Why do we spend so much time in hustle / beta brainwave mode?
This series was intended to give you practical ideas and tips to incorporate into your days to make your life better. Some suggestions might resonate with you more than others, and that’s okay. The important thing now is that you take this information and continue to learn, grow, and apply the principles into your life.
Here is a brief summary of the brainwave states and how we can manipulate our internal and external environment to enter into each state more easily:
Beta brainwaves are one of the highest frequency brainwaves, and are associated with being in a state of deep focus and execution. Simple techniques such as exercise, mindfulness, and even cold exposure can help you enter into this state more often. However, being in this state at all times is unsustainable. This is because deep focus uses up a lot of energy, drains our resources, hinders our creativity, and prevents us from reaching our potential. Therefore, you need to make sure you schedule in recovery time in between periods of intense focus and concentration so that you can come back to this state feeling refreshed and motivated.
Alpha brainwaves come about during periods of reflection, strategizing, and learning. It is a state of metacognition — when we are aware of our own thoughts. In order to get into this state, you need to get out of beta brainwave mode and relax your body so you can get into strategic thinking and reflective mode. Learning how to manage stress will help you enter into this state more easily.
Theta brainwaves are present during creativity, deep insight, and ‘Eureka!’ Moments. Learning how to decrease tension helps us enter into a state where we can make new connections and come up with solutions to old problems. A powerful hack for entering into theta brainwave mode is to do something called moving meditation — any activity in which you move in a repetitive, rhythmic pattern, such as walking, swimming, jogging, rowing, or biking. In this state, you’re allowing your mind to wander and opening it up to the possibility of great insight, creativity, and innovation.
Delta brainwaves are the slowest brainwave pattern and are present during deep sleep. This is when we restore energy levels, repair tissues, remove waste, and recover from a hard workout. In addition to good sleep hygiene, pausing to rest during your waking hours also sets you up for a deep and restful sleep.
Finally, Gamma brainwaves are at the highest frequency and are evident during peak experiences or flow moments. Allowing ourselves to recover and regenerate allows us to open ourselves up to these peak moments.
In order to reach our potential and experience life at the highest possible level, we need to spend time in each of these brainwave states. The question then is why do we spend so much time in beta brainwave mode?
The world, how it is currently designed, is not setting us up for success. In a world of unrelenting distraction, we are rewarded with short term results — a like on social media, or checking things off your to-do list even if they’re not important work. In beta mode, we get these short term results. This might feel good at the moment, but it doesn’t allow us to unleash our creativity, take time to reflect, and reach our potential.
When we are in alpha mode, we get results but they take longer — a week, a month, maybe a year. When we’re in theta mode, results are on a longer time scale and we have to do an enormous amount of work to bring our creative vision to life. In gamma mode, we don’t get any results, however in this state, we experience life at the highest possible degree.
So if we want to shift from being in constant hustle beta mode to alpha, theta, and maybe even to gamma mode, we have to move the finish line and look ahead to the future. Creating a clear vision of the future based on our creative instincts and ideas will enable us to give ourselves permission to get out of short term addiction to distraction and dopamine hits, and back into the pursuit of mastery and the realization of our true human potential.
If you want to dive deeper into the science of brainwave states, check out my book Rest Refocus Recharge: A Guide for Optimizing your Life.