PRIMING YOURSELF

Priming is basically the way to prepare yourself for what comes next, considering your current state. Therefore, it can either pump you up or calm you down. Learn more on its benefits in this post.

The goal of priming is to prepare yourself for what is coming next. It can be your day, your night, a key meeting, a writing session, a fitness workout, etc.

It should therefore consider two points: your current and your desired states. If you are tired or exhausted and you need to perform, priming should boost you up. On the contrary, if you are excited and you need to rest and recover, priming should promote relaxation.

Primings acts both on your physiology/biochemistry and on your psychology.

Priming your body is basically what we call warm-up. It will prepare your muscles, tendons, cardiovascular and nervous systems to perform.

Priming in psychology has also been studied for years. It can have major effects on our behavior and habits, often without us even knowing. Priming occurs because we store information in our long-term memories in groups, or “schemas.” For example, when we see a word or an image, the rest of the group to which it belongs is also activated, and the related information is easier to access.

There are different types of priming in psychology. Check this ARTICLE to know more on this subject.

Techniques

Several techniques can be used, ideally as a combination. Here are 5 key ones.

1. Music

Music is most probably the easiest way to change your state. Identify songs that impact your mood or even create playlists that can be used whenever needed (e.g. handpans for yoga or concentration, etc.).

2. Breathing

Inhalation is actually related to the activation branch of autonomous nervous system (called sympathetic) whereas exhalation is more related to the relaxation one (parasympathetic). So if you want to boost yourself, you will use longer tempo for inhalation and short ones for exhalation. For example, start by exhaling deeply, inhale deeply on 4 secondes and exhale on 1 second. If you want to relax, you will do the opposite, e.g. inhale on 4 seconds by inflating your belly and exhale on 8 seconds by pulling in your belly. Repeat for a few minutes, til you feel a difference in your state.

Another tip to boost mental clarity is to increase your oxygen intake by doing some power breaths, ideally outside, or at least where the air is quite fresh (avoid the rest rooms ;-)).

There are plenty of other breathing techniques, such as cardiac coherence (inhale on 5 seconds, exhale on 5 seconds, repeat for 5 minutes, 3 times a day). Feel free to try a few of them and pick what fit your needs best.

3. Imagination

Imagination, often (erroneously I believe) called visualization, consists in creating mentally a dynamic or relaxing environment. Think of e.g. an athlete competing or an ocean view respectively. Include details such as colors, enlarged or narrowed view according to what works best for you (we are not equal on this).

4. Posture

In her famous TED talk, Amy CUDDY highlighted in 2012 that changing for posture for as short as 2 minutes, can affect our physiology and therefore our state. In very brief, power poses (think Spiderman or Wonder Woman) can increase our testosterone and decrease our cortisol. This will increase our confidence level instantly. On the opposite, low-power pose will induce lack of confidence, etc. Her study has been refuted by other psychologists but I personally use it and feel beneficial effects. You should consider giving it a try and make your opinion.

5. Movement

Wanna quickly boost yourself ? Try a few jumping jacks or any other move that suits your clothing.

Need to gain some serenity ? A few yoga moves will do the job.

You can increase the effects of the quickness of action by combining them. Others factors such as exposure to sunlight, specific smells (e.g. essential oils), grounding, singing or even trampolining can be beneficial as well.

Feel free to reach out to me should you have any question or comment. Always happy to exchange further with motivated people !

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