Curbing Your Cell Phone Addition

One of the biggest drains on time and mental energy in modern life is what I call “screen sucking,” mindlessly sending and receiving emails, texting, surfing the net or checking your cell phone or any number of devices while walking, driving, or brushing your teeth. Sound familiar?
Take a few minutes now and ask yourself, “How much time do I spend on my phone each day?” How much time does that add up to in a week? Is this how I want to live my life?
If you want to stop technology from draining the life out of you so you can start enjoying the human moment and more, try implementing the 3 tips below:
Step #1  SET A GOAL. How much total time should be spent each day on electronics. Then break the total goal into time categories: how much time where, doing what, with whom.
Step #2 PLAN DAILY PERIODS OF ABSTINENCE. These “brain breaks” provide intervals of time in which no electronic device may be turned on. Yes, this will be difficult for you at first. So try beginning with 10 minutes twice a day. Then increase that time by 10 minutes a week until you reach 1 hour a day or goal you all want to achieve. Go one step further, plan a “de-tox” day over the weekend.
Step # 3 Replenish daily your dose of the other Vitamin C, Vitamin Connect. Overuse of electronics depletes one’s store of the human connection. Spend time having a face-to-face conversation with people, uninterrupted by anything. Try banning electronics when you’re out with friends or during dinner.
Want more tips on managing technology,  listen to my Distraction mini 45 “Your  Annual Screen Sucking Self Exam.”

Time is Precious

Sages through the ages have cautioned us to Seize the Day. And yet we don’t.

Time… rolls unnoticed.
We spend it.
We waste it.
We even kill it.
Time is a finite resource, but we behave as if it were infinite because, at the deepest level, we deny the fact of death in our everyday lives.
Only a fool… or a person too busy to think….will not do what it takes to live life to its fullest while he can.
Are you doing what matters most to you? Take an inventory today on how you spend your time and try to get the best return on your investment. 

3 Tips to managing your time:

  1. Do what matters most to you:  One way to wrestle back control is to take a hard look at our priorities and decide what matters.” Don’t spread yourself too thin – you must choose, you must prioritize.
  2. Learn to say, “No thank you.” Be careful not to overcommit.
  3. Slow down: Stop, think and ask  yourself, what’s your hurry?  Why wake up, already impatient, and rush around and try to squeeze in more things than you should, thereby leading you to do all of it less well?  Your hurry is your enemy.

Dr. Hallowell explains how to Curtail, Delegate and Eliminate.

Dr. Hallowell on ‘Take Your Pills’ Netflix Documentary

Dr. Hallowell shares his thoughts in this VIDEO on how this well meaning documentary meant to alert you to the dangers of stimulant medications used to treat ADHD misses the mark. It doesn’t include any perspective on what medications can do when they’re prescribed and used properly.

While one should be aware of the dangers of medications, they should also be informed that when medications are monitored and taken properly, they can be remarkably effective.

If you’d like to learn more information about medication to treat ADHD, consult with your doctor.
OTHER RESOURCES:
If you’re unable to watch the video, LISTEN to Dr. Hallowell’s mini podcast on why the Netflix Documentary ‘Take Your Pills’ misses the mark.

The Real Danger of Digital Addiction

The Brain Equivalent of Global Warming The Real Danger of Digital Addiction by Dr. Hallowell / Psychology Today

Nobody’s proven that digital addiction rots your brain.  Nobody’s proven that gaming 18 hours a day is bad for you; that texting 14 hours a day harms you in any way; that spending 16 hours in front of a screen per day is in any way toxic; that emailing is less healthy than face-to-face communication; that telecommunication sacrifices any zest; as we gradually replace human moments with electronic ones we are losing anything at all. READ MORE.

TIPS FOR DISCONNECTING FROM YOUR DEVICES:

  • DON’T WASTE TIME SCREEN SUCKING (a modern addiction of looking at your iPhone, computer, any type of screen): Break the habit of having to be near your electronic devices at all times by changing your environment or structure.
  • SET A GOAL. How much total time should be spent each day on electronics. Then break the total goal into time categories: how much time where, doing what, with whom.
  • PLAN DAILY PERIODS OF ABSTINENCE. These “brain breaks” provide intervals of time in which no electronic device may be turned on. Yes, this will be difficult for you. So try beginning with 10 minutes twice a day. Then increase that time by 10 minutes a week until you reach 1 hour a day or
    goal you all want to achieve. Then “Turn It Off.”

“Crazy” does not Equate Dangerous

Note from Ned

March 13, 2018

The first person I ever saw actually crazy, as opposed to crazy in the slang meaning of that word, was my own father.  I was a sophomore at Harvard at the time, visiting my dad at the Bedford VA Hospital.  He’d had a manic break after many years of stability on lithium since his original psychosis right after getting out of the Navy at the end of World War II in which he was captain of a destroyer escort.

Since I was visiting him on the grounds of a mental hospital I should have known that odd behavior could be expected, but I had never seen my father be anything but normal.  He was the All American hockey player turned  war hero turned business executive turned school teacher after going crazy.  But as a child I never saw the going crazy part.  I only saw the really kind, really steady, amazingly skilled school teacher that every kid loved, the man who taught Jackie Kennedy and countless other kids how to sail in Hyannisport, the man who had a plaque put up in his memory in the little public school where he taught in Pelham, New Hampshire after he died.

But this day in Bedford, Massachusetts we went out for a walk together.  I’d never been to a mental hospital before.  It actually didn’t look a lot different from Harvard Yard.  Big buildings separated by paved walkways lined by trees.  Dad was wearing a khaki windbreaker on what was a chilly fall afternoon.  We were talking about the course I was taking on Samuel Johnson. Dad seemed interested, when all of a sudden he pulled a rope out of the side pocket of his windbreaker.

“How about if I hang myself with this rope?” he asked me.

I stopped dead in my tracks and stared at him.  His eyes had totally changed.  They were on fire.  He was looking through me.  “That’s a really bad idea,” I said.

“I think this branch will hold me just fine,” Dad said, lobbing the line over the bough.

I grabbed it down and said, “Dad, this is stupid, cut it out.”

He snatched the rope back from me. “Get out of my way.”  He pushed me so hard I fell to the ground.  Out of nowhere, two attendants came rushing over and wrestled my father into submission.  “Ok, ok,” he said.  “I’ll behave.  You don’t need to give me a shot.  I just heard one voice.  It’s gone away.  I can talk to my son now.”

Since that day I’ve conversed with thousands of crazy people, much crazier than my father was on that chilly afternoon.  Over that time I’ve come to love crazy people.  They’ve taught me volumes about human nature, in ways that sane people and books can’t teach.  They show writ large what the rest of us know how to keep hidden.

One of the myths about crazy people is how dangerous they are.  My old teacher, Les Havens, who is now in heaven, used to tell us, “Your average banker is far more dangerous than your average crazy person is.”

  Which is why the stigma that surrounds mental illness—and all mental differences—is so pernicious, ignorant, and cruel.

I hope, during my lifetime, to see it burn off, like a fog, and give way to the sunshine of truth, the bright light of understanding, empathy, and love.

       What can we do to hasten that day?  At the grass roots level, which is where we all live, we can talk about mental differences as being just that—differences—and mental illnesses as being just that—illnesses.  Not curses, not satanic possessions, not marks of Cain, not evidence of bad character of poor parenting or moral turpitude.

        Often the worst part of a mental illness is not the illness itself but the societal shunning that results from it.  Shunning from ignorant people who should know better and will rue the day they turned their backs on such people when mental illness visits one of their family members as, odds are, it will, since mental illness hits 20% of Americans every year.

The two conditions I happen to have—ADHD and dyslexia—have such a tremendous upside I’ve been able to tap into so that, in my own case, I consider them assets, not illnesses at all.  But most people are not so lucky.  Most people need ongoing treatment for these chronic illnesses—depression, substance use disorders, bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders, borderline personality disorder, post traumatic stress disorder, to name some of the more common.

But it is time for them to take their place alongside other chronic illnesses like diabetes, high blood pressure, asthma, congestive heart failure, hyperlipidemia, migraine, and arthritis.

When a person stops taking his high blood pressure meds we do not look at him with scorn, but when a person in treatment for substance use disorder relapses and starts drinking, society looks at him like a bum, only driving him deeper into relapse.  When the depression meds fail, and a person attempts suicide, society often deems that person weak or cowardly, while when the person with chronic congestive heart failure eats a high salt meal and tips into pulmonary edema and must be hospitalized, we send him get well cards.

This is all rooted in centuries-old ignorance, stigma, superstition, religious bugaboos, and flat out nonsense.  Like most such stuff, its manifestations are primitive, cruel, demeaning, and beneath the standards of any civilized person.

Let us join together in bringing such prejudice to an end. Let us restore dignity and compassion to all human suffering.

And let us remember, irony of irony, that unlike most chronic illnesses, chronic mental illnesses are often accompanied by extraordinary gifts: our greatest president, Abraham Lincoln, had major depression; one of our greatest poets, Robert Lowell, had bi-polar disorder; one of our foremost novelists, William Styron suffered from major depression.  The list could go on and on.

   The point is that it is difficult to find a person of enormous creative or entrepreneurial talent who does not have some major challenge that he or she struggled with along the way, be it ADHD or dyslexia, depression, bi-polar disorder, substance use disorder, or anxiety disorder being the most common.

Changing the Stigma and Shame of Mental Illness

Mental illness affected my family. My dad left home when I was 4 years old. I didn’t really know why. Nobody told me what was going on. The fact is that he was in and out of mental hospitals. I didn’t know that though until I was in high school. That’s because stigma and shame so surrounded anything relating to conditions of the mind that people just didn’t talk about it. There were no “Hallmark” cards saying “Hope you get over your latest psychotic break soon.” These conditions were shrouded in shame. Unfortunately, in many instances, they still are.  It’s time for us to bring that to an end.  I invite you to watch my video on:

Changing the Stigma and Shame Associated with Mental Illness. 

Let’s band together to eliminate this stigma and shame. Share your story with me. Thank you.

Read my article on Beating the Odds

MENTAL HEALTH RESOURCES

Click here to learn more about my Memoir: Because I Come From A Crazy Family The Making of A  Psychiatrist.

Can You Handle the Truth? Accounting For Phone Time

by Rebecca Shafir, M.A.CCC Personal Development and Executive Functioning coach at the Hallowell Center MetroWest

Where does the time go? Why can’t I get more done each day? I want to finish my business plan, but other stuff gets in the way.

Do these complaints sound familiar?

If you’re serious about improving your productivity and finding the waste in your day, being accountable for your phone time is a good place to start. Of all the distractions and interruptions we need to control for, smartphones and tablet use rates as Number One!

We typically underestimate the time spent on our phones. As an exercise, I ask my clients to write on a slip of paper how many minutes or hours a day they think they spend on their phones and tablets. Their estimate is sealed in an envelope. Using one of the apps below they track the actual time spent on their phones for one week. After seven days their written estimates are unveiled. The estimates are often off by 50% or more! These apps can also tell you how many times you check your smartphone, what apps you use the most, reminders to take digital breaks and help you set limits on phone and tablet use. You all know that I’m not a big fan of GAGs (Gimmicks, Apps Gadgets) except for the ones that can keep us from over-using them!

The truth can be liberating. If you care about productivity, the truth can also motivate you to make needed changes.

Moment – Screen Time Tracker
A Handy iOS Feature

Also read: Become aware of just how much your use your smartphone!

After the shocking reality hits home, you might take the next step and track your reasons for your excessive phone use. In subsequent blogs, I will address the most common reasons and their solutions.

I’m always glad to get your comments and suggestions for topics. Write to me at rebecca@mindfulcommunication.com

 

 

ADHD and Time

In the world of ADHD, there are only two times:

  • there is NOW, and then
  • there is NOT NOW.

In ADHD, time collapses, making life feel as if everything is happening at once. It’s now or never…or maybe later. This creates panic. One loses perspective and the ability to select what needs to be done first, what needs to be done second, and what can wait until another day.  Instead, you are always on the go, leaping before you look, always trying to keep the world from caving in on top of you.

So how to best manage your time when you have ADHD?

Here are some tips that have helped me get things done:

  • Make deadlines.
  • Prioritize. Avoid procrastination. When things get busy, the adult ADHD person loses perspective: paying an unpaid parking ticket can feel as pressing as putting out the fire that just got started in the wastebasket.  Take a deep breath. Put first things first.
  • Break down large tasks into small ones. Attach deadlines to the small parts. Then, like magic, the large task will get done. This is one of the simplest and most powerful of all structuring devices. Often a large task will feel overwhelming to the person with ADHD. The mere thought of trying to perform the task makes one turn away. On the other hand, if the large task is broken down into small parts, each component may feel quite manageable.

     

    Want to learn more tips on on managing ADHD? You can find tips for adults, parents and teachers  HERE!.

    *Adapted from Delivered from Distraction, Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., John J. Ratey, M.D., Ballantine, 2005