September is recognized as National Self-Care Awareness month. It marks a distinct change from lazy summer attitudes to the start of a new, busy era. This serves as a good reminder for us to pay attention to our mindset and allow time to recharge.
Most of us already regard our digital devices as indispensable, but as demands on our time increase, overuse can be detrimental to our well-being. Research shows that too much time spent on email and social media reduces our productivity and engagement at home and at work.” (Harvard Review)
Giving in to frequent distractions while working or engaging in personal interactions can create a physiological hyper-alert state. This activates our body’s stress response. Overtime, if these habits are not altered they can inhibit our ability to focus, impede our memory, interfere with sleep patterns and cause mental and physical exhaustion.
The good news is there are methods we can adopt to break the cycle and give our brains a rest. The first step is to recognize the need and benefit of time away from distractions. A “digital detox” doesn’t have to be extreme. It can be as simple as the Getting Things Done Method, #GTD, developed by Consultant David Allen. It employs a controlled method of meticulous workflows of activity, without distraction. That means that there is no exposure to digital mediums beyond the current project. Task centric methods can help us create healthier lifestyle habits, but at times, life’s demands intrude and the “perfect plan” must be adapted.
When it comes to the human feeling experience, research has moved in the direction of Mindfulness practices, as a “best choice” for addressing the digital distraction problem. “The purpose of mindfulness isn’t to rid our life of distractions or even to ignore them. The idea is to use mindfulness to help manage our reactions, thoughts and feelings to these distractions” . (Digital Business 3 2023)In time it helps us to not let them overwhelm the present moment.
Consider introducing a 1-minute mindfulness exercise into your life. Sit comfortably in your chair, close your eyes and focus on your breathing. Calmly breathe deeply, in and out. If your mind wanders, bring your attention back to your breath. After awhile, you may find that you are looking forward to this quiet moment and may even introduce more of these mini breaks into your day. Research shows that regular meditation of a short duration also offers health benefits and that regular daily practice seems to be more important than the length of your practice.
As your September agenda starts to fill, take time for “mini breath breaks” and recharge. Your body and mind will be grateful.