The innovation of the digital world and all it can do to connect us to each other locally and globally is truly awe-inspiring. On the other hand, it has also created a major distraction, and inability to focus in the workplace. In today’s modern world, our minds are overwhelmed by a multitude of sensory input. Computers and smartphones are constantly delivering media messages which increasingly infiltrate our thoughts. We get caught up with so many things to check, scroll through, and keep updated on, for work purposes, and also to know what’s trending. There’s also fomo (fear of missing out) on what others are up to in reality, even though it’s all being posted virtually. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, email, texts, Whatsapp messages, and not to mention the news, podcasts, livestreams, and the bombardment of ads strive to keep audiences engaged. Most of the time all this does is leave people feeling empty, and wondering where all their time went without any productivity.
The reason why this technological addiction occurs is because of a chemical in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger that helps control the brain’s reward and pleasure centers. The anticipation of a text message for example, triggers a surge in dopamine, which causes the brain to send the message of feeling good, mostly because it’s unexpected. This is what happens when you get a notification, a message, a new email etc. The stimulation provokes excitement in the form of a dopamine spike that eventually becomes addictive, and causes people to continue to seek out this pleasure, every single time something pops up. Basically, our ability to focus is being undermined by bursts of information. These bursts cause increases in levels of cortisol and feelings of stress. Technology has rewired our brains, and the lure of digital stimulation is similar to that of drug and alcohol addiction – maybe even worse.
There is no doubt that our lives will become more and more complex in the future. However, the key is to stay grounded and energized while embracing the magnificence of innovation. In order to balance all of this digital stimulation, and to relax the mind and escape fight-or-flight sympathetic mode, here are some easy ways to bring presence back into your day, and turn your office into a calm and collected zen zone. Just taking baby steps by introducing one or some or all of these practices can make a huge difference in the way you feel.
Meditation and Breathwork: Many people don’t know where to begin with meditation, or think that their mind is too busy to meditate, but one of the simplest and easiest ways to start is by taking three deep belly breaths everyday. It will take ten seconds and can be done anywhere. I suggest you do this as soon as you wake up, as it can help to set the tone for the day. All you have to do is inhale and bring your breath all the way down to expand your tummy. Filling up the lungs with fresh clean air always feels good, and sends a message to the brain to relax. You can add an intention simply by thinking of a word or feeling you would like to experience throughout the course of your day.
Another powerful way is to connect to your heart in order to get out of your overanalyzing head. It’s very simple, just place one or both of your hands over your heart, close your eyes and simply
feel for your heartbeat. Taking a moment to plug back into your inherent rhythm is imperative to feeling solace and connection to yourself.
Gentle Yoga Stretches: You don’t have to be flexible to incorporate yoga into your day. Yoga is union of the breath and body. In order to calm down from high stress or anxiety, an easy and effective method is to simply hinge at the hips like when you bend to touch your toes in a pose called forward fold. Allow your arms and head to hang like a rag doll and let the spine decompress. This is a great way to activate the parasympathetic system which signals to the brain that it is ok to relax, rest and digest.
Change Your Scenery: In order to clear your headspace and get a change of environment, take your breaks outside of the office. Make sure to have your lunch away from your desk and perhaps arrange to meet up with a friend so you can be present and have good company while enjoying your food. Taking a daily walk can do wonders, not just physically but also mentally by giving you a nice break to enjoy being in nature.
Take Regular Tech Breaks: Place your phone on silent mode and only check messages at a designated time, for example on the hour, instead of every single time you get a notification. Set a timer for completing a task, and work solely on that one task for the allotted time. Being laser focused and strategic with the items on your to-do list can be super satisfying as well as being highly efficient.
Practice Gratitude: One of the best ways to circumvent all the office politics and the constant comparisons that social media emanates is to note what you are thankful for. When you start to appreciate all the little things in life that are going well, you begin to feel joy and a deep sense of calm. Being kind to yourself and acknowledging what you are good at is also very important to contentment. Doing this naturally creates a zen vibe and an atmosphere of mindfulness everywhere you go.