How many thoughts are you juggling in your head right this moment? How many times have you had your train of thought interrupted just in the last hour? The pace of distraction has risen even faster than the pace of life, and we’re all feeling the effects: overwhelm and mental fatigue, inefficiency, anxiety, and a sense of having lost touch with yourself under the load of details you are trying to keep track of.
Some amazing statistics, in a Tedtalk by Manoush Zomorodi, put our current distraction level into perspective. How many times a day do you think you check your email? The average count is 74! What’s more, the average number of times a person working at a computer switches tasks during the day is 566. This has changed drastically over time, according to Zomorodi: 10 years ago it was normal for people to shift their attention every 3 minutes in the workplace, but now it is every 45 seconds. No wonder we feel exhausted! She quotes neuroscientist, Daniel Levitin, who points out that we are “depleting neural resources”—actually using up nutrients in our brain—when we constantly shift attention like this.
It is tough to just maintain basic well-being, let alone replenish your coping resources, and cultivate a rich internal life, when you change focus non-stop. That’s why meditation practices can be so powerful: just stopping, breathing, and slowing down the mind is a return to “home base” for your whole nervous system.
Other great tools for breaking out of the attention-shifting rat-race are insight writing practices, such as values-affirmation writing, Proprioceptive Writing, and the HeartMath “Cut-Through” method for transforming anxiety. Offering varying degrees of structure, these simple methods allow you to focus, delve into your feelings, and follow your thoughts through to new perspectives and insights.
You’ll find solutions, strengths, and inspiration await you when you take up a pen and paper and dedicate a few minutes to a single activity! You’ll also find that these methods can work almost like a detox or a cleanse. Over time, you unburden yourself from the negative material you’ve “stored” in your mind, and you begin to feel lighter. And, like the research on meditation, the evidence is strong for the positive impact on stress hormones. For example, the Cut-Through technique has been shown to reduce the stress hormone, cortisol, by 23%, while raising the helpful hormone, DHEA, by 100% when practiced for 30 days (Childre & Rozman, Transforming Anxiety, 89).
These writing techniques are easy to learn, and have come to my rescue countless times! I’ll be sharing them in my upcoming Energize Your Writing Workshop, called “Write to Shine Your Light,” which combines Eden Energy Medicine techniques with these great writing practices. Why don’t you bring a friend, and join us on Sunday, Oct. 28, from 3-5 pm? Please contact me to pre-register! ($20 registration fee)