Mindfulness in the Age of Distraction

Mindfulness in the Age of Distraction

Many books and articles have been written on mindfulness but it’s difficult to remain mindful in the age of technology with the constant interruption of notification sound effects, vibrations, and ringtones. Our minds are wired for these distractions; they love, love, love the hit. It’s a bit like fireworks going off in our brain; when our cell phones sound, our brains light up with dopamine, the happiness chemical. But just like the sound of slot machines can have a habit-forming quality so can the hits we get from our cell phone sounds, to the detriment of our ability to enjoy the present moment and the people in our company. Time Magazine’s recent article, You Asked: Am I Addicted to My Phone, looks at the potential impact of smartphones on our health and relationships.

So what would it be like to be really present today with a family member or friend whom you really love? To fully give your attention to that person without checking your phone (not even once)? The long-term benefits of spending some time each day fully tuning in to the present moment without phone distractions may just surprise you.

Creating change in 2015

Creating change in 2015

It’s the New Year and we’ve all been asked about our New Year’s resolutions. Whether you’ve made a resolution or not, the new year can be a good time to pause and reflect on the changes you want to create in your life. Happier, healthier relationships? Greater career/work satisfaction? Getting more physically active? Creating more balance in an often stress-filled modern world? Here are some things to remember as you step into change.

1) Change begins with you. Waiting for other people or circumstances to change is putting your life on hold.

2) Long lasting change happens slowly. Breaking down a big goal into smaller steps generally leads to longer lasting change than trying to do it all at once. For example if your goal is to exercise more this year, start off slowly. Better to take one workout class a week than plan to be at the gym for an hour 5 days a week.  Change takes getting used to and often abrupt changes aren’t sustainable.

3) Change your environment, change your behavior. Research shows that our habits (good and bad) are often associated with a cue. When we change our environment or daily routine we have a better chance of breaking a bad habit.

Go out there and make a small change each day!

Reducing Stress

Reducing Stress

Surfer on a WaveStudies show that taking quick relaxation breaks throughout the day can increase productivity and reduce stress. How about taking 20 seconds to relax right now?  Click on the photo (left) for a 20 second video escape to the ocean.

Interested in more ways to build in stress relievers throughout the day? Author and CEO Tony Schwartz explores the physiology of stress and tips to reduce stress and manage energy in a recent New York Times article: “Relax! You’ll Be More Productive”

Dream into Action

Dream into Action

What are your dreams for 2013? Often we refer to our dreams as New Year’s Resolutions. This tends to provide inspiration for change as we tell our family members, friends and co-workers about them in early January. We may say we will get fit, reduce our spending, or improve our relationships this year. But what happens by February or March? Does that newly purchased gym membership card sit idly on the table? Are you afraid to look at your credit card statements? Does the e-book you purchased on improving communication with your partner remain bookmarked on Chapter 1?

For many of us, it’s difficult to stick to New Yea’s Resolutions because the brain is not wired to welcome big changes too quickly. A jump start often leads to sputtering out. To make long-lasting changes in your life this year, consider the following:

Take one small step every day toward your big dream. If your goal is to improve your fitness, don’t start out by trying to run an hour on the treadmill if you’ve never done that. Why would your body and mind want to go back to such discomfort? Instead, start out with a five-minute walk each day around the block  or five-minutes of walking on the treadmill at your gym. Then you can start doing a minute more each week while also slowly changing your speed (of course, always consult your doctor before starting any exercise program).

Get social support. Many of us are more motivated if we can be held accountable or have family or friends who can join us on our journey.

Don’t be afraid to use technology. The free app Mint can help with getting finances on track; other apps can help with staying motivated and on track to healthier living.