Mindfulness

  • Why Multitasking Can Hinder Living in the Moment and Achieving Peace of Mind

    Humans can truly only focus on one thing at a time. While this is both a blessing and curse, scientists are still unsure of why this happens exactly. Yes, some people would like to be able to multitask better than they are currently able but this might not always provide the desired benefits. Studies, like from Psychology Today, have shown that multitasking causes stress and makes your mind less effective. The more divided and distracted the mind is, the more likely it will get stuck or go off track.

    Now imagine a dog chasing after balls that are being thrown in three different directions. She goes a few steps in one direction, then runs three more steps elsewhere before turning around to go back for the first ball again. In this analogy, you can think of the dog as your mind and the balls as thoughts or distractions. Your ability to focus on a task is reduced the more constantly you shift your attention.

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    Needless Worry

    But that’s not the whole story. Worrying about non-present events falls into the category of micro thinking, and can actually drain your mental and emotional resources. It is not worth the time and effort, so it may be best to avoid the conflict of multitasking that cannot be won. Others might argue that if they can’t use their conscious mind to multitask, then why not employ the power of the subconscious instead? While it may not be obvious, people rely on their subconscious more than they realize. Remember: It’s one of our most powerful tools.

    When answering a question about a past event, people don’t usually have to consciously search through every minute of the past. Instead, the subconscious mind takes over and provides your answer before you’re consciously aware of it—much faster than a conscious search would take. Memorizing facts and actions requires a lot of energy. It doesn’t just take up space in the brain, it also takes a toll on emotions.

    The Mind

    The conscious mind is like the user interface of a computer because it can be manipulated with touch, whereas the subconscious resembles the processor. As automated as your subconscious is, it still needs to obey certain orders. The more complicated the order or task, the more likely it will lock up and freeze.

    For example, after a fight with your significant other, it can be hard to focus on work or sleep. This happens because your subconscious mind continues to think about the past event, sometimes even more so than during the time it happened. The emotional response of your brain then takes up all of your brain’s processing capacity and colors every other thought you have.

    In addition to the present, future time is important too. However, there is a glaring caveat to this statement that needs to be added. While it is important to think about the future, we should really only ever contemplate it on rare occasions. It’s not something we should spend much time thinking about, because just like the past, our future cannot be changed by thinking about it. But what we do in the moment will change it.

    The Future

    One of the worst things you can do when stressed is to think about what could go wrong in the future as the future is out of our control. We only have now. And what we do now, impacts the future. Furthermore, if you break your tasks and challenges into smaller chunks, it will be easier for your mind to deal with them and not just see the larger ones as more stressful. This is a great way to cure procrastination.

    The Zone

    When we focus on one task, even for a short period of time, it has a therapeutic effect. Every single person is probably familiar with the feeling of being so absorbed in an activity that they forget temporarily about everything else. They’re in the zone. This state of “zone” emphasizes maximal attention and enjoyment or pain, depending on the nature of the activity.

    The body uses this principle to reduce pain. When an individual suffers from a cut, burn, or another painful injury, the pain can be reduced by massaging the area around the wound. By causing the nerves to send pulses to the spine region, doctors can often lessen the feeling of pain from injured areas. The psychological effect in the brain is similar. By engaging in what’s going on right now, we can block out other thoughts that might cause us stress.

    Diversions

    The sensation of “diversion”—in some languages, a synonym for “fun”—is the soul of finding peace through focusing on the present moment and not anything else that might cause you stress. The activity does not need to be pleasurable. A simple, mundane task like scrubbing the bathtub will work just as well. Many people find activities like gardening, jogging, sports, or painting therapeutic. Even engaging in their work without any pressure can make them more relaxed. Instead of engaging your physical senses, meditation uses conscious thought.

    Regardless of the method or activity you choose, diversion tactics can be a singularly effective way to live in the moment and achieving peace of mind.

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  • Four Major Mental Health Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness

    Are you wondering what mindfulness is? Perhaps you already know and want some reasons why this would be a beneficial lifestyle change. While mindfulness is often associated with meditation, you don’t have to mediate to be more mindful. Today I’m going to share more about mindfulness and the benefits of this practice.

    What Exactly is Mindfulness?

    Mindfulness is the art in which we learn to pay attention to our feelings and thoughts. Practicing mindfulness comes with acceptance, not judgment, of what you’re thinking and feeling during any given situation. You’ll evaluate what you’re feeling and thinking as a means to be more aware of what works best and doesn’t work best for you in life. You’ll use this information to start being more aware of how you respond and act in all areas of life.

    The Benefits of Practicing Mindfulness
    Boosts Working Memory

    Since mindfulness is an art that makes you more aware of how your feeling and what you’re thinking, your working memory improves. You’ll be forcing your brain to work during your daily interactions as a means to become more self-aware of your thoughts and feelings. When you increase your brain usage, your working memory starts to improve.

    Reduces Stress & Anxiety

    When you become more aware of how you’re feeling and what you’re thinking, there’s a sense of calm that overcomes you. Mindfulness is more about acceptance and awareness than judgment. You’ll start to reduce stress and anxiety because you’ll learn to embrace how you’re feeling and thinking as opposed to analyzing or criticizing it.

    Improves Focus

    As you continue practicing mindfulness regularly, you’ll find that you have improved focus in all areas of life. You’re using your mind to focus on how you’re feeling and thinking, therefore it’s a similar activity to help increase your concentration skills. When you become more aware of your thoughts, you’re better able to clear your mind to have more brain power for focus in other areas of life.

    Reduced Emotional Reactions

    Lastly, another benefit of mindfulness is that it reduces the risk of you reacting emotionally to any given situation. When you start practicing mindfulness, you’ll be able to pause before speaking. This practice enables you to respond to situations as opposed to react to them. Being able to reduce emotional reactions is a fabulous way to increase your ability to effectively communicate with anyone.

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    These are just some of the major benefits of practicing mindfulness that you’ll experience. Mindfulness will take a lot of effort and focus at first, but in time this practice will come quite naturally to you. You’ll begin to feel lower stress levels, fewer anxiety attacks, and in turn, live a happier life when you make the commitment to practice mindfulness.