In the world of instant access to information, when does your brain have a chance to catch up?
Have you ever been working on a problem or project and just can’t quite figure it out. You work at it, and work at it, but the solution doesn’t come. Then, the next morning, you are in the shower and the perfect solution just pops into your head.
Dr. Joanne Cantor, author of Conquer CyberOverload has spent years researching the brain and tells us constant connection squashes our creativity and increases our stress. Taking a break may be just what your brain needs.
In a recent article on the Psychology Today Blog she writes:
Research also shows that well-timed breaks to low-information environments not only restore our brain’s efficiency, they promote creativity and problem-solving. Focusing on a problem is good, but to make that creative leap, to think outside the box, we need to relax that focus and allow ideas to come to the fore that we didn’t initially think were relevant.
But the problem is, we’re never NOT receiving input anymore. We’re virtually always connected to our gadgets, which are either giving us an alert or tantalizing us with something new. With most people today, the minute we finish inputting one thing, we’re inputting the next. As we’re walking out of a meeting, we’re checking our messages. On the way home from work, we’re listening to the news or a self-improvement tape. We don’t have time to think anymore, to ponder, to mull, to integrate or to consider.
She offers some suggestions to give your brain a chance to catch up:
(a) On your way to a meeting, take a break from your gadgets in order to think about what to expect and what your role will be.
(b) When you leave the meeting, give yourself a few minutes to mull over what just happened and what your next steps might be, rather than immediately checking messages.
(c) On your way home from work, mentally review your day and think about how it impacts tomorrow; then give yourself a moment for an attitude-adjustment for what’s expected of you at home. Then check the radio if you want.
(d) When you get stuck on a project due to information-overload or brain exhaustion, take a break that involves exercise, nature or some other low-information activity.
Here are some tips to disengage from your gadgets and get the break your brain needs:
- Replace “Facebook” with face-time: As tempting as it may be, when you sit down to a meal or a conversation, don’t engage you gadgets. You may think you can participate in a conversation or meal and text at the same time – but you can’t. Unless you are on-call, leave your gadgets in your pocket – or better yet, turn them off. Your digestive system and dining companions will thank you. Social interaction is essential to good health, as is paying attention to what you eat.
- Do something with your hands: Finding it hard to disengage? Find a way to distract yourself. Bake cookies, help set the table, knit, do woodworking, tie fishing lures, read a book, hold a child, play a board game… anything to keep your hands off the gadget! Refrain from texting, updating your status or sending emails.
- Get outside: Interacting with nature – even for 10 minutes lowers stress and calms the body. Go out notice the sounds, sights, and smells.
- Choose the time you connect: Allow your body to wake and drift off to sleep without electronic interruption. Read, listen to music, talk to your spouse, or have a cup of tea for the first and last 30 minutes you are awake. Ban the television from the bedroom, turn off your cell phone, and walk past the computer or hand-held device without checking for messages.
Take a break and increase your productivity and creativity!
Wishing you low stress and great success.
Eliz Greene works busy people to improve heart health, so they can work well, feel better, and stress less.
She is a heart attack survivor and the author of the Busy Woman’s Guide to a Healthy Heart as well as 3 other books on wellness. She writes one of the top 50 health and wellness blogs and is a sought-after wellness & stress management speaker.
If you are planning a women’s wellness program, workplace wellness program or programs for healthcare professionals check out EmbraceYourHeart.com to see if Eliz would be a good fit with your organization.