One of my goals for this year is to read more, sadly it’s not going as well as I had hoped. Still, I did manage to finish a book recently, hopefully motivation for more soon. Especially as the subtitle of the book reads:
How the science of mental preparation can help you succeed.
Sadly the science is rather limited and largely focused on sports, at least that’s what I mainly took away from the book. There’s quite a bit about the success (or lack thereof) of trash talk and music playlists during or before sports competitions and activities, neither of them I found very beneficial for me personally. Others might find it more beneficial and interesting (I personally don’t like music while I’m exercising very much, in particular walking/jogging, I prefer the sounds of nature).
More interesting was the part about confidence, how to instill confidence and how the often derided (incl by me) motivational posters might actually help after all. Still, I don’t plan to hang any of them up, certainly not at home and most likely not at my desk in the office either.
An unexpected chapter was the last one, covering the use (or abuse, depending of your point of view) of various chemical aids, a.k.a. pills. After giving them a try Daniel McGinn came to the conclusion they weren’t for him (a conclusion I’ve come to without trying them), although he’s still keeping the option in his back pocket (not something for me).
In summary for me: some ideas I might be able to build on, but overall not enough practical ideas for me personally. A too large focus on sports to be useful for me personally. Your mileage may vary.
It’s not really a New Year’s resolution, but it sounded a bit better in the title. One of the things I thought a lot about during the first months of my recovery from heart valve surgery has been my sleep. I think it’s something I have to admit I’ve neglected over the last years if not decades. In the back of my mind I decided it’s something I wanted to do something about, although I didn’t form any firm plans what it was.
Browsing in a bookstore during a trip to Reading just before Christmas I came across a little book I decided to pick up and see if it can help me forming a plan how to improve my sleep:
‘Elite sports sleep coach’ sounds a bit strange and bombastic, but then the author has indeed good credentials, having worked with the major football teams, the Sky cycling team and more. So I thought I’ll give it a go. I haven’t finished the book just yet, but what I’ve read so far largely makes sense to me.
Since just before Christmas I’m now getting up at a regular time (6:00 for me, very early, but I need the early start for various reasons) regardless of the day. Yes, even over Christmas and New Year I got up at that time. So far that’s working quite well. I’m trying to think/plan my night sleep in 90 minute cycles instead of thinking the old outdated 8 hours (which I never managed anyway) and also aim to have daytime naps in either 25 minute power naps or 90 minute full cycle naps. That part isn’t fully working yet, my body still needs to properly adapt to it. I’m trying to slow down and significantly reduce screen exposure the last hour before going to bed. I’m having mixed success with this, I’m now usually shutting down my laptop an hour before bed, but I’m still looking too much at my tablet/phone at the last minute, so far I haven’t fully build up the resilience not needing to look. Combined with general recovery/fitness plans I’m going for a 15-20 minute bedtime walk regardless of the weather, that’s working really well. I’m also doing other closure/preparation tasks like washing up, preparing my clothes for the next day and the like in that hour, that’s working fairly well.
There are many more areas needing work and I need to make sure I transfer what I’ve started into fully consistent habits, but then this is a journey, not something you just switch on. I’m hoping improving my sleep will help me in both the ongoing recovery as well as maintaining my health later on. After all sleep is when our bodies rest and repair themselves.