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The Big Idea - Just One Thing (to make today better)



A high-school student trying to improve their health.

Let’s be honest, you’re not a machine. You can’t relentlessly throw yourself at life’s challenges with scant regard for your own health and condition. You’re not indestructible. You’re not impervious. I used to think I was. I worked 13 hours a day, indolently perched in front of my computer teaching and writing books like these. Then, rather suddenly, I was overwhelmed by exhaustion and fatigue. I could barely face clicking a single key. My mind and body were telling me ‘you’ve had enough’. I had … reached … BURNOUT! When you ask around, oddly, almost everyone who pushes themselves to do something worth doing reaches burnout at some point, but nobody talks about it, so you think it’s just you. So, having already been through it, let’s examine some ways that you can NEVER NEED to go through it. It all starts with a simple mantra that I definitely didn’t create: LOVE YOURSELF, PROTECT YOURSELF.  

Just one thing

Literally a few days ago, a well-known author called Michael Mosley tragically died. He was a doctor back in the day who became more interested in TV and podcasting. He decided to elucidate single, simple things you can do to have an immense effect. I highly recommend buying and reading his book - Just One Thing - though it IS written for a slightly older audience than you. Nevertheless, the information is just as pertinent. Let’s rampage through some of the key insights as we move through the day.


SQUAT



Now, don’t hate me. You need to start your day by smashing out 50 or so squats. I’m not even remotely joking. Squats stimulate blood flow impressively well to the hippocampus (the part of your brain that makes learning and memory possible). This increase in blood flow actually helps your arteries to thicken and be flooded with beneficial hormones and chemicals that help the brain to GROW! GROW, I tell you, GROW! Start your day by doing 50 squats and you’re going to be absolutely on fire for the day to come, primed to learn, remember, and retain everything you see and study. I’m old and you’re young and I can do 50 without pause, so 50 is the minimum for you when you roll, grudgingly out of bed. Follow this with an ice-cold shower - OH NO - to boost your ability to handle stress (although you’ll need to do it at least 6 times - not in a row; over a few days - before it takes effect) and to boost your immune system. While you’re standing there literally freezing and cursing me, life, yourself, the Greek gods, and science, sing loudly for 5 minutes. I’m not joking…


Sing



Singing is an ancient behaviour that has anthropological origins in EVERY culture EVER to have walked the Earth. It is an ancient glue that joins societies together and builds intense bonds. You shall sing after your ice-cold shower and here’s why on a medical level: singing causes endocannabinoids to spike. What are endocannabinoids when they’re at home? Well, according to Mosley, they help to regulate our stress and auto-immune levels. Scientists at University College London found a single session of singing delivered lower stress levels, a more bubbly mood, improved lung function, lower blood pressure, reduced muscle tension, and less loneliness. So, what are you waiting for? SING! Sing this for 5 minutes each morning in the bathroom - SING-A-LONG! | 'The Phantom of The Opera' (Ramin Karimloo & Sierra Borgess) | Phantom of The Opera


Medidate, Walk, Drink Water



Meditation is … often perceived as something nuts where you sit on the floor repeating something zen like “I am the Earth and the Earth is me.” Get rid of that pre-conception. Meditation here means sitting comfortably for 10 minutes with your eyes closed where you just focus on the moment, the present, and nothing else. A jot of meditation each day can increase the amount of grey matter in your brain, leading to more effective learning and an improved memory. I’M IN! Harvard University found that it can also lead to the amygdala (in your brain) shrinking, which has a direct correlation with stress levels. I’M IN! After you’ve sung for 5 minutes and meditated for 10, you need to get outside to get a bit of sunlight and have a brisk walk. This echoes the ideas of Andrew Huberman at Stanford University, and it’s really rudimentary. Bright daylight releases the neurotransmitter serotonin in your bloodstream and regulates your circadian rhythm. Therefore, you’ll feel a lot more upbeat during the day and you’ll sleep better tonight! By the way, did you drink the 500ml glass of water when you woke up? I hope you did because even a 1-2% reduction in water levels in our bodies can lead to a reduced cognitive function. Now, teeth brushing; it’s a vital business, indeed.  


Kimchi, Stand on One Leg, Have a Coffee



Sure, you could have some yogurt or kefir (not really jam packed with bacteria enough for me). You could have some sauerkraut (a bit salty for me), but we all know where the money is - KIMCHI! This esteemed superhero of the food world leaves all competitors in the dust when it comes to probiotics. Research on the importance of cultivating a diverse fauna in your microbiome is growing and it is linked with the reduction of all kinds of horrible diseases and ailments. Simply put, your gut needs billions of crime-fighting bacterial strains. You can get these through a wide range of vegetables, but nothing packs a punch like kimchi. After this red-peppery breakfast, you’ll need to brush your teeth or risk being that kid with peppers in their teeth. For this, you’ll stand on one leg throughout. The UK Medical Research Council did a study and found that you’re 3 times more likely to die if you can’t do a simple test (close your eyes and stand on one leg for more than 10 seconds). Why? Balance is a supreme indicator of your overall ability to coordinate your brain and motor function. If this is in tip-top shape, your overall health is likely tip-top, too. So, when you brush your teeth, keep your eyes open so you don’t stab your eye out with your toothbrush, raise one leg, and have at it. Swap legs after a minute.

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