Get in a good state for reading and learning – Speed Reading Technique #14
Micro-summary: Having a relaxed, alert, questioning, purposeful mind is the ideal state for reading if you want to understand and remember information. Many of the other spd rdng techniques are also designed to get your mind and body in an optimal state for reading.
The optimal state for understanding and taking in information is to be alert, relaxed, positive, purposeful and questioning and many of the techniques in our 200-page speed reading book are about getting into a good state for reading:
- check that physical factors are in your favour (speed reading technique 33) – in particular, sip water
Make sure you are:
- physically alert – take regular breaks (speed reading technique 27) and do some exercises which get your energy flowing and allow you to relax
- mentally alert – have a clear purpose (speed reading technique 4), talk to yourself (speed reading technique 19), take notes (speed reading technique 17)
Every time you start to read, get into the habit of:
- taking a deep breath in – and consciously relaxing your body as you breathe out, practice coherent breathing
- smiling (speed reading technique 7) – and maintaining your inner smile even when you relax your face
- focusing on your concentration point (speed reading technique 10) to open your peripheral vision
- pausing … and planning what you’re about to do.
- drinking some water to relax your body and hydrate your brain
Expert tip You’ll take in more information if you keep guessing or anticipating what you think is coming next.
Triune brain theory
According to Paul McClean’s triune brain theory, your brain cannot concentrate on higher thinking (eg reading and learning) if you are physically uncomfortable (eg hungry, tired, needing the loo) or emotionally unbalanced (either sad or over-excited). Sort those things out before you start your work session.
Stress: responsible for 80% of problems with learning and reading (and passing exams)
80% of learning and reading difficulties are caused by stress! WHO declared stress as an epidemic. Any stress will interfere to some extent with your reading ability. It, therefore, makes sense to make a habit of getting into a good state before you start reading. Always get into a good state before you read and before you start driving, as you walk into the office before you walk through your front door. Notice how the quality of your everyday life improves. And once this becomes a state you regularly get into, you’ll find that you can use it consciously whenever you are in a potentially stressful situation, such as an exam, a job interview, or dealing with screaming children! And smile more…
Exams are stressful and most people don’t enjoy the experience. Master accelerated learning study skills and you’ll be better prepared, more relaxed and have better chances to pass your exams successfully.
YES BUT …
What if I’ve done all that and I’m just not in a good state?
Then do something else. Go for a walk. Get something else done. Think about something nice. Do something to make you feel good. And then go back to your reading. And the more you follow the simple formula ‘breathe, smile, focus’, the easier you will find it to get into a good state at will.
By the way … Dehydration contributes to brain cells shrivelling up, enlarged ventricles of the heart, the brain working harder with poor results, and impaired cognition and attention as well as forgetfulness and speech problems.
Top health hacks to manage stress, improve your mood and state quickly
• Diet: add magnesium, vitamin C, omega 3, drink water, moringa or green tea, avoid sugar and use xylitol instead
• Exercise: optimises mood, boosts endorphins and neurotransmitters such as serotonin, dopamine, norepinephrine
• Speed up / sprint finish: finishing a bike ride, walking, or a jog with a 30-second sprint doubles the endorphins released and boost levels of noradrenalines for 90 minutes afterwards
• Meditation/mindfulness: now taught in many schools now; learn to stay in the present moment; mind-wandering is mostly 60% worrying about the past or the future so staying present cuts down 60% of your imaginary stress
• Photo-therapy: looking at photos of happy times (holidays, events, family, friends, etc) will boost your endorphin effect (happy hormones) more effectively than chocolate (no!?), music, or TV, according to a study by the Open University. Just look at the photo below and your endorphins will be boosted via your mirror cells/neurons
• Speed thinking: rapid thought (good for speed reading too) – in 30 seconds, list all the good things about your work/ relationship/home / etc – to release feel-good brain chemicals ie serotonin
• Hug yourself, haptic therapy: just rub your hands, neck, forehead to stimulate haptic pleasure receptors and reduce the cortisol (the stress hormone) and boost oxytocin (use Havening technique)
• Radiation: minimise fluorescent lighting or energy saving light bulbs and mobile phones and switch off wifi for the night!
• Prime yourself for a good state: say“I’m/feel excited” or “I feel calm”; fake it until you make it; saying ‘I feel excited’ is easier because the parts of the brain responsible for stress and excitement are very close; saying ‘I feel calm’ is less easy because it’s opposite of what you’re probably feeling ie anxious or stressed
• Tapping (EFT – emotional freedom technique): a simple technique to reduce stress based on acupuncture points http://eft.mercola.com
• Journaling method. Writing down all your worries and concerns on a piece of paper is another very good and easy technique to manage stress. It’s been proven scientifically that this works. You can then throw, burn, shred the paper to let go of your worries, etc.
• Coherent and/or conscious breathing. Any conscious breathing helps to calm down and relax your mind. Coherent breathing is breathing in and counting to five/six and breathing out for the count of five/six. There is no gap between the breath. You can do it for a few minutes. Adjust your breathing to your needs so the counting can be four or five or six. Research suggests that coherent breathing helps to regulate HRV (heart rate variability) and boosts resilience and there are HRV apps to help you automate and entrain this breathing process.