Taking time to think

Our very own Daniele Fiandaca is a Street Wizard, part of a tribe of Wizards using Street Wisdom to answer some of the world’s biggest problems. Find out why Street Wisdom works and why taking part in the next World Wide Wander is so good for your (mental) health.

Being busy is the modern plague and if I was paid a pound every time I was met with the response of ‘I’m busy’ when I ask ‘how are you?’ I’d be a millionaire. The problem with busy is time is all too often taken up by getting stuff done as opposed to working out what stuff to focus on in the first place.

Which is where Street Wisdom comes in. Street Wisdom is a three-hour guided experience that uses the streets as an invisible university. In the session we teach participants how to tune their brains into the streets and use what is around them to solve their problems. Street Wisdom takes busy and kicks her in the butt asking you to take time out to answer your challenges by hacking your brain to be more creative and to find your own answers from inside.

Which is why on the morning of September 8th I sprung out of bed, despite the pouring rain, with great excitement as Utopia were holding their first ever Street Wisdom as part of the World Wide Wander. And despite this rain we had a full house and just as we briefed our participants, the sun put her hat on and we were treated to a glorious afternoon of sunshine and enlightenment.

Our group were fully prepared to hack their brain and were not short of problems they wanted to solve:

· Why don’t I write more?

· What kind of interests should I find?

· How do I grow my business offering?

· How do I break out of my current cycle?

· How do I balance my life so its most fun, profitable and acceptable to my family?

· How do I better engage my daughter with reading?

· How do I cope with my boss?

· What should I focus on?

· How can I get my poetry out there?

· What am I offering in terms of my business?

Some very big questions which found some very interesting answers. Perhaps my favourite was from Tom who simply mapped out all the skills he has learnt through his career to work where his business offering could go:

This is the 3rd time I have organised a Street Wisdom session and yet again it provided a uniquely creative space to solve some of people’s biggest challenges. It is ironic that each time I have run a session it is the CEOs of businesses that cancel because they are too busy when they are perhaps the ones that need the time and the space the most.

Sleepy head: hacking sleep

For the May edition of our Towards Utopia newsletter we asked Jo Carnegie, Utopian & Wellbeing writer, to give us her thoughts and advice on sleep. And in the spirit of following her advice…maybe don’t read this in bed on your phone…

How do you sleep? Modern life can feel busy and full on. It’s normal to be knackered these days and, as one expert describes it: “walking around in a permanent state of jet lag.” But we’re starting to wake up to the fact that sleep isn’t something that can be shoved to the bottom of our priorities, or propped up with shedloads of coffee. Sleep is fast becoming one of our most precious commodities and the secret weapon to leading a healthier, happier and more productive life. The science of sleep is a booming field: studies have shown that sleep:

  • cleans the brain of toxins
  • aids brain development
  • improves cognitive function
  • super-charges our memory
  • gives us ninja concentration.

While not getting enough sleep can lead to mental and physical ill conditions like anxiety, stress, depression, obesity and even Alzheimer’s.

It’s not just how we sleep but what we eat. Caffeine, alcohol and big meals before bedtime may have been seen as the main sleep-snatchers until now, but attention is switching to how our sugar consumption affects our sleep (did you know you carry on having sugar crashes when you’re asleep?). And rather than looking at what we eat for dinner, the nutritional focus is looking at what we eat much earlier in the day and how we should start to prepare for bed with a sustainable breakfast. The good news is that with small tweaks, like eating a good protein-based diet packed with the right vitamins and minerals (more magnesium is key) and having a healthy amount of rest and recuperation, we can all sleep our way to better wellbeing (and probably healthier bank accounts). So how are you going to do your sleep from now on?

My top sleep hack: have a microsleep

Feel knackered during the day? Hack your tiredness with a microsleep. “We’re built to have many sleep patterns in a day (polyphasic) as opposed to one big sleep phase (monophasic),” says sleep expert Dr Nerina Ramlakhan. Does the idea of going for a kip in your working day feel beyond the realms of possibility? Even closing your eyes for five minutes can help your brain shut down and go into a state of rest and recovery. “The working memory, which stores information when we’re concentrating, closes down momentarily while we’re closing our eyes,” says Dr Ramlakhan. “So when we open our eyes and come out of our microsleep, we have renewed energy and concentration.”