By Miranda Massie on July 16, 2019
Over the past few weeks, a number of friends and colleagues have shared news articles, stories and recommendations with me, all related to time and technology. Perhaps there are new research results circulating, or maybe summer activities are inspiring folks to think more about how they spend their time. No matter the reason, these topics have been floating around in my head.
A fine line exists between supportive technology and digital overload. Programs and apps are constantly emerging, most designed to theoretically make our lives easier and enable us to do more with the time we have. And yet, we know our devices can leave us feeling lonely, overwhelmed and disconnected. So is technology making us more efficient or creating further distance between us and those around us — and potentially even distancing us from our true selves?
This month, I’m sharing suggestions — both digital and human-centred — for bringing more awareness to our use of technology.
The above actions will help you:
- Relax your eyes, neck and wrists
- Increase feelings of closeness and connection through social time with others
- Create space for increased mindfulness, less multi-tasking, and a greater attention span
This summer, I encourage you to try using “smart technology” more intelligently. Focus on connecting with yourself and your communities in ways that will support and rejuvenate you for the busy fall months ahead.
Signing off until September!
All my best,
By Miranda Massie on August 7, 2018
Guest contribution from Wendy Quan
Do you habitually check your email or social media messages? After all, the messages we receive are entertaining and may also make you feel important. But when does this habitual checking become disruptive to your life, productivity or focus?
Speaking from past experience, I remember when at the end of most work days, I didn’t know where my time had gone. I knew I was sitting at my computer a lot, but what did I have to show for it? My to-do list certainly wasn’t getting done.
Once I came to this painful realization, I put my mindfulness knowledge into action. I immediately noticed a boost in my productivity and my ability to stay focused on what was important throughout my day. Here’s how you can create this same awareness.
Notice the urge. Make a choice.
Mindfulness teaches you to be more aware of your thoughts and even cravings. When you get that urge to check your messages just because you feel like checking them, pause and observe that urge. This takes only a second or two. Recognize that urge and make a choice. Do you honestly need to check, or would you rather stay focused and productive?
Notice derailment. Make a choice.
When you do decide to check your messages, you may feel an immediate urge to act on your messages. Before you know it, you’ve spent 10 minutes composing a response that wasn’t even urgent. You’ve even forgotten what you intended to work on before you checked your messages – you’ve been derailed!
As you read your messages, take a moment to mindfully notice your urge to act on it now. Make a conscious choice as to whether acting on it now or later is the right thing to do.
Practice checking your urges and you will likely enjoy the freedom from this habit and see an improvement in your productivity.
Wendy Quan is an industry leader in helping organizations implement self-sustaining mindfulness meditation programs to create change resiliency. She is the founder of The Calm Monkey, the first and only online and in-person training and certification of its kind, which turns experienced meditators into Mindfulness Meditation Facilitators in the workplace and community.
Wendy is a certified organizational change manager who has been recognized as a pioneer by the Greater Good Science Center of the University of California, Berkeley and the global Association of Change Management Professionals and the Chartered Professionals in Human Resources. Her client list includes individuals from around the world and organizations such as Google and the government of Dubai. Her life’s purpose is to help people create a better experience of life.
By Miranda Massie on October 25, 2017
Fitting in time for our physical fitness is important, but sometimes we can forget one of the biggest and most important muscles in our body: the mind. This month, in honour of UBC Thrive, we offer tips and suggestions for keeping your brain fit, as well as your body.
Week 1: Listen away your stress
Sound therapists and researchers have created a custom eight-minute piece of music specifically designed to reduce stress and anxiety by lowering heart rate, blood pressure and the stress hormone known as cortisol. Listen here:
Visit one of the many thriving spaces and places on UBC’s Vancouver campus. Examples include Fairview Square, Wreck Beach and the Museum of Anthropology. You can also check out these additional hidden gems you may not have heard about.
Week 3: Increase neural pathways
Activities that engage both hemispheres of the brain help promote new and existing neural pathways. Follow along and try this Ear and Nose Brain Break or watch it below:
Week 4: Digital detox
Whether it’s for five minutes at the dinner table or a whole day, taking time away from electronic devices is key to keeping our brains happy. Try the Greatist.com’s 7-Day Digital Detox for Real People or discover their free tools to save your eyes from digital eye strain.
Interested in learning more? Read Scientific American’s “Why Your Brain Needs More Downtime
Photo credit: Tirthankar Gupta (Flickr)
Posted in Fitting In Fitness, Mental Health | Tagged arts, brain break, brain training, digital detox, fitting in fitness, mental fitness, music, neuroscience, pathways, spaces, technology | Leave a response
By Guest Contributor on April 8, 2015
Guest contribution by Dr. Thara Vayali
A digital detox does not mean that we need to block out all media. Rather, it means to be mindful of how we use digital technology. There is a way to use media to nourish, rather than retreat from ourselves.
We live in a world of constant virtual contact. In Canada, screen time has rapidly increased over the decade. As adults, much of these hours are now in the working world. Screen light, combined with indoor lifestyles and sedentary behaviours, have their own impacts on health and wellbeing. These factors and their impacts can be difficult to modify – but there is one specific behaviour within our screen time that we can become more mindful of: Leisure Screen Time. When most of our leisure time is spent passively consuming media, we can block our creativity.
In terms of mindfulness, it’s not the leisure that’s the problem. It’s the fact that most of our leisure time is now spent scanning and consuming. This passive consumptive habit nudges the creative and mindful hours out of our lives. It is insidious, not intentional, and is true for all types of entertainment, not just those that are technology based. With access to technology literally at our fingertips, we have left no room for our brains to digest what we’ve consumed; we have no time be inspired to create something of our own. We are too busy watching each other.
Computers, the internet and digital technologies have become a wonderful educational resource, group support, creative muse, meta-database and tool for social and political change. We have symbiotically evolved be more technologically inclined, and our desire to connect and create has only been highlighted by these advances. Not many of us would willingly eschew our access to these grand collaborative products. But, how we use these tools influences our health and wellness.
Previous to the explosion of hand-held device technology, times of consumption were buffered by boredom during the in-between times. Boredom is the breeding ground for imagination, creativity, play and inspiration. It is an efficient muse. On the road to feeling creative, we do not need to DO anything, we in fact, need to do nothing. There is beauty in boredom.
Passive consumption is not an efficient muse. It is a filler.
It is possible for our passive consumption to be balanced with our creative capacity – we can scan media, and subsequently borrow, create or discuss ideas for ourselves. But be aware that the more you pin, follow, like, comment and share, the less you create.
We have inadvertently closed the creative window and instead dominated our time with continuous consumption. This bystander perspective (or “rubber-necking”) squashes our confidence and motivation to create, even when our intention of consuming was to be inspired.
Comparison is the thief of joy – Theodore Roosevelt.
Shall I suggest in the same light, that consumption is the thief of creativity?
The concept of a Digital Detox (turning off all devices for one day, or a few hours every day) has been growing in popular culture. It seems to be an effective way to manage the addiction to media and to interact with the neurotransmitter dopamine, wisely.
For bringing creativity back, I suggest a variation. It’s the Creation:Consumption ratio.
For one day a week, (perhaps on the weekend, or a day when you have time for yourself) decide that anything you consume for leisure must be matched with an equal time in creation. That could be online, on a computer, in the kitchen or home or outside – but the key is you are USING your consumption time to inspire you to create something new to you.
Aim for a 50/50 split in your leisure time.
This is a tool to use your time differently than your habitual go-to. Whether you have eight 8 hours or one hour, put a timer on yourself. Max out your media consumption to no more than half of that time. Keep the ratio even: 50% goes to watching, listening, scanning, tasting, and 50% goes to “being bored” and making. This means that some of your creative time may feel uncomfortable. It can take time and space before you feel creative. Stick with it!
Particularly as adults, we have lost the experience and benefits of doing nothing. We have come to think that the only way to do nothing, is to be exhausted. We can relearn how to bumble in boredom, to allow our self-directed motivation take over.
If your creativity time extends beyond 50%, I’d say keep going!
Before using the creation:consumption ratio, reflect on what creativity is NOT:
- not work
- not chores
- not for praise
- not for others
- not for exercise
It is specifically imagining, experimenting, building, making, creating. Simple as that.
If you notice that your creation:consumption ratio consistently weighs toward consumption, your passion, motivation and confidence likely have a harder time piping up to create. If you schedule time to be creative, the time you spend consuming becomes distinctly more engaging. You will begin to identify boredom as separate from exhaustion, and appreciate that doing nothing could be a route into a more passionate and creative life.
Dr. Thara Vayali is a Naturopathic Doctor & Yoga Teacher in Vancouver and is also a UBC alumnus. She is obsessed with intestinal and immune health, hormones, and pain-free bodies. She is the creator of Change Natural Medicine: Budget conscious, membership-based health consulting.
Posted in A Thoughtful Mind, Guest Contributor, Mental Health, Miranda Massie, Spot Light | Tagged boredom, creativity, digital detox, doing nothing, Dr. Thara Vayali, mental health, Mindfulness, screen time, technology | 2 Responses