How To Develop A Skin Care Regime For Your Skin Type

Lady washing her face in the mirror

Lady washing her face in the mirror
For many of us, a skin care regime is pivotal to our morning and nightly routines. But for others, it’s a task that we don’t put too much time, effort or research into.

Many of us tend to buy one product and use that on an ongoing basis, failing to review what our skin needs at different stages in our life. And in the absence of professional care, an enhanced skin care regime will serve the skin well and your mood too, because healthy skin means a happy individual.

So, to help you achieve glowing skin, we have collaborated with the founder of O Cosmedics, Maria Enna-Cocciolone to develop an easy-to-follow guide on acing your skin care regime.

Your Simple Go-To Skin Care Guide:

Step 1 – Cleanse:

Lady cleansing her face

Cleansing is the first and foremost most important step when it comes to keeping your face healthy. This is because “cleansing ensures you have the perfect canvas for healthy skin and that active ingredients in serums and creams can penetrate the skin and get to work,” Maria explains.

But when it comes to cleansing, choosing the right product for your skin type is important. If you suffer from dry skin a balm or oil cleanser is recommended, whereas if you experience oily skin you may require light acids and or enzymes to deep clean the pores.

If your skin type is normal, a gel or light lotion cleanser will do the job. Once you have the right cleanser for your skin “simply apply the cleanser to your fingertips, apply to the face and neck and work in tiny circles to ensure you are cleansing effectively accumulating makeup, pollutants, dirt, and grime,” Maria details.

Remove the cleanser with a damp skin shammy or face wash. If you’ve worn makeup during the day, make sure you double cleanse and for a super-effective cleanse, use a micellar treatment gel to ensure you leave no residue behind.

If you have thoroughly cleaned it the night before, you can opt for a simply micellar cleanse as part of your morning routine. Maria recommends the O Cosmedics Micellar Treatment Gel for a quick cleanse and anti-pollutant support.

Step 2 – Correct:

Liquid being dropping into a hand

When it comes to correcting your skin, using serums allows you to target specific skin concerns. A serum is a liquid or gel that contains high concentrations of skin actives, which can penetrate deeper than other topical products such as moisturisers.

Serums allow you to target specific concerns due to their high concentration and potency. While most basic serums contain a combination of antioxidants that will brighten the skin, Maria advises as part of an effective skin regime to use vitamin C in the morning and retinol (vitamin A) in the evening.

Step 3 – Hydrate & Protect:

Lady adding cream to her face

Keeping your skin looking radiant and healthy at all times can be a difficult task, but it can all come down to ensuring it is hydrated and protected from chemical products and harsh sunlight. To ensure your skin is being looked after, ensure you hydrate it every morning and evening.

“Choose [a product] that not only hydrates and nourishes your skin but also treats specific skin concerns,” Maria advises. “A great starting point is O Cosmedics Immortal Cream,” which contains super-antioxidants and potent concentrations of V8 Peptide Complex.

This product is also a mega-dose of vitamin C and is commonly used to awaken and hydrate the skin, assist relaxation of muscles and help to reverse and diminish the signs of aging whilst providing a feeling of instant lift. Perfect for assisting line and wrinkle relaxation age prevention super hydration youth and radiance.

Skin Care Regime By Skin Type:

Dry, Dehydrated And Flaky:

Lady with dry skin

When it comes to dry and dehydrated skin, they are too different conditions. Dry skin means you are lacking oil, whereas dehydrated skin lacks water.

To treat dry skin, opt for an oil-based cleanser and treatment, as well as essential fatty acids (topically and orally). Dry skin can also benefit from a hydrating booster; whether it is a hydrating face oil, a twice-weekly replenishing mask, or a serum with hyaluronic acid.

It is also important to keep up your water intake and hydrate your skin from the inside out. When it comes to treating your dehydrated skin, different molecular weights (molecule sizes) of Hyaluronic Acid is recommended for use.

Oily Skin:

Oily skin is caused by an overproduction of excess sebum (oil) and requires active ingredients to rebalance the productivity. When it comes to cleansing your skin, choose products that contain retinol (vitamin A) and Niacinamide (vitamin B3).

Sore And Red:

Young lady with red skin

If you are experiencing sore and red skin, it is commonly an inflammatory response and should be treated with TLC. To help soothe your skin, there are two recommended treatment phases:

  1. Calming and soothing
  2. Healing and strengthening

“It is not recommended to use actives, or exfoliating products should be used whilst the skin is crying for help,” Maria explains.

How Often Should I Be Doing An At-Home Facial?

Man having an at home face mask

Facials can now be done in the comfort of your own home (and for a fraction of the price). To keep your skin looking flawless, at-home facials are recommended once or twice a week.

Too often, and you risk overdoing it, which can leave your skin irritated. “Simply dedicating 30 to 60 minutes a week to a home-facial can make all the difference and ensure the skin is clear, even and radiant,” Maria says.

But according to Maria, “the most important thing to remember is to stay true to a cosmedical skin care and giving yourself some self-love is imperative to healthy skin.” 

Read our blog on Iso Skin: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented?

DON’T FORGET YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST WITH MARIA HERE.

Iso Skin: What Is It And How Can It Be Prevented?

Lady suffering from iso skin

Lady suffering from iso skin

This year has been the year many of us are ready to say goodbye to. It has challenged us in new ways we never thought were possible.

For the first time in our lifetime, we found ourselves locked up in our homes with nowhere to go. Shops closed, outdoor time and travel restrictions in place and interactions with the human race was a distant memory.

We were forced to isolate due to the world health pandemic of coronavirus, otherwise known as COVID-19. Since March 2020, our lives changed forever.

Isolation itself changed many different aspects of our lives. While it has changed the way we work and communicate, it also had a dramatic impact on our mental and physical health.

But other than the fear of catching COVID-19, many of us experienced another health concern. One that left us thinking “what am I doing wrong?”

Take a moment to think about this…have discovered you’ve suffered from skin breakouts but you don’t know why? Well, it’s safe to say, you are NOT alone.

That is why we have gone straight to the experts and uncovered the reasons why you’re suffering from the new diagnosis of ‘iso skin’ and how you can stop it in its tracks. But firstly, what is iso skin?

“Iso skin is a result of COVID-19 and the pressure of living through a pandemic, being forced to stay home, living a more sedentary life and not being able to seek professional skin treatments due to clinic closures,” founder of O Cosmedics, Maria Enna-Cocciolone explained. “It can be an existing condition that flares up or a new one that is triggered by the stress that comes with living in uncertain times.”

3 Reasons Why Your Skin Is Breaking Out:

1. Stress:

Lady looking stressed

It shouldn’t come as a surprise that stress is the number one cause to our skin breakouts. Especially after the year we’ve had, where we have continuously been living in a world of uncertainty.

This is because when we stress, it releases hormones that increase testosterone that leads to oily skin. And when we have oily skin, our pores become blocked, causing us to experience breakouts.

“In one sentence, stress and skin are not friends,” Maria explained. “Stress triggers inflammatory markers, which can result in acne, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, dryness, oil imbalance, rashes, and hives.”

Stress can also affect our ability to digest and release toxins from within our bodies. “Stress can slow down digestion, which affects gut bacteria causing a cascade of bacteria in the body and can even be responsible for hormone stimulation that causes oil imbalance and triggers acne,” Maria added.

2. Diet:

Woman holding a glass of red wine

Spending more time at home has its ups and downs. But one thing that many of us can relate to is our growing relationship with the pantry and fridge – especially when we find ourselves procrastinating over a work task.

And as we continue to spend more time at home, many of us find ourselves snacking more and eating foods that are higher in sugar and carbs. This then impacts our hormone levels and causes breakouts around our mouth region.

But is it not just our diet that has changed, so too has our alcohol consumption. A new study from The Australian National University discovered that 20.2% of people reported that their alcohol consumption increased this year.

The study also found that one-in-four women who drank (22.8 per cent) reported an increase in drinking during May 2020 and one-in-five men (17.9 per cent) reported an increase in the same period. So next time you go to grab that block of chocolate or bottle of wine, maybe think twice about the consequences that may follow – your skin will thank you for it.

3. Masks:

Lady walking while wearing a mask

Many of us are now required to wear a face mask when leaving the house, whether it is at the shopping centres, at the doctors or on public transport. But what you didn’t know is that your mask could also be contributing to your irritated skin.

Introducing mascne. Yes, it is a ‘thing’.

“Mascne [acne mechanicha] is a new word and skin condition, which originates from acne caused by wearing a mask,” Maria explained. “Worn correctly and over extended periods the skin sweats, oil and redundant cells build-up, skin dries out and the imbalances clog pores causing mascne.”

We can minimise breakouts by thoroughly cleansing our face morning and night. “[And] if you choose to wear makeup [under your mask] make sure you choose a product that is clean and does not infuse toxic ingredients into the skin,” Maria said. “O Cosmedics 1Skin (pronounced one skin) Treatment Fusion Foundation is 97% Natural, is skin-friendly, preventing breakout and congestion.”

5 Quick Ways To Beat Iso Skin:

When it comes to beating breakouts, there are several approaches you can take. By making some lifestyle changes and switching up your skin care regime, you can help your skin flourish.

Here are five quick and easy ways you can begin to improve the healthiness of your skin:

1. Drink More Water:

Man drinking a bottle of water

We know; you have probably heard this many times, but it is true what the experts say… By drinking at least eight glasses of water a day it helps keep your body refreshed and provides it with the ability to flush any toxins, ultimately clearing your pores.

2. Eat A Healthy, Balanced Diet:

A salad in a blue bowl

Diet is a big contributor when it comes to achieving glowing skin. For healthy-looking skin, it’s recommended you consume meals that are high in fibre, whole grains and fresh fruit and vegetables, providing your body with nutrients to feed the skin.

It is important to also keep an eye out on foods that are high in salt. While you may be drinking enough water every day, if you are consuming foods that are high in salt, you are interfering with the positive results because these foods are stopping the water from reaching your skin and ultimately removing all the toxins.

3. Take Time Out And Meditate:

Person at the beach meditating

Yes, meditate. We all know breakouts can be caused by stress, so by taking the time out to meditate helps you manage your emotions and ultimately de-stress.

It also assists in adjusting your sleeping matters and reduces cortisol levels. So, use this time to remove yourself from the noise on social media, and the negativity in the world and meditate to relaxing music – do this daily and you will begin to notice a shift mentally and physically.

4. Move Your Body:

Man tying his shoes to go exercise

We know you probably don’t want to believe it, but exercise can improve the appearance of your skin as it helps balance out your hormones. When you exercise, you are delivering oxygen-rich blood to the skin to allow it to restore.

According to Maria, “lack of movement, fresh air and vitamin D can make an individual lazy, compromise circulation, slow down toxin removal and blood oxygenation.” So, make sure you dedicate at least 20 minutes a day to move your body and preferably outside, so you are exposed to natural vitamin D.

5. Feed Your Skin With The Right Products:

Lady fixing her iso skin with a face mask

While diet, movement and meditation contribute to healthy-looking skin, so does establishing a good skin care routine. When it comes to your skin, it is important to use products that keep it balanced, hydrated and nourished.

From picking out the right cleanser for your skin type and the perfect serums and moisturisers; each step of your regime is important to achieving gorgeous looking skin. Read our blog on How To Develop An In-Depth Skin Care Regime here.

But feeding your skin with the right products doesn’t stop at your cleansing products, it also includes the makeup you. According to Maria, choosing clean beauty needs to become your go-to beauty product.

“Look for Natural, Mineral or Organic,” she explained. “If the product isn’t one of those three then chances are everything else is a ‘chemical shit storm’ under the guise of a pretty camouflage,” the skin expert added.

DON’T FORGET YOU CAN ALSO LISTEN TO OUR PODCAST WITH MARIA HERE.

Have People Lost The Ability To Have Fun?

Man jumping into the water

Man jumping into the water from the jetty

By Sam Makhoul

We are all in the business of selling ourselves. What sells is not just the product or service, it is the person standing behind it.

People connect with you first. And if they like you they will use every justification to do business with you.

Does Having Fun Make You Successful?

The more fun you have in your life, the more attractive and successful you will become. You smile more, have more energy and you magically attract good things and good people into your life.

People are naturally attracted to the smiling, enthusiastic person in the room. Be that person and you will attract more customers. It’s that simple. Trust me, I know.

I have built the entire MSA National business on this fun mindset. Without fun, a KPI is met, a box is ticked and another dull day goes by without empathy and connection with the customer. 

With fun, everyone is excited to be at work (we even have to force people to go home at the end of the day), emails are written with smiley faces, phone calls are filled with laughter, and settlements are completed with purpose. Yes, fun is important, at home and in business.

So, Why Isn’t Everyone Having Fun?

Most people have lost the ability to have fun. Or worse still, have the wrong idea on what fun is.

  • Fun is NOT getting drunk on a Friday night.
  • Fun is NOT watching TV or surfing the internet.
  • Fun is NOT attracting likes on Facebook.
  • Fun is NOT in the next new car or pair of shoes you buy.
  • Fun is NOT found in walking around a shopping centre.

What Kills Fun?

Four people dancing together

As children, having fun comes naturally and easily. Making friends and being funny was a daily joy.

But then as school, parents and even religious institutions start to influence our belief systems, we start to do things to please others and spend precious energy worrying about what they think. We stop smiling as much and taking ourselves too seriously.

We are told to sit still for long periods, follow orders, and conform. We are asked “what do you want to be when you grow up?”, instead of “how would you like to help others and contribute to society”.

Then as we become adults we start watching the news and learning fear. We learn to complain.

We start to blame. We focus on fault. We become cynical, even miserable or at best, mediocre.

Most of all, we stop scheduling time to have fun as we focus more and more on the material world. Don’t get me wrong, there is nothing wrong with owning things, as long as those things don’t start to own you.

Do You Need To Be Happy To Have Fun?

Yes and no. Being happy makes having fun easier but having fun also makes you happy.

Being unhappy or in a bad mood is a signal from your body and mind that you need to change something in your life. You need to change your thinking, change your diet or lifestyle or even change the people you hang out with.

These changes require effort and time. Having fun should not wait for those changes to happen.

So, the shortcut is to force yourself to do fun things so you can be happy in that moment. Most of us don’t feel like having fun when we are in a bad mood, but that is when we need it the most. You need to force yourself to get up and get out.

So, How Do You Have Fun?

Girl swinging on a swing

1. Turn your frown upside down and for God’s sake change your posture:

Your body language has a huge impact on your mindset (and vice versa). I make a point of laughing out loud every day. There is a lot of research on this subject but my favourite layman’s talk is by Amy Cuddy on TED, (with over 14 million views) titled “your body language may shape who you are”.

2. Watch and listen to comedy movies and stand-up:

Scientists have shown that doing this makes you a funnier person, which puts you in the mood to have fun. It also makes you smarter, which is an added bonus. I personally watch a short comedy skit every night as part of my nightly routine. My favourites are Arj Barker, Kitty Flanagan, Jim Jefferies and Russell Peters.

3. Surprise your family and friends:

Be a prankster and do the unexpected. Go home at the end of the day with a bunch of balloons for the kids. Print your favourite funny family photos and stick them in the most unusual places.

My daughter Amelia taught me this. She transposed her mum’s face on an image of the Mona Lisa and stuck it on the inside of the pantry cupboard, wardrobe, etc. You should have heard the cackles every time a door opened! This went on for days.

4. Surprise your customers and/or staff:

I have coached a few mortgage brokers on how to have fun with customers on the phone and in person. And it works! Instant rapport.

Turn up to an appointment with a box of chocolates or a funny book or movie tickets. Be thoughtful. Your choice depends on what info they give you over the phone before the appointment. 

Make sure you make the customers feel like its obligation-free. It’s all in the delivery. Please email me and I will forward you a list of what else you can do and how this works best.

At MSA we constantly surprise our team with fun and unexpected things. One day we filled the breakout room with delicious treats in a Willy Wonka theme and we had Adriano Zumbo deliver them.

The vibe in the office was electric with smiles and selfies. We are all big kids in a candy store waiting to come out!

5. Use fun emoji’s and be funny with your emails and texts:

This does not make you unprofessional as long as this fun approach is coupled with displays of competence. Fun communications just make you more human and interesting and people will be genuinely intrigued to meet you in person.

With one client I coached, we simply made her voicemail message more fun and customer referrals increased significantly. She became known as the fun mortgage broker who also knew her stuff!

With another client, we changed his email auto-response and the rapport with customers increased dramatically! He started getting more appointments.

Here Are Some Ways I Have Fun:

  1. Organise a cards night with whisky, cigars or whatever turns you on.
  2. Go on a country drive on weekends with a cavalcade of cars.
  3. Pretend you are a tourist and/or put on an accent for the day. My daughter loves this.
  4. Go to the farmers market or better still, go fruit picking at a farm.
  5. Invite your neighbours over; especially the weird ones.
  6. Host a movie night with popcorn and ice cream.
  7. Share your bucket list with others and talk about what each means to you.
  8. Go through your old photos and relive stories. This does not mean you live in the past. Rather, it inspires future adventures.
  9. Go on a bike ride. The wind in your hair makes you smile.
  10. Go bowling or better still, play lawn bowls.
  11. Take turns cooking. Boys cooking for the girls always ends in laughter.
  12. Go to the park and on the swing set with your kids.
  13. Play board games and charades.
  14. Tell or read your kids stories at bedtime.
  15. Play backyard cricket or touch footy.
  16. Attend a seminar with colleagues – yes learning should be fun.
  17. Organise a surprise party for a friend or family member.
  18. Go dancing! My wife’s favourite.

Do you notice how all of the above do not require much if any, money? Did you also notice that all of the above is best enjoyed with friends?

Life is boring without friendships.  Some measure their wealth by their bank account.

I measure it by the quality of my friendships, which includes my own family and my work colleagues. So, how many close friends do you have?

Do you hang out with people that make you laugh? These are the most important questions you should first ask yourself.

Making friends with the right people is your first step to having fun. How do you have fun? 

Mindfulness Meditation: Essential Ritual #3

Woman meditating

Man in a suit performing mindfulness meditation

By Sam Makhoul

This article contains a very special video presentation of the meditation session presented by Tom Sullivan from our Upgrade Your Life event. Never-seen-before footage and compelling viewing.

But first, this article is third in a series about the four rituals, five habits and six life-hacks. If you have not read the first two essential rituals here are the links:

Essential Ritual #1: Journaling

Essential Ritual #2: Movement

Diagram of the four-five-six methodology

All the research shows that these rituals, habits and hacks work. Living by these protocols helps get back on track every single day.

The sceptic inside of you may tell you that these rituals, habits and life-hacks will not make a difference in your life. The cynic inside will also tell you that you can’t change.

We all have those voices. But we are asking you to dismiss them because how you live your life is totally within your control.

Forget about the outcome. We are asking you to own your greatness. Show courage. Be motivated by love for yourself and honour the potential you were born with.

Although this series of articles are written in what we consider to be the order of importance, the sequence in which they should be performed every morning and every night is as follows:

  1. Movement
  2. Meditation
  3. Journaling

The fourth ritual of learning can be performed anytime throughout the day.

Why Meditate?

We are now all competing with a new breed of high achievers across all industries. They eat like athletes, train religiously and meditate like monks.

In today’s world, success no longer belongs to the smartest or the most knowledgeable. It belongs to the most effective.

And that’s what meditation delivers. Effectiveness. It’s the new secret weapon.

Mindfulness meditation is a practice that should be infused in your day much like eating and sleeping. It is that important.

So, don’t quit because you get impatient or find it irritating to sit there. You might have a bad meal or a bad night’s sleep, but you still eat and sleep, right?

Meditation is not about perfect practice. It is about doing it no matter what, whether you are stressed, on business travel, on holidays or whatever.

Mindfulness Meditation is Like Fitness:

You see, meditation is like fitness. You really do not know how physically unfit you are until you get really fit and look back on your old self.

Once you practice mindfulness meditation it will become your daily detox for your mind. One of the life-hacks we will talk about in this series of articles is a unique way of fasting from food, otherwise known as going hungry by our ancestors.

Well, you can think of meditation as fasting from thought. And when you fast from thought daily, you will be amazed at how fit your brain will become.

You will be amazed at how much clarity and creativity you will achieve. You will be amazed at how mentally sharp you will be in your job and how attractive you will become in social gatherings.

Mindfulness meditation also de-clutters the brain and gives you clarity in a world full of noise. We could ask you to cancel your social media accounts, disable notifications and stop listening to the news but you probably would not do that. So, you need meditation to quieten the mind from all these daily distractions.

What Type of Meditation?

There are two types of Meditation that we encourage at A Higher Branch:

  1. Visualisation meditation in the morning
  2. Relaxation meditation in the evening.

We find this to be a practical and realistic approach to meditation. More on that below but first we would like to share with you the power of group meditation.

At Upgrade Your Life, Tom Sullivan, meditation coach, rocked the room with stillness when he performed group meditation for over 200 people at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Sydney. It was incredible – see it for yourself.

Morning – Power Of Eight Visualisation Meditation:

This type of meditation should be done in the morning after exercise (for the reasons stated in the last article on Ritual #2 Movement). Visualisation meditation in the morning is all about preparing and priming you to take daily, decisive, and deliberate action in each of the eight areas of life depicted below.

It is about visualising your best day in each of the eight areas. Humans are all born with the innate ability to visualise.

This faculty known as creative imagination was not given to us by some evolutionary accident. It is there to help us materialise what we visualise.

It triggers the mind’s reticular activation system (RAS), which has been described as a manifestation superpower. Your mind starts seeking out the actions, solutions, and opportunities for you to achieve your goals for the day.

For example, if one of your visualisations is to start a new exercise regime, you may see or hear an advert or billboard of that gym you drive or walk by every day. If another visualisation is of you and your partner on a perfect date, you might notice a lifestyle article of a new restaurant that just opened featuring your partners favourite food. In both cases, your RAS serves as a prompt.

You still have to take the action. Cycling through, your morning visualisation can look like this:

Health:

Visualise yourself with strong posture, smiling, and full of energy.

  • What will you nourish your body with today?
  • How will you feel sitting and soaking up the sun?
  • How powerful will your body feel while exercising?
  • How relaxed will you be for sleep tonight?
  • Is your body soft and supple?
  • Is your skin glowing?
  • Is your hair shiny?
  • Are your eyes bright?
  • Is your heart beating calmly?

Love:

Visualise smiling at your partner with love. Touching their hand. Kissing them goodbye and hello again. Cooking with them. Eating with them. Reading together. Hugging and anything else you want to visualise that brings you closer.

If you are single, then imagine meeting someone with all the qualities you desire in another person. How will they look? Act? Are they affectionate? Are they witty? Imagine yourself loved and loving. Wanted. Desired.

Now continue visualising for each of the eight areas of life.

Evening – Review And Relaxation Meditation:

Your evening meditation should be performed in the same order as your morning rituals: movement, meditation, and journaling. It is important you perform these before your dinner.

All three will neutralise the impact of daily stress that builds up. All three will activate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as the rest and digest system.

This will ensure you enjoy your food and engage with your family in a loving, calm manner. Meditation in the evening is all about relaxation.

It is about healing any rejections and failures that may have happened to you during the day. It is about the breath. It is about calm. It is about forgiveness.

It is about acceptance. It is about acknowledging your humanity and reminding yourself that you will always be a work in progress.

Our mindfulness meditation coach and faculty member, Tom kindly prepared this guided audio practice for your personal use.  Listen to his Nightly Guided Meditation now.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

Movement: Essential Ritual #2

Man running in Sydney Harbour

Image of a lady performing some body movement

By Sam Makhoul

This is part of a series of articles relating to the four rituals, five habits and six hacks that systemise your life. Remember don’t rely on motivation alone.

Rely on repetition and automation. Not just in your personal life but also in business. A well-drilled team will always outperform a motivated one.

In our last article, we shared with you the most important daily ritual of all – journaling.  Now we will share with you the second most important ritual you need to do before journaling, without compromise every morning and early evening – movement.

A lot of us make excuses to abandon a ritual. Don’t blame yourself too much. We are hard-wired to crave food and comfort.

Recognise this and let it be your cue to fight the urge for comfort and go for growth instead. Let it be your trigger for tenacity.

All the research shows that delayed gratification is the key to success in all areas of life. You study hard, you graduate.

You work hard, you out-perform the competition and make more money. You save and invest your money, so you can afford to have more freedom later in life.

You put in the effort in your relationships, you have more intimacy and build bonds for life. You exercise, you have better health and energy as you get older.

You stretch, you get more flexible and supple. You eat live unprocessed food, you build healthier cells in your entire body including your eyes and skin.

You learn new things and meet new people, you get a sharper mind as you grow older and bolder.  Rarely does anything good in life come easily. You need to put in the conscious effort but that makes it all the sweeter.

Movement In The AM And PM:

Person performing movement activities

 

Before you perform the first mentioned ritual (journaling), it is absolutely critical to start your day with movement. Anything from a four-minute Tabata routine to a 30-60 minute jog, cycle, swim or whatever gets you puffing and sweating.

Exercise is best in the morning when your cortisol levels are highest; but not too early in the morning. There are a lot of experts who preach early morning exercise (before sunrise) but the science shows that this is not the most optimal time.

The optimal time starts at sunrise and peaks around 7-8 am. Exercise later in the day should be milder as the cortisol curve tapers off for rest and sleep.

What Type Of Moving?

Moving, just like going hungry, is natural. You need to listen to your body every morning and adapt the length and intensity to suit.

But there is never any excuse not to do anything. Even if you are unwell, still muster the effort to do a brisk walk for 15-30 mins – you will always be surprised by how much it lifts your mood and energy.

And the best form of exercise is one that you enjoy. Think competitive sport, dancing and training with friends.

The second best and most natural source of movement is walking, jogging or running. Generally, the shorter the time you have to exercise the higher the intensity should be.

When you don’t have much time, do at the very minimum a 10 minute Tabata routine. But never ever skip moving in the morning.

Why Is Exercise An Important Morning Ritual?

Person running up stairs

We live in a world where people rarely sleep straight through the night. Our mind is racing as soon as we wake.

We can be confrontational and edgy in the morning and our energy crashes and burns around mid-morning and/or mid-afternoon. Exercise neutralises these abnormal afflictions.

Most people think that exercise is for the body. Its biggest impact however is on the mind.

Science tells us that when you are in motion, your mind is on fire! All parts of the brain are active.

This kick-starts your cognitive engine in the morning and keeps you mentally sharp throughout the day; which means you will perform tasks faster and you will get more done in less time. And that means you can spend more time with your partner, family and friends.

Exercise also impacts your emotions in a profound way because it changes your body chemistry. It replaces adrenalin and cortisol (fight or flight) with dopamine and serotonin (inspiration and calm).

These are the neurotransmitters you should be running on all day and it all starts with morning exercise. Exercise also kickstarts your metabolism and stimulates your lymphatic system (for immunity).

Especially when you exercise in the sunshine without wearing sunglasses. Exercising in morning sunshine also promotes a deeper and longer sleep that same night.

In fact, exercise in conjunction with sunshine and sleep has been proven to be more potent than Prozac as an antidepressant. Sleep is the ultimate superpower for your overall health.

Why Is It Important To Exercise Before The Three Other Daily Rituals?

If you try to journal on waking without first moving you will have trouble calming the mind. Your mind is no match for adrenalin and cortisol.

You will be edgy. You cannot sit still let alone think straight.

We are wired to hunt and gather on waking, so we need to respect this natural rhythm and get moving. We need to also respect this cycle by eating low carb meals in the morning (if anything at all), moderate amounts of carbs during the day.

Think substantial salads and higher amounts of carbs as the last meal of the day. Think, sweet potatoes, pumpkin, broccoli; not pasta, pizza and bread.

Carb cycling in this way promotes healthy cortisol levels. After you move in the morning, you will find your body gets calmer and your mind clearer and these two qualities are the perfect prerequisites for journaling and the other morning rituals.

But can some exercise be doing you more harm than good? Find out by clicking here.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

Journaling: Essential Daily Rituals #1

Lady journaling

By Sam Makhoul

The Foundation for Identity Change

In the last article I, wrote about defining your identity clearly by asking yourself, “who do I want to become in each of the eight areas of life?”

I write to start you on the journey for identity change using the four rituals, five habits and six life-hacks, which we use in our Higher Branch workshops. Today I start with the first most important ritual – journaling.

I will share with you the simple techniques for journaling that I use in my one-on-one coaching. There are so many journals out there for sale that make it too complicated and frankly too airy-fairy. 

All you need is a simple blank journal and a system for journaling that I will teach you. So, let’s start.

Why Change is Hard:

Most people don’t realise that they spend up to 85% of their day, living in their subconscious in cruise-control, thinking, doing and feeling the same way they did yesterday and the day before that; effectively living in the past. This is fine if this 85% is filled with positive stuff that serves your growth.

After all, the subconscious is there as an automation tool for us to do things without thinking. This frees up the conscious mind to focus on high impact, high return, high reward activities like creativity, strategy, and meaningful connection with others.

But what if that 85% is filled with a lot of unwanted behaviour that just gets repeated without thinking? Stuff like procrastinating, eating too much, binge-watching TV, mindlessly scrolling through social media, shopping online for stuff you don’t need, or picking fights with your family. It is difficult to erase these behaviours, but you can replace them with better behaviours that serve the identity you want to create.

You cannot stack the habits and hacks without mastering these four rituals first. The reason will become clear.

Infusing these four4 rituals daily is difficult at first, but know this, rarely does anything good in life come easy. You will feel the need to skip them because you are just too busy.

You need to stay committed to them until you cross, what scientists call the line of automaticity. This simply means that when you repeat something enough it becomes second nature and easier.

Some scientists say it takes two lunar cycles to cross this line but in my experience, it all depends on the difficulty of the ritual and the frequency in which you repeat it. The former is subjective for all of us.

What is extremely difficult for some can be lightly challenging for others. What is difficult may take you many months.

What is easy may only take you a few weeks. Either way, I will outline a method that works for me and I trust it will work for you.

Journaling:

Image of a blank journal

Journaling is the most important ritual out of the four. It is also the most difficult to stick with because it can be confronting when done right.

Mainly because this ritual is all about self-accountability. Ignoring it or skipping it is a big mistake because it has been the single most important success factor in my life.

Most people don’t journal because they don’t know how, or they underestimate how beneficial it is. The other reason why people don’t journal is because they wake up late and hurry to get to work on time, so they skip this ritual and the three other rituals because they don’t have time.

Know this. Time is the great leveller. We all have the same 24 hours in the day so the difference between us can only be our discipline and the systems we follow (i.e. our rituals, habits and hacks).

You may have heard the phrase “win the morning, win your day”, which is so true, but the bigger truth is that winning your morning starts the night before. Getting organised the night before is the real secret to your morning success.

Getting a night of deep sleep is the second biggest secret to winning your morning. So, ask yourself, how do you spend your nights?

This is where most people (even some high performers) waste their time because they feel like they’ve earned the right to flop in front of Netflix, scroll social media and snack. When rather it should be the time to hit repeat on the four-morning rituals and get ready for the following day, by packing your workout gear, your work bag, your lunch, turning off all technology and socialising in person with your family or by phone with a friend.

Why Is Journaling So Important?

Journaling is important for many reasons:

  • It is a conscious conversation you have with yourself.
  • It helps you notice any negative self-talk.
  • It keeps you focused on your priorities.
  • It helps you take stock of your life, so you don’t drift aimlessly.
  • It helps you notice whether you are neglecting parts of your life.
  • It holds you accountable to the promises you make to yourself.
  • It helps you process and review any negative or hurt feelings.

All these reasons will become apparent when you start to journal properly.

How do You Journal Properly?

Pen sitting on paper ahead of journaling

At A Higher Branch, we developed a unique journaling technique that shows you how to become your own life architect. We do not like the idea of an accountability coach.

People need to hold themselves accountable and journaling is the ultimate accountability tool. The template below gives you a guide.

You need to devote two pages every day. Once you use this template a few times, you will remember it.

Morning Journaling – Action Page:

The left page of your journal is for your morning ritual. It is for the mind. The right page is for your heart.

In the morning you need to focus on your actions for the day. So, it is future-focused.

It is all about visualising as you write what you need to do for the day in each of the eight areas of life depicted in the diagram below.

If this is your first time journaling, I suggest you devote the first few pages of your journal to write your long term goals and dreams in each of the eight areas of life. That way, the front of your journal becomes your big picture reminder to reference from time to time.

Nothing is too trivial or too small to write. Once it is written, it can be reviewed throughout the day to see how you are tracking.

I always keep my journal in my bag and check-in throughout the day to see if I have forgotten to action anything. I do one final check before I leave work and do a brain dump at the end of the day.

If I have missed anything I write it on the next day’s action page to get it out of my head and onto paper so I can shut down when I get home. As a guide, see below a few examples of daily action items I have written in my journal in the last week.

You will notice that nothing is too trivial to write. You will also notice that there is an action item for each of the eight elements of my life. We often make the mistake of thinking that our wellbeing is fuelled solely by diet and exercise.

In truth, it is all eight elements that make us whole and complete us mentally, emotionally and spiritually. And so we cannot neglect them.

Health:

  • Do F45 today at 12 noon.
  • Stretch for 10 minutes afterwards.
  • Book a massage for Saturday.
  • Use the stand-up desk between 8:30 am – 11:30 am.
  • Buy blue-light blocking glasses.
  • Fast till 1 pm today. Have a no-protein day today.
  • Order more turmeric & ashwagandha.
  • Go to bed at 10 pm.
  • Rest day, do brisk walk after work.
  • Go out in the sunshine at lunch.

Love:

  • Book a surprise dinner date for Saturday night.
  • Light candles tonight and read together.
  • Go for a hike together.
  • Go home early today and cook her favourite pasta.

Family:

  • Play backgammon with my daughter.
  • Share chapter eight of David Goggins with my oldest son.
  • Book lunch at a Lebanese restaurant on Sunday for the whole family.
  • Check-in on my nephew who is studying for HSC.
  • Call mum.

Work:

  • Keep a separate diary for your work to do.

Friendship:

  • Organise tickets to the footy this Sunday with mates.
  • Call mates to organise run on Saturday around the bay.
  • Have breakfast after.
  • Help a mate with his wedding prep.

Learning:

  • Listen to latest episodes of Dr Rhonda Patrick and Jim Kwik.
  • Research whether autophagy accelerates with exercise.
  • Research whether coffee breaks a fast.
  • Re-listen to chapter 11 in David Goggins book, You Can’t Hurt Me.

Wealth:

  • Assess the UBER IPO.
  • Look into solar panels and going off the grid.

Charity:

  • Help son with setting up his new website.
  • Spend 9 am-12-noon training new recruits.
  • Write the next article for A Higher Branch community.
  • Write cards to my World Vision sponsored children.
  • Give legal advice and business strategy to a friend who is starting a new business.

Journaling in this way helps you keep track of your commitment to each of the eight areas of life otherwise you will end up focusing all of your time on work. I do a stock-take on Sunday night for the week in review to see if I have neglected any area.

This helps me pivot for the next week. There is so much more I can write about morning journaling.

Evening Journaling – Reflection Page:

Man sitting on the side walk journaling

The right page is for your heart. It is to review and reflect on what happened during the day.

So it is best done in the last hour of the day before bed. This nightly journaling is extremely powerful and useful for three reasons:

  1. To heal any hurt feelings, rejections, failures, disappointments that you had during the day.
  2. To list everything that happened in the day you are grateful for.
  3. To list all your achievements for the day.

Processing Feelings:

Processing your feelings is all about acknowledging them. The worst thing you can do with hurt feelings is to deny them and sweep them under the metaphorical carpet of your subconscious, only to manifest itself in headaches, poor sleep and irritability.

You cannot hide from your feelings. If you do they will haunt you. If you confront them head-on you will neutralise them. You need to feel to heal.

  • Did someone reject you today?
  • How did that make you feel?

You need to process it by stepping into their shoes and forgiving them. Did you make a mistake that made you feel like a failure? You need to process it by writing down what you learned from that mistake.

Gratitude:

If this is your first time journaling then I want you to go to the front of your journal and just like you listed your goals and dreams in each of the eight areas of life. I want you to devote some of those first few pages to list everything you are for in the eight areas of life to date.

Then every night you should write down what you should be grateful for that happened to you on that day. Simple, powerful and effective.

Achievements:

You may have heard of the power of gratitude but heard little about the equally powerful task of listing your achievements in the eight areas of your life. It will surprise how much you have achieved.

We live in an era of over-achievement and most of us can be too hard on ourselves and fall into the trap of feeling like we are, that we do not have enough, do enough. The reality is that we have achieved a lot and continue to achieve so much daily.

Listing your achievements daily reminds you of your self-worth, builds your confidence and neutralises the anxiety that lives in the gap between where you are now in life and where you want to be.

Want to read the rest of this series? You can find them here:

How To Get The Best Sleep- Part 2

By Sam Makhoul

The Definitive Guide To Sleeping Longer And Deeper:

In part one of this article on sleep, I outlined the latest stunning research which shows that sleep is more important than any other health protocol and impacts not just the body but cognitive performance and emotional wellbeing in a profound way. If you have not read part one, you can here: Is Sleep the Fountain of Youth?

In an age where artificial intelligence and technology is taking over jobs, it is very clear that creativity, imagination, strategic thinking and the ability to connect with others will be the most prized qualities for any person on the planet. Sleep is your superpower in promoting all of these qualities.

In part two of this series, I will outline the scientifically proven factors that impact good quality sleep, as they relate to the four elements:

  1. Duration
  2. Depth
  3. Continuity
  4. Regularity

Dysfunction in any one of these elements will compromise sleep. Knowing this will help you fix the cause. Later I will list some tips that induce sleep, but without fixing the root cause, those tips are useless.

It is very important to note at the outset that sleep is an innate quality. It will happen automatically with the protocols I am about to share.

So, this article will focus on returning you to your natural rhythm, where you will find sleep to be effortless. I know this from experience because I used to find sleep difficult and a waste of time because I had so much to do.

Today my respect for sleep has been deepened by the fact that sleep has transformed my performance in all eight areas of my life.

Depth:

Lady in a deep sleep

Depth is the most important element because, you will recall from part one of this series, that regeneration and repair of body and mind happen when you go into a long-wave deep sleep. Depth activates the mechanism of autophagy and production of human growth hormones.

The former helps you live longer, and the latter helps you look younger. The depth of your sleep is impacted dramatically by the following four factors:

1.    Not Enough Sunlight During The Day – Especially Morning Light: 

Exposure to natural light during the day is critical for the production of melatonin. This neurotransmitter gets produced naturally by the pineal gland.

Melatonin has two main functions. By day, it plays an active role in energy production by your mitochondria because it is a powerful antioxidant.

Secondly, it promotes deep sleep at night. The best way to get more melatonin naturally is to eat out in the sunlight and get as much sun on your skin and eyes, especially in the first hour of the morning.

I recommend you only wear sunglasses when absolutely necessary. I also recommend the ancient practice of sun-gazing. This is beautifully covered in the book Ancient Wisdom for Modern Health by Mark Bunn.

2.    Too Much Artificial Light At Night – Especially From Screens And Monitors:

Research shows that we now spend 93% of our time inside surrounded by artificial light. We eat in front of TVs.

We work in front of computers. We play games on screens. We browse social media on phones. This is wrecking us.

It is disrupting natural processes that heal and regenerate us. It is disturbing critical neuro pathways.

Exposure to artificial blue and white light at night is suppressing the release of melatonin and therefore the depth of your sleep. It also impacts the duration of sleep – see below.

Here are some tips:

  • Replace your LED’s with low lux lighting which can reduce blue/white light by up to 80%.
  • Put dimmers on all your lights.
  • Light candles instead.
  • Eliminate screen time at least one hour before bed. Ideally three hours or as soon as the sun goes down. If you absolutely have to get on your devices for something urgent, then I suggest you use the Apps Flux or IRIS. Both Apps reduce blue and white light considerably, but I prefer IRIS because it also eliminates flicker on your laptop screen. This flicker has been shown to cause a stress response.

3.    Body Temperature:

Getting overheated at night stops you from getting into longwave delta deep sleep levels three and four. You need to ensure that your room temperature is between 17-19 degrees Celsius.

The best way to achieve this is to put your bedrooms on different temperature settings than the rest of the house. Secondly do not over-dress for bed or have thick bed covers. Thirdly, roll away from your partner after the initial cuddle at night.

4.     EMF Interference: 

Electromagnetic pollution from cordless phones, Wi-Fi routers, Bluetooth devices and all devices not in aeroplane mode will all impact your depth of sleep because these frequencies activate your sympathetic nervous system and stop you from going into long wave delta sleep. No ifs or buts, EMF is very bad for your sleep.

How Do You Know If You Are Going Into Deep Sleep?

You can measure whether you are going into a deep sleep through the use of biometric devices such as the Oura Ring. But I strongly suggest you put it in aeroplane mode, especially at night, and only sync it with the App when you are not wearing it.

Duration:

Clock ticking

Duration is important because we all need five, 90-minute sleep cycles every night. This adds up to 7.5 hours.

Every cycle serves a unique biological purpose. Duration is mainly impacted when you cannot get to sleep at the optimal time.

You end up going to bed late and reducing the duration of your sleep. It is imperative for your circadian rhythm and thyroid function to wake on or soon after sunrise.

So, sleeping in to make up the time only makes matters worse. (Your optimal time for sleeping and waking according to your chrono-type is discussed below under continuity). 

Here are the factors that impact your ability to get to sleep. Staying asleep is covered under continuity below.

1. Artificial light at night suppresses the release of melatonin so it also affects duration. In fact, for every 60 minutes of artificial light, you get after sundown, you suppress the release of melatonin by 30 minutes. This effectively delays the time for you to start feeling sleepy and ready for bed. You need to get Amish and eliminate all technology at night.

2. Not enough movement during the day makes you feel flat and stagnant. The body needs to get tired during the day for better sleep at night. Movement is also critical to neutralising the effects of work or life stress. 

TIP: If you cannot play a sport or have the time to work out, try minimum effective dose exercise throughout the day. Do Tabata three, four minutes a day and go for a quick walk before lunch and dinner.

3. Stress boosts cortisol and adrenalin to keep you in a state of fight or flight. This will lead to high blood pressure and a rapid heartbeat, which prevent you from getting to sleep. And even if you do get to sleep it will affect your continuity because chances are you will wake up around 3 am-4 am with your heart beating out of your chest.

Stress also raises your body temperature which we discussed keeps you from going into a deep sleep. The best way to neutralise stress is to slow down during the day and perform your tasks at a normal pace. Research shows that it is not the amount of work we do but the speed in which do the work that is the main cause of stress. So slow down. Read the tips by Carl Honore in his book, In Praise of Slow.

4. Too Many Thoughts. Sometimes it is not stress that keeps you up but thoughts that go around and around in your head of things to do for the next day. Getting things down in your diary gets it out of your head. The five to 10 minutes it takes to do this will save you precious hours of lost sleep. 

5. Feelings are bothering you. You will find it difficult to get to sleep if feelings bubbling under the surface are not acknowledged and processed. To heal you need to feel. We all experience rejections, failures, hurts, and disappointments. The best way to process them is to journal your feelings, using the Higher Branch techniques as espoused by our faculty member, Dr Guy Winch in his book, Emotional First Aid.

6. Eating too late and too much can stop you from getting to sleep and consequently reduce your duration. Especially foods that are high in fat. It is best to avoid food within three hours of going to bed.

7. Caffeine Consumption in the 12 hours before bedtime. Caffeine overrides the sleep-inducing effects of melatonin and keeps you awake for longer. Some people can go to sleep after drinking coffee but the research shows unequivocally that the caffeine stops them from going into a deep sleep. Therefore, they never get the benefits of autophagy and HGH.

The Best Tips To Induce Sleep And Improve Duration:

  • Have a bath, steam or sauna one hour before bed. This helps your body temperature to drop which prepares you for sleep.
  • Sleeping meditation.
  • Listening to comedy.
  • Use an acupressure mat. I use the Shakti Mat. It is incredibly effective.
  • Socialising by talking or playing board games or cards. 
  • Essential oils of lavender for stress or rose geranium for anxiety.
  • Exercise during the day, especially in the morning.
  • Do the four, seven, eight breathing technique. Breath in for four seconds, hold for seven and exhale for eight. Do this at least five times before you go to sleep. Do this during the next technique.
  • Ground yourself. Standing barefoot on green grass drains all the positive ions from your system and replaces them with the earth negative ions. The latter is healing and calming. It engages the parasympathetic nervous system.

Continuity:

Coffee cup in bed

It is natural to wake in the last sleep cycle of the night around the six-hour mark. But if you are waking earlier in the first four sleep cycles, then you have a continuity problem.

Some of the factors outlined in the section above on duration will sometimes affect continuity. For example, if your stress is high then cortisol will surge at night and wake you.

Thoughts and feelings that were bothering you during the day will creep in.  But what is it that makes you wake up, to begin with, and interrupt your continuity in the first six hours?

Typically they are:

  1. Drinking too many fluids before bed.
  2. Eating too much before bed.
  3. Consuming more than one drink of alcohol within three hours before bed.
  4. Falling asleep in front of the TV. 

If you do wake at night, the best thing to do is roll over and keep sleeping. Do not get up and out of bed to drink or go to the toilet, unless you indulge in the list of four things just mentioned.

What about sleeping tablets to help you sleep and stay asleep? Research shows that sleeping tablets grossly interfere with your REM sleep, which is critical for resetting your short-term memory.

This will make you foggy during the day and make you ineffective in performing your tasks, especially tasks requiring client connection and creativity.

Regularity:

Sleeping according to your chronotype can improve regularity, especially during travel and work commitments. If you are a night person and you try to go to bed before 10:30 pm, you will lay awake in bed thinking you have insomnia.

If you are a morning person and go to bed too late, you will get over-tired and have trouble sleeping. According to the research, morning people should go to bed around 9:30 pm and wake at 5:30 am.

Night owls should go to bed around 11 pm and wake at 7 pm. If you are an in-betweener, then anytime between 9:30 pm and 11 pm for sleeping and 5:30 am and 7 am for waking.

In all cases, however, it is imperative for all chronotypes to get plenty of sunlight within the hour after waking. If there is a factor that influences sleep and overall energy levels the most, it would be to practice light hygiene.

Direct sunlight during the day will boost your energy, and the elimination of artificial light at night will induce sleep. They both improve your gut health profoundly, where the majority of melatonin is produced during the daylight hours.

Just think of it this way: good bacteria prefer sunshine. Bad bacteria thrive in darkness. I wish you light and the softness of sleep.

Is Sleep The Fountain Of Youth? – Part 1

Lady sleeping in bed

Lady sleeping in bed with brown sheets

By Sam Makhoul

I really dislike this cliché “this will change your life,” but in this case, sleep will literally do so. What happens to us during sleep is truly remarkable.

It is the ultimate detox for the mind and body. It is a reset button. A reboot.

In fact, if there was a magic elixir or superfood that could help you live not just a longer life but a beautiful one, make you look young, boost your brain power, boost your performance, improve your relationship, make you fun and attractive to friends and family, energetic, enthusiastic. 

Humans are wired to value scarcity. So, we go in search of elusive superfoods or medicinal herbs that grow in unique parts of the world.

But we ignore the most potent health protocol that is available to us for free every night. Sleep!

This article is not just about giving the usual list of tips for sleeping better. That is secondary and found all over the internet. 

I write this article with my lawyer hat on to convince you intellectually of the importance of sleep. Only then will you start to respect sleep.

In my experience of coaching myself and clients, the behavioural change will never happen unless you have complete clarity of why you are doing something. So, I will be sharing the science of sleep and how it impacts every part of your life.

When you really understand what goes on at a cellular level, this will have a profound emotional impact on you. It will then motivate you to take sleep more seriously and make the lifestyle changes I will be recommending later.

Straight up, I am not a sleep expert. But I research and retain information really well and I have studied this area for many years and read multiple papers and books by pioneering scientists, especially in the last two years, where there have been huge advancements.

I have also tested the protocols personally and documented the impact it has had on my own health and performance. I do this with the help of my Oura Ring, which gives me all the data I need to track the results of every sleep protocol I implement.

As an entrepreneur, I often say that “data provides the clarity for business strategy”. That is no different in your personal life. 

This is perhaps the most important article you will read from me this year. It is a little long, but I make no apologies for that.

I respect you too much to give you a cursory summary of what I think is the most important element to your wellbeing that impacts not only your physical but also your mental and emotional health.

Sleep Basics

Sleep happens in cycles typically of 90 minutes duration. So, over an optimal eight hours sleep you will get five cycles.

During this 90 minutes cycle you go into four levels of sleep.  Level’s three and four being the deepest sleep where your brain goes into long delta waves.

Towards the end of the 90 minutes cycle you go back up to REM sleep (they call it Rapid Eye Movement because that is when you do your dreaming). As the night progresses and you go from cycle to cycle you have less delta sleep and more REM sleep, which is why you tend to dream more in the morning hours.

Imagine it like going up and down a ladder five times per night. You will notice from the diagram below that most of your deep sleep happens early in the evening.

Typically this peaks during the second cycle. And this is when you go into a state of autophagy (promotes longevity) and experience a surge of human growth hormones (promotes youth).

Diagram of the sleep stages

There are four layers to your health:

  1. Physical
  2. Intellectual
  3. Emotional
  4. Spiritual.

In this article we will discuss how sleep impacts the first three energies.

The  depth duration continuity regularity is what defines high-quality sleep. And it is the combination of all four elements that increases your ability to activate autophagy’and HGH.

Research shows that dysfunction in any one of these four factors negatively alters sleep and accelerates ageing and disease. Depth is how deep your sleep is.

Duration is the length of sleep. Continuity is how long you sleep without waking (especially important in the first four cycles).

Regularity is how often you experience quality sleep. Every day? Five times per week?

How Does Sleep Impact Your Physical?

Long wave deep sleep is critical for activating a mechanism called autophagy. The mechanism was recently discovered in 2016 by Nobel prize winner, Yoshinori Ohsumi.

It is a scientific term meaning your body goes into self-cleaning mode. It leads to the regeneration and repair of all your cells throughout the body via the lymphatic system and the brain, via the glymphatic pathway while you sleep.

Simply put, it destroys the old, damaged, and malfunctioning components of your cells – and rebuilds new and healthier ones. It’s like an overnight spring clean to replace old cells.

So, autophagy is your body’s unique way of naturally rejuvenating and defending itself from disease. Lack of good quality and quantity of sleep will cause a dysfunction with the mechanism of autophagy.

The mind in particular will experience an abnormal build-up of B-Amyloid plaque on the very part of the brain which facilitates sleep – the pre-frontal cortex. Over time, this leads to even more sleep dysfunction, which clogs up the brain even more, accelerates cognitive ageing and contributes to the development of early onset dementia and Alzheimer’s. (Reference: Dr. David Rubinsztein, professor of molecular neurogenetics at the University of Cambridge).

When it comes to the body, poor quality sleep predictably leads to a multitude of physical ailments like:

  • Auto-immune diseases from increased inflammation
  • Poor thyroid function
  • Increased insulin/glucose resistance (pre-diabetes)
  • Shortening of your telomeres (these keep you young)
  • Skin ageing
  • Eyesight dysfunction
  • Cardiovascular disease
  • And a dramatic increase in the risk of cancer.

In relation to cancer, studies also show that shorter duration of sleep has been found to reduce the number of natural killer T cells by up to 30%. T cells are what fight cancer cells.

Over time, chronic sleep deprivation of under six hours per night dramatically increases the risk of cancer, especially coupled with the lack of exposure to daylight and lack of vitamin D. Interestingly, the research also shows that poor quality sleep tends to increase the amount of food you eat.

It increases ghrelin cells, which lead to an exaggerated hunger response.  High quality sleep on the other hand increases leptin cells.

These cells inhibit hunger and regulate energy balance, so the body does not trigger a hunger response when it does not need energy. Additionally, poor quality sleep increases your cravings for the wrong foods.

This is because the lack of sleep impact your gut health. Poor sleep leads to an overgrowth of bad bacteria that crave the wrong type of foods, typically, high in sugar, fat and salt.

In fact, science is now showing that good quality sleep from a healthy circadian rhythm is more important than pre-biotics and pro-biotics in the regulation of good gut health. If this is not bad enough, research shows that people who get six or fewer hours of sleep per night are four times as likely to get ill after being exposed to the flu virus.

But wait, there is more. Poor quality sleep reduces testosterone levels, which is critical for your libido (and relationship), fat metabolism, muscle strength and bone density.

Still, need more evidence of the importance of sleep? Let’s move to the impact on your mental and emotional health.

How Does Sleep Impact Your Intellectual?

Lady waking up in bed

Poor quality sleep (especially influencing depth and duration) impacts your cognitive and work performance in a profound way. As we enter this age of automation and artificial intelligence, the key skills of creativity, imagination and strategising will become super important to your success.

Sleep impacts all of these three key skills in a profound way. In a recent study performed by the team at Berkeley University led by Professor Matthew Walker, they stunningly found that even one night’s sleep deprivation impacted cognitive performance by 40%.

This is a huge impact. They found that you need sleep to prime the brain before learning and processing new information and you need sleep; after learning to retain or store that same information you learned.

So, sleep before, stores information in the short-term memory (the hippocampus part of the brain) and deep sleep after allows you to transfer that same information into your long-term memory (the cortex). This allows you to reset your short-term memory for use the next day.

Meaning, if you do not get enough deep sleep, your short-term memory does not reset efficiently and therefore impairs your ability to learn and process new information the next day, because that part of the brain has a limited storage capacity (approx. 16 hours). Think of it like a USB stick.

Therefore, a good sleep of depth and duration will have the benefit of clearing your short-term memory reservoir for use the next day.

How Does Sleep Impact Your Emotional?

There is a strong correlation between high EQ and personal performance. Poor quality and quantity sleep impact your emotional stability.

It increases activity in the emotional part of the brain (the amygdala), which becomes 60% more reactive due to the dampening down of your rational brain (the pre-frontal cortex). This is an immediate trigger for anxiety which in turn negatively impacts your ability to sleep.

This leads to a vicious cycle of sleeping less and experiencing higher anxiety. Dr Walker’s research lab shows that this negative loop eventually leads to social isolation because people who are sleep deprived show a strong tendency to distance themselves from social interaction.

Moreover, it showed that the issue was compounded because they were in turn shunned by others; which caused more social isolation and inevitably depression. This is what the R U OK movement is essentially trying to avoid.

Depression causes your hippocampus to shrink, which then impacts your short-term memory. Earlier, I outlined these were critical for your creativity and strategic thinking, and therefore your performance at work and in business.

Poor sleep also amplifies the stress response in a unique way. Your tolerance level drops, your irritability rises, and you are quick to anger.

Hardly good qualities for optimal work performance. In fact, the negative emotions of anger, fear, anxiety and depression (even general unhappiness) will drain your physical energy and this dramatically reduces your effectiveness in all areas of life.

The Definitive Guide To Sleeping Longer And Deeper:

In part two of this article (read it here), I discuss the four elements to good quality sleep. They are duration, depth, continuity and regularity.

I list the major factors that negatively impact these four elements. Knowing this will help you fix the root cause of poor sleep.

And when you do this, you will find that sleep becomes as innate and natural as breathing and drinking water. More specifically I outline the following:

  • Depth: The two major lifestyle changes that will increase the depth of your sleep and activate autophagy and trigger high. These protocols will work almost immediately.
  • Duration: The two major causes of a reduction in the duration of your sleep. And how to prevent them with two simple techniques. I also share with you seven techniques that will induce sleepiness so you can get to sleep on time every night.
  • Continuity: The three major reasons why you are having interrupted sleep and how to sleep through the three sleep cycles of the night where you are most prone to waking. Refer to the diagram above.
  • Regularity: How sleeping according to your chronotype can increase regularity, especially during travel and work commitments. I share the exact best time to sleep and wake according to your chronotype.

Why Breathing Techniques Need To Be One Of Your Daily Rituals

Is Poor Breathing Making You Sick?

Is Poor Breathing Making You Sick?

By Sam Makhoul

This is the last of the six life-hacks, one that is easy to apply, will not take time from your day but will have a huge impact on your physical, mental and emotional health. It is the ultimate detox, the ultimate stress buster, immune booster and the best performance enhancer second to sleep, but in turn, impacts the quality of your sleep.

It is the conscious use of the breath (commonly known as prana or chi), associated with spirit, passion, life, power and magnetism. It is important that you understand what is going on with the breath and its impact on the chemical and physiological activities of the body which includes the mind.

Knowing this gives you ultimate control so you can put yourself in any desired state depending on what you want to achieve at the moment. There are two types of breathing:

  • Subconscious natural breathing. This is controlled by what is going on in your heart and mind.
  • Conscious breathing where you bring your awareness to the breath. This conversely controls your heart and mind. And there are two states or outcomes from your breathing. 

They either step you into your:

  • The parasympathetic nervous system (rest and digest) – usually associated with nose breathing.
  • Sympathetic (fight or flight) – associated with mouth breathing.

Both states serve a purpose so there is no such thing as good or bad but rather, a natural state or unnatural state. If you are running a race, engaging the sympathetic with mouth breathing is important, but the same mouth breathing sitting at a desk fretting is unnatural.

The breath is a gateway to multiple states and the purpose of this article is to teach you the different techniques so you can use the breath as a very powerful tool. Stressed?

No problem you will know what to do. Needing energy? No problem again. Needing creativity? 

Whatever technique you choose below, there is one powerful element that is common to all awareness! Awareness is the magic ingredient.

I will now share with you the techniques I have learned over the years and read about from pioneers like Dan Brule. His book Just Breathe was life-changing.

Breathing For Stress Relief Or Sleep: 

This is a technique I created for myself that is a combination of diaphragmatic and box breathing. It is the quickest way to interrupt the fight or flight stress response and trigger the body’s normal relaxation response.

The added benefit to this technique is that it strengthens the diaphragm and trains the body to breathe from the belly subconsciously.

“When the breath is shallow, the mind is unsteady but when the breath is calmed the mind is still; therefore, when you control the breath, you control your mind” – Swatmarama Hatha Yoga Pradipika.

The Technique:

Lie flat on your back with your knees bent. Put one hand on your belly and the other on your heart.

Breath in for four seconds, hold for four, out for 4 four and hold for four. Your belly should rise and fall with each breath in and out.

Repeat 10 times or for as long as you require to notice your body relax. You will know it. When you are in an anxious state the first four reps are difficult but if you persist, you will literally change your body chemistry in a few minutes. Mentally counting will help.

Breathing For Detox:

Use this technique if you feel like you are coming down with something or if you are stuck in air-conditioning all day. Do it outside in the fresh air.

Did you know that 70% of detox happens by the lungs through the breath? So, if you are shallow breathing throughout the day, you are not detoxing efficiently.

We typically shallow breath when we are driving, on devices or in meetings. You will get tired, get brain fog and impact your immune system.

That’s why this life-hack is so important! Especially if you are an office worker like me.

The following breathing technique takes 63 seconds twice a day. That’s all.

A lot of people don’t believe that something so simple will have any effect, so they will not do it. Science has proven that this simple breathing technique, will trigger the release of endorphins, stimulates the lymphatic system and expels carbon monoxide.

The Technique:

Place your tongue against the ridge behind your upper teeth. Close your mouth and inhale deeply through your nose for a count of four. Hold your breath for seven and exhale through your mouth for a count of eight.

Repeat three times. It may feel weird, but it will feel natural after a few goes.

Breathing For Creativity:

Creativity comes from the heart, not the mind. The heart is where the seat of passion is.

It is no coincidence that the lungs wrap around the heart. And when you take a deep breath, the heart expands and this takes you out of the head and into your heart.

Only then can you tap into your creativity. Try this simple technique to help you get creative.

I do this every morning after meditation. It only takes a few minutes and makes me super sharp throughout the day.

Alternate Nostril Breathing:

While sitting, close your right nostril with your right thumb. Exhale and then inhale through your left nostril.

Release your right nostril and close your left nostril with your ring finger. Exhale and then inhale through your right nostril.

And repeat for a few minutes. I do this for five minutes. You can use your left hand. Breath naturally.

Once you get the hang of it, it will start to flow naturally. This technique is also popular with Aussie health researcher and ayurvedic medicine practitioner, Mark Bunn.

Breathing for Performance Enhancement & Depression Relief:

There are many benefits claimed to what is now known as the Wim Hoff breathing method, made famous by the endurance athlete Wim Hoff. Anything from asthma management, Lyme disease treatment, arthritis and fibromyalgia relief, boosting concentration and increasing willpower.

The only well-documented benefits are performance enhancement from boosting energy and significantly relieving depression. I will not list the science here because if you Google it you will find a tonne of info on this method from multiple research universities.

I will also note for the sake of mention that this method is very similar to a technique invented by Leonard Orr.

The Technique:

Take 30 quick and deep breaths inhaling consciously through the nose and exhaling naturally through your mouth. Don’t try and control the out-breath.

Just let it go. After 30 deep breaths exhale the last breath and then hold until you are gasping to breathe in.

Inhale again as deep as you can and hold it for 10 seconds. As a variation, I like to drop to the floor and do as many push-ups whilst holding my breath until I am gasping to take a breath again.

Repeat this as many times as you like but I find that my whole system is well oxygenated after just one set and I am pumped with energy and feeling great! I promise you will too.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

Life-Hack #3: Oil Pulling & Your Amazing Saliva

Life Hack #4: The Power Of Laughter

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

The Power of Laughter

Three people running

Three people running

By Sam Makhoul

Firstly, I need to clarify what a life-hack is. It is a lifestyle protocol that will boost your energy, help you sleep better, boost your immune system and ultimately make you live longer.

Why is laughter a life-hack that is in my top six? Just like a bodybuilder will focus on compounding exercises such as squats, the six life-hacks, including this one on laughter, all have a compounding effect on your health. 

In other words, the impact is far-reaching inside the body. Let me explain why laughter is so important to your health by explaining its impact on your physical, mental and emotional health.

Physically:

  • Decreases the stress hormones cortisol and adrenalin
  • Lowers blood pressure because it boosts nitric oxide and dilates the inner lining of blood vessels. It even increases HDL.
  • Increases the circulation of antibodies that boosts resistance to infections
  • 60 seconds of hearty laughter relieves tension in your muscles for up to 45 minutes. That makes it more potent than Valium without the side-effects
  • It relieves depression

Thoughts (Mind):

  • Laughter (or even ‘humour’ without having to laugh out loud) boosts dopamine to the brain and thus increases the sense of pleasure and reward.
  • It changes brain wave activity towards what’s called a “gamma frequency” and this amps up memory and recall. 

Ultimately the combination of mind and body benefits lead your mood to greener pastures. You have peace of mind and sleep better at night.

Suddenly everything seems manageable, even pain or loss or failure. You smile more.

You have an air of self-confidence and you start attracting good things and good people into your life, including customers. Most importantly it will improve your relationships with family, friends and your partner.

I coached one client who said that until he learned how to laugh, his kids found him too serious and scary. When he learned to let go and laugh more he was getting more hugs at home.

In fact, research shows that people who are fun, witty and smile often are voted as more attractive. Not bad for a life-hack aye? Which is why it comes in at number four in our series.

How To Increase Laughter In Your Daily Life:

  • Surround yourself with people who feel like sunshine – in other words, who make you laugh and are easy going. Physically, we do feel warmer from laughter.
  • Listen to or watch, comedy – preferably at a live comedy show. One of my nightly rituals is to listen to comedy every night before I go to sleep.
  • Read our article Yes But Are You Having Fun? There are many spiritual teachers who believe that our highest purpose in life is to play, have fun and spread happiness.

Read more from this series:

Life Hack #1: Grounding & Sun Gazing

Life-Hack #2: Eating Properly And Maximising Nutritional Absorption

Life-Hack #3: Oil Pulling & Your Amazing Saliva

Life Hack #5: Your Sixth Sense

Life-Hack #6: Let There Be Breath

The One Big Mistake Parents Make When Raising Children

Child running with fairy floss

By Dr. Guy Winch

Using fear and guilt to get your children to cooperate is perhaps the most damaging mistake parents can make. Parents don’t realise they are making this mistake until it is too late and their children start experiencing disorders such as anxiety, depression and obsessive compulsive behaviours. 

“Tom, get off your iPad or you will need glasses! Sally, stop eating cookies, you will get fat!”

Sound familiar? Yes, being on technology too long is bad for your eyes.

And yes, eating too much sugar is bad for your energy levels and weight. But do you know what’s far worse than that physical damage?

The emotional guilt and fear you are dumping on your children. Fear and guilt are a deadly combination of the human spirit.

Little girl eating a donut

They crush curiosity, creativity and zest for living a fun boundless life. Physical damage can almost always be reversed with diet and exercise, but emotional damage lasts a lifetime.

It is far more debilitating. Just ask anyone that suffers from anxiety or depression.

Rather than teaching our kids to do things out of love for self, we are teaching them to do things out of fear. Our own fears.

We think we are educating them when in truth we are terrifying them. As parents, we are much more experienced than our children and so we use Google knowledge to make sure that they do not get physically hurt.

But, the one thing children have over us is freedom from future fears. A pure absence of consequential fear, which is a beautiful human state.

Consequential fear is simply this: If you do this wrong now, you will suffer that in the future. Children, however, live in the present, (where we all should live).

But make no mistake, that does not make them stupid. Children from the age of five know how to avoid present and immediate danger.

“But I care for my child, I cannot let them eat junk food and be on technology all day, it is bad for them! I read books on the dangers of sugar. I watched this video on the dangers of social media and technology!” 

I get it. I am a parent too. It is difficult.

I am not contemplating you sit and do nothing. But you need to decide which psychology you want to use.

Positive or negative? You need to teach your children to do things out of self-love, not fear.

For example, “If you eat carrots you will have super eyesight”. If we go outside and play soccer you will get big muscles.”

Positive talk like this gets them to do things out of self-love. It builds self-confidence and makes them emotionally solid for life.

Sure they will make mistakes, but they are their mistakes to make and learn from. Don’t rob them of that basic human experience, even if it is painful and makes them vulnerable sometimes. What makes them vulnerable will make them beautiful as they grow older.

Read About Dr Guy Winch Here.

What is Your Type?

Family eating dinner

Family walking through a field together

By Sam Makhoul

What foods suit you best and at what times? What exercise routine best suits your personality and body type?

What are your chrono-type and optimal sleep pattern? What are your creative and analytical hours of work?

What are your natural talents? What is the best meditation routine for you?

What is your core personality type? What wealth creation methods best suit your risk appetite?

What is your ideal relationship? What are your strengths and what are your weaknesses?

How can you live until 100? There are so many questions and we can help you find your answers!

No two people in this world are the same. Even identical twins can be remarkably different.

One person’s vegan diet is another person’s energy-downer. One person’s high-intensity routine is another person’s stress.

As western society moves from one fad to another, people are more confused than ever. All the latest research is starting to show that our uniqueness requires a personalised approach to nutrition, exercise, relaxation, sleep, work, social life and even sex.

That is, we all want to be happy and fulfilled but we all have different pathways to that destination. You are the only you in this world and you are unique in every way.