The Surgeon General named loneliness as the #1 medical problem in the country. We live in a world characterized by what I call “the modern paradox”: miraculously connected electronically, we are growing disconnected interpersonally. This social isolation is as dangerous a risk factor for early death as cigarette-smoking, high blood pressure, and obesity. In this VIDEO, I discuss harnessing the power of “the other Vitamin C, Vitamin Connect.”
While we are far more connected electronically than ever before, we are missing the “human moment.” We’re texting instead of talking. We’re glued to our phones while out with friends (take a look at the photo – that’s what social disconnection looks like.)
Maybe you feel powerless; you think disconnection is a sign of the times. I’m here to tell you that it’s a problem we can solve. It’s in your power to live a life rich in human connection. I’m not just talking about person to person. You can connect by joining a club, team, connecting with your neighbors, having a pet or a hobby. Join me and find out how to add Vitamin Connect to your daily life.
Learn more about CONNECT: 12 Vital Ties that Open Your Heart, Lengthen Your Life, and Deepen Your Soul
How many times have you found yourself sitting in a meeting, yawning, pinching yourself or grinding your teeth? How many days have you gone to the coffee machine multiple times, begging the caffeine to create some energy and get you out of this rut at work? Most people wake up, maybe grab some breakfast or at least a shot of caffeine, go to work, and assume they can stay consistently focused without taking any steps specifically designed to replenish and maintain their energy at work throughout the day.
If you’re having difficulty staying focused and feeling stuck at work, you can follow the 6 tips below, adapted from Dr. Hallowell’s book:
Driven to Distraction at Work
His book was recommended in “8 books to Read When You’re Stuck in a Rut at Work“
The Sensational Six*
Prep works relies on “the sensational six.” Do the things recommended below and your brain will give you much more time in flexible focus if you prepare it every day by following each of these practices so you’ll spend less time in a “rut” and be more productive.
- Sleep – one of the greatest favors you can do for your brain and your entire body is to get enough sleep. Sleep is tonic. Reset your priorities to make time for sleep. Set a regular bedtime and get-up time. Do make sure you have comfortable bedding. Reserve your bed for sleep; not work – don’t bring your screens into the bedroom.
- Nutrition – when you don’t eat right, your brain can’t function well. Eat a breakfast with protein. Eat a balanced lunch. Use a fruit snack and a burst of exercise to combat the blahs. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables to feed your brain the micronutrients it needs. Watch the amount of coffee you drink.
- Exercise is beyond doubt one of the best tonics available for your brain. You can start by walking every day with a friend; schedule time each week to play a game of some sort; i.e., golf, squash or tennis; or join a gym.
- Mediation can lower stress levels and blood pressure, increase energy and cognitive function, and make you calmer and happier. You can start by sitting in a comfortable chair, both feet on the floor and both hands comfortably placed on your lap. Close your eyes and focus on your breathing. In, out. Watch your thoughts float by like leaves on a river. Try not to evaluate your thoughts, but rather let them pass by without a comment or a care. You can meditate for just a 5 minutes or more. Try to meditate daily and it will help you focus better.
- Mental Stimulation – When you stretch your brain by trying new tasks or doing everyday tasks in a way you’ve never done them before, you are doing something that will not only enhance your ability to maintain focus, but also help stave off the ravages of aging, include dementia.
- Connection – The human connection is the most powerful force in the world for growth, health, fulfillment, and joy. I call connection “the other vitamin C” or “vitamin connect.” You can get tips on ways to connect here.
While a healthy level of worry can help us perform efficiently at work, anticipate dangers, and learn from past errors, excessive worry can make an otherwise sane person seem crazy, devoid of sound judgment, peace of mind and happiness. So how do you curb the anxiety associated with stress and toxic worry?
First, it helps to understand what I call the basic equation of worry. This is a good way to conceptualize where toxic worry comes from:
Heightened Vulnerability + Lack of Control = Toxic Worry.
The more vulnerable you feel (regardless of how vulnerable you are) and the less control you feel you have (regardless of how much control you actually have), the more toxic your worrying will become. Therefore, any steps you can take to reduce your feelings of vulnerability and/or increase your feelings of control will serve to reduce your feelings of toxic worry.
But how do you stay out of the paralyzing grip of toxic worry? If you’re walking through a minefield, how do you not feel so afraid that you can’t take another step? You need a plan. When you have a plan, you can turn to the plan for guidance, which immediately makes you feel as if you are less vulnerable and more in control whether you are or not. So whether the danger you perceive stems from the poor economy, a concern about your children, or a mole on your forearm that you think might be melanoma, you need a method to keep your fear from running wild so you can systematically dismantle the problem and take control.
10 Tips for Controlling Worry
- Never worry alone. When you are alone, toxic worry intensifies. So talk to someone you trust – a friend, your spouse, a colleague, a relative. You often find solutions to a problem when you talk it out with someone. The mere fact of putting it into words takes it out of the threatening realm of the imagination and puts it into some concrete, manageable form.
- All worry is not bad. Identify all the things you worry about and separate out the toxic to your health worries from good worry. Good worry amounts to planning and problem solving. Toxic worry is unnecessary, repetitive, unproductive, paralyzing, and life-defeating.
- Get plenty of vigorous exercise. Exercise is an anti anxiety agent and reduces the accumulated noise and helps relax you.
- Repeat the mantra “I’ll fix what I can and, then I’ll put the rest out of my mind,” when you feel anxious thoughts emerging.
- Add structure to your life where you need it. Often disorganization, poor time management creates anxiety. To help get you on track and calm your stress, consider hiring an organization coach. BLUBERYL.org empowers individuals to identify, organized and master their organization skills. The National Association of Professional Organizers is another resource for finding coaches.
- Reality – test your worry. Regain perspective. Share your worries with someone who should know if what you are worrying about makes sense or if you have exaggerated it. So many of our problems are the result of overactive imaginations.
- Use humor. Make friends with amusing people, watch a Marx brothers movie, tune into Comedy Central or a humorous sit-com. Humor restores perspective; toxic worry almost always entails a loss of perspective.
- Get plenty of sleep. One good way to fall asleep naturally is to focus on counting your breaths. Inhale on 2-3 counts and exhale on 5-6 counts. This relaxes you and gives you something neutral to think about.
- Avoid watching too much TV or reading too many newspapers and magazines.
- Get regular doses of positive human contact (connect – the other vitamin C.) Avoid doses of negative human contact. In other words, try, as much as you can, to be around people who are good to you and not be around people who are not.
Learn how the Hallowell Center Can Help You.
Listen to Dr. Hallowell’s Podcast discussion on Worry.
For a dose of optimism, listen to Dr. Hallowell’s Podcast on “If You Believe It, You Can Do It!”
Adapted from: Worry: Hope and Help for a Common Condition
Edward M.Hallowell, MD, Ballentine, 1997