Friday, August 20, 2010

Why Relaxing Is So Hard

This interesting Wall Street Journal article, Why Relaxing is Hard Work, talks about how our plugged in way of life makes it hard to "power down," even on vacations.

I'm hearing about this a lot from my counseling and neurofeedback clients. 24/7 availability to work and, for some, the desire to have a clean inbox - which is now not just the paper inbox but also, of course, the virtual inbox - where is the off switch? (Daily emails have increased from 12 billion in 2000 to 247 billion in 2010!)

One simple tip I tell clients is: Don't answer everything immediately, just to get it off your plate. People who are also trying to get through their inbox will just answer you right away, and then you answer them, and then...

It's also a good idea to limit email to one or two periods of the day. If you're like me, it's tempting to keep checking (and then emptying).

People who really need to have a clean inbox may be suffering from anxiety and attempting to reduce it by getting everything done, an impossible task. Those emails just keep coming! Addressing the anxiety directly may be a better choice with big longterm benefits. On my website you can read the comments of people who have benefited from trying neurofeedback to reduce anxiety, among other things neurofeedback can help with.

The fast pace of work can make it hard to slow down - evenings, weekends, vacations. That makes it important to take at least mini-breaks regularly. Five minutes - even one minute - of focusing on your breath can make a huge difference to your body's ability to shift out of "fight or flight," the state all too many of us are living in these days.

Neurofeedback can also help with this, as it teaches the brain flexibility and resilience, which means more ability to shift states fluidly and to bounce back to a healthy state after a high stress time.

I love email (especially being in more frequent contact with friends at a distance), but I want it and the other ways we're "plugged in" to be a benefit in my life rather than a problem. Staying awake about what's going on is part of the solution.

Catherine Boyer, MA, LCSW
New York Neurofeedback

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