Multi-Tasking Versus Single or “Mindful” Tasking

multi task yoga woman

I used to be so very proud of myself for being such a good multi-tasker and at some levels I still am. It is needed and valuable when the situation fits, but many  times single tasking or “mindful” tasking is better. Our daily hectic life styles make if feel like we have to multi task. Lets take a look at both. And then see how we may integrate these different approaches in our daily, realistic lives.

Definition of Multi-Tasking: Performance of multiple tasks at one time. (Merriam-Webster)  A person’s ability to do more than one thing at a time. (Cambridge Dictionary)

Pros of Multi-Tasking: Ability to getting more done within a time frame. Potentially achieving more with the time you have. It can be a helpful tool if you are in certain emergency situations.

Cons of Multi-Tasking: Not fully being able to focus and give full attention to something or someone. The risk of not doing something well, but only partially doing a task. Errors and mistakes increase the more you are multi-tasking. It can leave you feeling stressed, overwhelmed and not completely connected to the projects or people you are working with. You may find yourselves more blunt and less patient with others as you multi-task. What you do accomplish may not be your best.

mindful animated man with lots thoughts and dog with simple thoughts

Definition of Single or “Mindful” Tasking: Bearing in mind: aware. (Merriam Webster)  Giving attention. (Cambridge Dictionary)

Pros of Single or “Mindful” Tasking: Giving your full attention to something or someone allows you to use your full intellect and emotions to accomplish what you want to do. Focusing on one thing at a time gives you the ability to give something or someone your best. Weather it is communicating with someone who you care about or completing an important task for your business. This full focus can allow you to potentially save time if this is your goal.  Focusing on one thing at a time feels less stressful and more peaceful. Our bodies are not really intended to be in a “red alert” multi-task framework for long periods of time.

Cons of  Single or “Mindful” Tasking: You may feel you are not getting enough done. You have all this “stuff” going on and you are only doing one thing at a time. You may wonder am I doing all I can. At times you may feel you have no realistic choice but to be doing multi things at once.

 

An Integrated Approach to How We Manage Our Time

As I was writing this, it occurred to me, you can truly only do one thing at a time. It is HOW you choose to do each thing or interact with each person you have in front of you. You do have CHOICES as to how much time and focus you spend on something. And you do have a choice on which thing you focus on first.

Yes there are some realities of performance on a job or making sure all the basics happen at your home or with your children. It may be at times you make a choice to spend less time on something and it be a bit less  perfect. Or you may choose to take time for a conversation as you feel it is more important in the long run than something else you are working on.  It is really all about choice and what you choose to focus on and for how long. And what you view as most important to you.

As a therapist, I would have to weigh in on mindful single tasking as to relationships. Doing more than one thing at a time as you spend time with your partner or child normally does not work well. And of course there are exceptions. But in general without attention and focus, relationships suffer and problems develop.

multi task versus serial chart

So in summary, my take on this issue is . . 

  1. Decide each day what is most important and focus on that.
  2. Be ok with letting go of stuff that does not really matter.
  3. Multi-task when you must, but limit this to when it really has to happen.
  4. Do be MINDFUL or give full attention whenever you can.
  5. Remember your relationships will grow and strengthen with full attention and focus.
  6. Let your mind rest and “be with” whatever you have chosen to focus on, letting go of all the “other things” that are waiting on your “to do” list.

Good luck in finding the best balance with how to manage your time for yourself, your professional life and your personal relationships. Keep in mind you are more than your “to do” list!

Five Ways to Create the POSITIVE Person YOU Want to Be

sunshine riverparks

Do you want to feel positive with a sense of well-being? Most of us do. It makes sense to want to feel lighter and calmer. Others will like you better when you are showing this side of yourself. They will find they feel positive and uplifted as well. It is such a lovely chain reaction.  So how do we get to this “happy place”?

Here are Five Basics for Creating the POSITIVE Person YOU Want to Be.

1. Be Mindful of Your “Thought Life”

One way to start the process of becoming a more positive person is to listen to what you are saying to yourself and to others around you. How positive is your thought life? Of course no one is positive all the time.  We are all human and we will have upsets. But this is really the first step in assessing where you are in your path to becoming a more positive person. So make a point to really hear yourself. Are your thoughts and feelings what you want?

2.  Stress Less – It’s All in Perception

When we are stressed, we open our self for negativity to set in. It is hard not to be negative when we feel overwhelmed or that it is just all too much. So finding ways to lower your stress level is a foundation piece. Many times it is our perception of how we view what is going on around us that makes a situation stressful. If things do not go the way you planned, it is normal to feel frustrated and lean toward feeling negative. But if you can stop and know it is all ok. It will all fall in place. Maybe just not in the way you planned. It will feel better.  If we expect perfection from ourselves or others this too will cause upset. As we all know none of us are perfect and we all do the best we can. Be kind to yourself and others. Trying to remember what is really important in the grander scheme of things can help.  When we remember that we can choose our feeling state and our reaction to something, it is very freeing and allows us to move in a confident, positive manner.

3.   Acknowledge Your Upset Feelings and Move to a Higher Positive Feeling

So now you are really hearing yourself. And you can hear the negative talk you do not like or does not make you feel good. Tuning into how you feel is an excellent guide to letting you know if  you need to regroup and go down another path. When we feel good, we are normally on the path to being the positive person we want to be. So if you are feeling badly, no need to deny it. It is good to be in touch with your core feelings. Sometimes that means you will be sad or mad or anxious. It’s ok. After recognizing and acknowledging your upset feelings, you can move on to a higher, better feeling state. It is a choice you can make. You can let go of your upset and move on.  For example: You wake up and you are feeling overwhelmed. You might say to yourself. “It is all too much. I just can’t do it.” You might acknowledge to yourself your core upset and then do a shift, “Yes I am feeling a bit overwhelmed, but I know all will fall into place. I will do the most important things first. It will all be ok.”

4.  Create an Environment that Helps You to Be Positive

Fill your self with what is positive. Things to consider are: what you are watching on tv and the internet, what you are reading, what and who you are listening to. What we surround ourselves with makes a difference. So hang with happy, positive people, watch uplifting shows and programs, read inspirational materials. It all becomes a part of you!

5.  Focus on “The Good”

On purpose focus on what is going well, what you are looking forward to, who is bringing joy in your life.  Absorb and let all that good soak in and let it be a part of you. Some concrete things that you find helpful are: Keeping a Gratitude Journal, Writing, Speaking or Listening to Positive Affirmations, Meditation. Create a “Grateful Mindset” as this will keep you focused on all that is good in your life.

Becoming more positive is a journey. The goal is not to ignore upset feelings. But to come to a place where you honor those upset feelings and then choose to let them go and move on to a higher, better place where more calmness and feelings of well-being can prevail. Best wishes on your journey!

 

BEING POSITIVE GROWS MORE POSITIVE 

 

 

 

Goal Setting with an Open, Flexible Twist

light bulb with green sprout, taken from word clip, may 14, 2015

Want to reach your goals or BETTER? I am suggesting consideration of goal setting with an open, flexible twist. This allows you to access what life offers you unexpectedly.

Being able to shift and adapt easily can change your life. When you fight changing your well laid out plans you feel frustrated and disgruntled. You may even be flat-out angry. When you are able to be flexible and go with what life presents you may find that you feel happier and so much more at peace. Plus possibly discover something even better than you originally wanted.

I am a bit of a planner and I love to have goals. In fact I encourage my clients to have goals or to set intentions as what they want from life. Having a desired intention can help get you where you want to go. And better yet if you add a “flexible twist” to it.

It is somewhat of a two-sided coin as I promote having goals and  being flexible, open and adaptable. So here is the key idea:

Set your intention or your goal with the idea that you very much desire your goal OR “something that is BETTER”.

This opens up wonderful possibilities that you may have never dreamed of. So take the limits off of your goal or intention. You may find that being open to other ideas and thoughts about something that you desire may lead you to discover something that is exceedingly better than what you originally thought of.  A few examples:

  • You are wanting to get in better shape, but you know it will be hard taking time away from your partner. Your initial goal: “I will go to the gym two days a week to keep in shape OR something BETTER.”  You may find the gym works once a week realistically, but two times not so much. So a shift to one gym trip a week and adding nightly walks with your partner keeps you in shape and gives you time with your loved one.
  • You feel you are rushed every morning and it starts your day feeling anxious. Your initial goal: “I will get up every morning at 6:30 or something BETTER.”  You may find after you experiment with your new get up time that 6:30 helps but it still feels there is no time for you, but that 6:15 gives you that extra bit of time not to feel so rushed and time for a quick meditation. You love this new mini meditation at the beginning of the day.
  • You really want to lose some weight and feel just eating less will do the trick. Your initial goal: “I will lose 10 lbs by December by eating less food or something BETTER.” You may find that eating less food is helping but the weight is not coming off the way you planned,  but when you add exercising it gives you more energy and quicker weight loss. Yahoo!”
  • You are not happy with your job. You feel you have more potential. Your initial goal: “I will find a new place of employment by the end of the year.” You may find that as you explore possibilities that a new position opens that is a perfect fit for you with room to use more of your talents at your current place of employment.”

light bulbs green with hands and feeds jumping up clip art may 14 2015

 I have to say sometimes our plans going awry may not feel like it is better way. But you know the old saying “Take your lemons and make lemonade.” Take what feels like is a not good situation and use it as a jumping board into another place that is more workable and possibly better.

I am also not suggesting that we give up on our goals when things get tough. And just go with whatever comes along, but to be open to what else may be there that is even better. This is more about thinking thoughtfully and opening ourselves and not becoming stuck in feeling our goals must develop in a very specific way.

Best wishes in developing the fine art to being flexible and open to all the wonderful possibilities the universe has to offer us!

Science -Based Reasons to Meditate

meditator siting under a tree woman blue night sky with star

Is meditation really all that helpful? Is there any real research to back it up? Yes, indeed!  I found a wonderful source for current research on meditation that I would like to share. This is taken from the Emma Seppala, Ph.D., The Science of Happiness, Health, & Social Connection website: www.emmaseppala.com   Emma is the Associate Director of the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education. Below is her infographic that she created for one of her blog posts. It is wonderfully concise and understandable. The details of the research can be studied for those who would like to do so, by going to her Psychology Today article that she has listed within the infographic. That article has links to the research sources. The actual blog title within her website is: Benefits of Meditation: 10 Science-Based Reasons to Start Meditating Today INFOGRAPHIC.

10-Science-Based-Reasons-To-Start-Meditating-Today-INFOGRAPHIC

 

I hope you will take the time to check out Emma’s website. Her blog is excellent. She has two free guided meditations if you share your email. I have found guided meditations very helpful as a new meditator.

I will be doing a followup blog post on my own recent “newbie” journey into meditation next week. I am excited to say I have found an approach to help me finally get off the ground as to becoming a meditator.  So check back next week to see my very humble and at times humorous journey to becoming a meditator.

How Counting Your Blessings Can Lead to More Happiness

Beautiful young woman looking in the mirror

Sometimes we don’t feel so blessed and we don’t feel so happy. We feel down and discouraged at times. We are human. It happens. So what can we do to create more happiness? And does “counting our blessings” really have anything to do with happiness? I think it does. Here is my take on how they interconnect with one another.

THE GAME PLAN FOR  COUNTING YOUR BLESSINGS AND CREATING MORE HAPPINESS:

  • Decide for yourself, “What is a blessing?” You might ponder this a bit, what you consider a blessing. For me a blessing can mean multiple things. A blessing can be something that has in some way furthered what I consider my purpose OR has provided a basic need or a want OR has protected me in some way OR has brought me happiness or joy in some way  OR has been what I call a “good” or positive thing and more. Basically all the “GOOD” stuff that happens to us. That said, at times I know sometimes what we think is a negative thing or a closing of a door can in the end be a blessing or a good thing. 
  •  Actively be on the “look out” for the blessings you have in your life. Your blessings come in all sizes. And they all count! Sometimes it may feel like the smaller ones don’t count as much, but they do. Those little blessings accumulate and add up to make a true difference. So let what you call “little blessings” count. Actively look for them each and every day. Of course, you want to look for those medium and large blessings as well.
  • Every time you acknowledge your blessings, you activate more of them. It gives you a sense of hope when you are having a hard time and you notice the small blessings in your life. As you begin to notice them, you will find they start appearing and coming up more often. We attract what we focus on.
  • Talk about your blessings. Talk those blessings up. Tell your husband, your children, your friends, your co-workers and anyone else that you encounter. I am not talking about bragging, but letting others know what you appreciate about what is going on in your life. You may inspire others along the way to re-look at how they view life.
  • Be thankful for your blessings and express gratitude. This may be to a spiritual being or to a person who you feel had a hand in creating these blessing or both or to whatever fits for you. This expression of gratitude helps us to set in motion feelings of well-being or happiness.
  • Focus on your blessings and see your happiness grow! When we focus on what is good going on in our life – the little, the medium and big things, happiness finds us. It is a lovely circle we can create.

So count your blessings. You will be glad you did!

 

How to Let Go and Be Happy

sad girl with hand on face clip art

Are you wanting to let go, but find it hard? Holding on and being stuck in our upset can cause much unhappiness. Learning to “let go” and “be happy” is easier than we may think. So what does it mean to let go?  Here is a summary of my take on what it means to let go and make room for happiness to come into your life.

First of all what letting go is not about. It is not about letting others be abusive or treat us badly and decide it is ok.  It is not about letting a situation continue that is unhealthy.

Letting go is about – CHOOSING to let something not be the “focus”and move on to a different place, CHOOSING to let in the good, CHOOSING to be happy, CHOOSING to live in the now.  It is about focusing on OUR response. 

 happy couple looking at each other on a lawn clip art

What do we need to do to get to the place where we can feel we are ready to let something go? Here are a few things to consider as you think about incorporating more “letting go” into your life.

  1. First of all, acknowledge and give honor to your upset feelings. Your feelings are important and your guide posts as to helping you know what needs to be addressed and possibly not addressed. Regardless, how you feel is important. You have a right to your feelings, all of them.
  2. Consider what you are upset about. Is it worth your time and energy to carry it with you? Our upsets can be put on a very wide continuum. For example: A store clerk is rude. Traffic is extra tough and you get home 15 minutes later than normal. Someone does not agree with your idea in a meeting. Your husband forgets to tell you about a change in plans. Your child does not study for a test and gets a bad grade. Your cat throws up on your carpet. Most of the household chores are being done by you and you are not happy about it. All work and no play. Your partner is depressed and not responsive. You need more connection with your spouse or significant other. The doctor’s appointment does not go well and you have a serious diagnosis. Your mom dies and you are devastated. So, yes we  have a spectrum of what may be upsetting us.
  3. Are the small irritations and disappointments worth our time and focus? Probably not. We can acknowledge our feelings and decide to let it go. If it increases as a problem, we can choose to do something different. If your upset is moderate to big, we will have some additional steps to work through.
  4.   Larger upsets may require some action on our part. CHOOSING what to do after some thoughtful consideration is a part of this plan. Here are some possible things to consider.
  • Would it help to talk to someone? A neutral or supportive party? Or the person who is involved in the upset?
  • Simply talking about our feelings and acknowledging them helps to begin to lessen the power of these feelings. The intensity of how we feel can lesson and we can begin to see more clearly. 1) If you are choosing to talk with a supportive friend, consider one who is more of a listener opposed to telling you what to do.  2) If you choose to talk with the person who is involved in the upset, then try to do it when you are not in a high reactive state, but one on in which you feel you can talk in a low, calm thoughtful way as much as possible with a respectful tone. This will help to create an atmosphere in which the other person will be able to hear you without becoming defensive and be able to respond in a thoughtful way.
  • Deciding what you need to feel better and taking action to make that happen. If this involves another then it may mean exploring ideas that will work for both of you. This may be a process, but just beginning this interaction will take you where you want to go. It may mean letting go of rigid ideas of what has to happen to make it better. Seeing both sides and coming to a point that peace and what you both can live with may be the answer. This said, there may be some things that do not have a middle ground. For example a third-party involvement in a relationship or an ongoing drug or alcohol issue.  A decisive stance or action on your part my be part of what is needed. If this is an individual issue, it may involve deciding what is best for you and then moving toward this action.
  • Forgiveness may be a part of the plan. This is a letting go process and one that is not always simple. But it is attainable. Forgiveness is not saying you are ok with a betrayal or a hurtful interaction, etc. It is about choosing to come to a place of letting it go to let the good come back in. And beginning the process of re-building and healing.
  • Shift to a happier place. Begin to focus on what makes you feel happy. You can build on this, creating more of what you want in your life.

We all have to decide how much power we want something to have over us. Sometimes we may need to have a time of grief, especially with a significant loss. This is normal and part of what we may need. At some point with small or large things we can come to a point of deciding if we are ready to let go or at least partially let go and let the good stuff back into our life.  Happiness and joy is something we all deserve. We have the power to create the life we want.

Too Busy for Self Care?

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Are you too busy for self-care? Too busy for the good stuff?  You are not alone. I am currently in process of putting together a presentation for a group of therapists on self-care and have found myself ironically just too busy to do good self-care for myself due to this extra project. I finally got a hold of myself and said,  “ENOUGH. You must take time to care for yourself or you will not be of help to anyone else.” My body actually did some of this for me this last week and had me not feeling well, needing to cancel some commitments. I always joke with my family that my body will just shut me down if I do not listen to it.  And it truly does so.

First of all what is good self-care?

  • Starting with the “basics”. Enough sleep to feel refreshed when you get up in the morning. Healthy food that makes you feel good and keeps your body in good working order and full of energy.  Let us not forget, lots of water which has been shown to help alleviate stress and of course helps to flush toxins from the body. Then there is physical exercise, which can come in many forms. It can be a simple daily evening walk or going to the YMCA two nights a week, riding your bike or whatever is a fit for you to help keep you physically healthy.
  • Then we have emotional health that is very intertwined with the body. The mind-body connection is strong and research continues to grow in this area.  Stress affects your emotional and physical health. How you are doing emotionally makes a difference as to how you will fare physically. This is common sense that we all witness. But our busy lives keep us in a place where we do not always think about what we really know instinctively about our bodies. One thing to consider about your stress is how you view it.  You have a choice in how you choose to look at something, even if you can not change the circumstances. By choosing to think in a way that helps you to feel better, you can be in a more peaceful place.
  • Putting your joy and happiness up at the top of your list is important. This allows you to then share that happiness with your families and loved ones. Balancing family needs and personal needs can be challenging. But the more balance the better you will feel.

So what can you do when you are just too busy to do good self-care???

  1. You can PRIORITIZE. Meaning you can decide what is most important and rank in order what you feel you most need to do. At the top of the list should be good self-care. And yes that is not always easy. It many times means having to let go of something else. There really are only 24 hours in a day. Even though I so want more at times. But 24 is REALLY enough. When you live each moment in the present and know you will never have it all done and it is ok, you can feel so much more peaceful.
  2. You can say NO to some things. You can let go of having to have your list completely done each day. You can do the best you can and feel good about what you did accomplish. You can remind yourselves you do not need to be perfect. You are wonderful just the way you are!
  3. You can do mini self-care breaks. Maybe you really do have to finish a work project or take our child to practice each night. But  you can incorporate ways to take breaks with your work. Maybe it is a simple 5 or 10 minute walk outside to regroup. Or maybe you decide you can carpool with another parent for your child’s practice. You may feel you need to have a large block of time to do self care. I would invite you to consider ways to incorporate smaller bite sized self care breaks. I know for me more self care happens when I use this approach.

I will be exploring the issue of self-care in more detail in my fall quarterly  newsletter. If you wish to subscribe to my newsletter, you are welcome to go my website and go into the Well Being Newsletter tab and sign up there. My website address is as follows: www.stromtherapy.com I might add I have an archive of all my past newsletters in this section of my website.

Take good care of yourself. YOU are so worth it!