You know about the circadian rhythms of energy that explain your dip of creativity or motivation around late afternoon, but as an article in Fast Company explains, it might be more about going with those changes than fighting or preparing against them.
First, when you hit your daily low, here’s what happens in your brain:
“Your neurons can fire for a while with the energy they have in them, but not for long: After a dozen seconds, each needs more energy,” research psychologist Peter Killeen tells Fast Company. After those first dozen seconds, ever-hungry neurons order up stored-up energy. If they don’t get the glucose or lactate they need–two of their favorite fuels–they’ll fire more slowly. If your brain doesn’t have enough energy available, you’ll have a worse shot at keeping track of those breaths. You’ll experience a deficit in your attention.
The commonly prescribed fixes are what you’d guess — more rest, better food, meditating, etc. But what if this is your body telling you to switch up the rhythm of your thinking? In other words, switch from linear, go-go thinking to deep, abstract thinking to reenergize those neurons.
Say you’re toiling away at a logical task and start to get worn down. Instead of toughing it out, step away and start thinking in nontraditional ways: What if the problem were a chipmunk? What if it were a cloud? Let your mind wander and analogize, Killeen says–so long as you’re not walking down the sidewalk and about to step in front of a car.
“It’s a way of being creative,” he says. “It’s a way of giving the linear programming, engineering, hard-core good stuff of the brain a break.”