I will not use my mobile phone whilst driving.

I’ve made a decision this week to never use my mobile phone while driving.

Yes, I confess, I’ve done it before – and if you asked my children I was ‘arrested’ – for the record, I wasn’t, but I may have received a sizeable fine and a little bit of a damaged ego – but that’s a story for another day!

You see, the reason for my decision and declaration as above is that I’ve been doing a great online (and free might, I add) course about Mindfulness and Peak Performance.  To tell the truth, whilst I’m a little behind, I’m actually loving it.  One of the notions we have been learning about the attentional blink and that effective multi tasking isn’t really even a thing, nor is it a way to be more productive.

In fact, complex multi-tasking sees increased errors, missed information and increased stress levels, which all, in turn activate the part of the brain which sets off the stress response. Like, walking and talking is an act of simple multitasking, but driving a car and using your mobile phone is an example of complex multi-tasking.

You know, multi-tasking is actually a ‘misnomer’ – it is not possible for our brains to process two tasks/activities at the same time- so while we think we are doing two things effectively at one time – WE’RE NOT – sorry ladies!

When our focus is on one task, not only is it not on the other task, there is also time lost on the time it takes to switch between tasks.

This time is called the attentional blink – so when previously I was talking on my phone and driving my car – neither was getting my focused attention – so I’m here telling you, I’m making the change – and if you ever catch me – feel free to call me out!

Another point to note is that the more stressed we are, the longer this ‘blink’ is – it makes me wonder about those people who work with two computer screens – I would absolutely question if they believe this makes them more productive??  And if they do think they are more productive, are they really?

Efficient attention switching on the other hand is a learned skill and one that I see is necessary in our modern world.  It sees intense focus on one task at a time, which decreases stress and increases productivity. Easier said than done, I know, but with practice, definitely an incredibly valuable skill to have in your repetoire`.

One way to learn this is through practicing mindfulness frequently, so when you actually need the skill, your mind knows what to do.  They used a good example in the course about learning to swim – you don’t wait until you are the man overboard before you learn how to swim – you diligently went to the lessons and learned the skill as a preventative measure – mindfulness practice, therefore, is a preventative measure for good physical and emotional health.

So…. what simple actions can you do today that will help you be more mindful?

  • Try catching yourself out and becoming more aware of your thoughts.
  • Do one task at a time – I’ve got to say this is harder than it sounds.  Keep practicing bringing your attention back to the task at hand.
  • Practice self-compassion when you catch your mind wandering off – just be gentle to yourself as you bring your attention back.

Remember becoming more mindful is a process to be practiced and that small daily actions are what become helpful habits.

I love sharing this information, the more I know about it, the more I believe mindfulness has such a place in this modern world we live in!

So, I’ve committed to not using my phone while I’m driving, and I’m working on some other simple, more mindful actions, what will you commit to?

 

Featured Image:

Image ID : 9113681
Image Type : Stock Vector
Copyright : John Takai

 

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#WOD2016

Nope, this isn’t a CrossFit post, WOD isn’t referring to the Workout of the Day, but instead an issue that deserves our attention – October 20th is World Osteoporosis Day(WOD).

The reason we have an annual WOD is to raise awareness and take early action to look after our bones and muscles.

Osteoporosis is thought of as being a disease of older people, however, often the risk factors are present earlier in life. It has been referred to as a silent disease and this is why knowing what the risk factors are can help us to be proactive.

Osteoporosis is more common in females and your risk also increases if you have a direct relative with an osteoporotic fracture.  There are also some conditions, medications and ways of eating that can affect bone density.  That said, there is a simple test that can be done to see if you are affected.

Again, its about knowing your risk factors and doing what you can to protect your health.

I’ve talked about this notion before – know your risk (in this case for Osteoporosis) and take appropriate action – knowledge is power!!

Even before you trip off to the GP, there are 5 steps you can take to healthy bones and to be free of fractures (except for accidents – we can’t stop those!)

As according to http://www.worldosteoporosisday.org this is the action you can take:

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The 5 steps to healthy bones and a fracture-free future:

1. Exercise regularly

Weight-bearing, muscle-strengthening and balance-training exercises are best.

2. Ensure a diet rich in bone-healthy nutrients

Calcium, vitamin D and protein are the most important for bone health. Safe exposure to sunshine will help you get enough vitamin D.

3. Avoid negative lifestyle habits

Maintain a healthy body weight, avoid smoking and excessive drinking.

4. Find out whether you have risk factors

and bring these to your doctor’s attention, especially if you’ve had a previous fracture or have specific diseases and medications that affect bone health.

5. Get tested and treated if needed

If you’re at high risk you will likely need medication to ensure optimal protection against fracture.

For more information on each of these steps click here.

 

Have you got risk factors? Talk to your doctor, ask for testing.

If you are over the age of 50 and you have one or more risk factors you should discuss these with your doctor and ask for an assessment of your bone health status. Lifestyle changes may be recommended and, for those at high risk, medication may be prescribed for optimal protection against fractures.

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So, on Thursday, for WOD – ask yourself many of the 5 steps you can ‘tick off’ and take on the responsibility to #loveyourbones !!

 

Celebrating Rural Women

There a two topics I’d like to briefly touch on this week are Mental Health Week and the International Day of Rural Women.

Firstly and briefly, its Mental Health Week – I talked about this very important topic in last week’s blog and encouraged people to actually ‘do’ something towards improving their mental health – you can read it here https://wordpress.com/post/wellnessassistblog.wordpress.com/3425

You know, actions are what often set people apart – what do your actions say about you – are they actions that actually improve your mental health?

Whilst this blogs chosen topics seem to be miles apart – I think they can be linked in one word – Resilience.

As I have cited before, resilience is about navigating and negotiating available resources in a particular context…. so, then, rural women are the epitomy of resilience.  They might not have access to some of the support and tools that their city counterparts do, but they sure know how to make a such a incredible and valuable contribution to themselves, their families and their rural and regional communities.

Rural women play a vital role in every part of rural communities.  They know adversity, sacrifice and hard work but also comradery, support and leadership.

I’ve consider myself fortunate to have witnessed these qualities firsthand, and believe that the massive contribution that rural women make should absolutely be celebrated!

So, this Saturday (or at least this week), how about you make it your mission to talk to a rural woman?  Ask them about what they do each day and how they have the courage and strength to ‘walk the walk’ of rural life each and every day.

Here’s to our Rural Women!

PS – How good does that green grass look in the image?!  There is just something about green grass that makes my heart sing!!

Featured Image:  Photo credit: Yours Truly

What will you ‘do’?

I believe mental health week is an important time to raise awareness of important issues including depression and anxiety – but it also annoys me a little bit that we need a dedicate a week to a topic that should be part of what we do in our everyday existence.

The theme of next week’s mental health week celebrations is ‘Value Mental Health’ – I wholeheartedly agree that we not only need to value mental health but cultivate it.

Mental and physical health are so intimately related that it is impossible, and I’d say almost reckless, to imply that there is a clear line where one finishes and the other starts.

So, we know that to be physically fit, we need undertake certain activities, ie. eating good food, drinking (water), sleeping well and exercising regularly to name a few.  We could say we do these things, but ultimately, we actually need to ‘do’ them to stay physically healthy, we can’t just say we have!  Mental fitness is no different, we need to complete certain practices to cultivate being mentally well. Again, you can say you are grateful and kind to yourself – but unless you truly are, you aren’t helping yourself!!

I was reading an article this week about activities we can ‘do’ to improve our mental health (not just during Mental Health Week but all year around!) – you can read the whole article at http://theweek.com/articles/601157/neuroscience-reveals-4-rituals-that-make-happy , or I have summarised the dot points below – here they are:

  • Ask yourself ‘What am I grateful for? – turns out that even if you can’t think of anything, it is the searching that helps to have an antidepressant effect on the brain.
  • Label negative feelings – simply giving the feelings a name has been proven to decrease the impact that the emotions have on our state.
  • Make that decision – It’s no coincidence that you feel a sigh of relief once you have made a decision, no matter how small it may seem.
  • Touch people – not in a creepy way, but research has shown that physical touch increases happiness, eg. application of this tip needs permission, but might include such things as a hug or pat on back or holding hands.  See? Not too hard!

So while we need to ‘talk the talk’ and value mental health,  we actually have to practice ‘walking the walk’ too!!  So, this mental health week, how many of these four tips, or what else can you ‘do’ to improve your own state?

 

Featured Image:  Photo via <a href=”https://visualhunt.com/”>Visualhunt.com</a&gt;