthy snack
Research suggests that water, green tea, and certain foods help us to focus better. The list of healthy foods is topped by items like blueberries, dark chocolate, avocados, and nuts.
Scientists have discovered that a walk in nature is the best way to restore your ability to pay attention. But you don’t have drive to the woods to give your brain a break: walk around the block, paying special attention to the nature around you, or head to a local park.
Take a creativity break
Take a power-up break and do something that engages your mind. Crochet, paint, draw, color, or sew.
Power up all day!
No one can focus all day. Everyone gets distracted. No matter how much we rest or how well we eat, we will bonk. One way to combat this experience is to layer your day with power-ups. Over the next week, try the three power-ups suggested above. If those don’t work, test out your own. Once you know what works, you’ll never hit the wall again!
Discover more power-ups!
To discover even more power-ups, buy my new book, Level Up: Quests to Master Mindset, Overcome Procrastination and Increase Productivity.