Why do you think they call it Dope…amine
Enjoying a break – but still can’t stop a sneak peek at your email or fb feed? It’s really addictive … and gets even worse back at work.
Let’s look at email. How many do you clock up in a day? It’s a mainstay of contact for most of my clients.
If you’re like me, you hate a messy inbox and want to get replies and info out to clients as quickly as possible. Sweet satisfaction as you press send. Why do we get addicted to a simple tool?
When you read a nice email or one that stimulates a ‘to do’ response. Your brain launches a dose of Dopamine, the reward and feel-good neurotransmitter. Before you know where you are, in the manner of Pavlov’s dogs, you’re wired to crave more dopamine. The exact same addiction mechanism activates in the brains of gamblers.
So, how to step back from it and regulate that pesky email checking impulses?
Firstly you need to know your habit is fuelled by the promise of reward and a natural reactivity. Kids learn early to control their less social impulses to survive crèche. Now it seems adults need a refresher too.
What to do
Start by noticing how often you’re pulled into checking email and social media updates.. Designate certain times for checking in. Turn off your notification system. Do what you’re doing – until you complete it.
Experts identified a lag time – called ‘switch time’ – for our brains to refocus after changing from one task to another. A quick detour to an email or update costs a 64 second reboot as you come back up to speed and tune back in to what you were doing. Students clients fall foul of switch time during revision. Break time is perfect for a timed switch!
Habits are hard to break when most of what we do is on auto pilot and reacting mindlessly.
I teach clients to interrupt, and change these patterns, with mindfulness skills. Learn to focus on the present moment, commit to the task in hand and how to:
S – Stop what you’re doing for a few seconds.
T – Take a normal breath. Notice your chest, belly & nostrils as you breathe.
O – Observe what’s going through your mind, thoughts, feelings, emotions. Simply noticing, and labelling them, is calming.
P – Proceed to do something supportive right now … a stretch, sips of water or a word with a friend.
Mindfulness is simple but surprisingly difficult to do! Practice really does make perfect so that’s why a regular mindfulness workout develops resilience – and more useful habits.