Why we should all stop saying “I know exactly how you feel”

Copyright : adamgregor

I absolutely love this article by Celeste Headlee, which is why I am posting this again on my blogsite.

If you’ve ever just wanted to vent about something in your life that was aggravating you, only to be told by someone, “Oh yes, I know EXACTLY how you feel!”, then endure their recollection of an incident which they believe mimicked yours? Basically, such a reaction flips the focus of the conversation to the other person and diminishes the significance of your experience.

Undoubtedly some of you do this, and you feel that you are being empathetic or helpful, when in reality you are forcing people to listen to your story, while you drown out what they have to say. It can often appear as if you are one-upping the other person with your woeful experiences, even though you honestly believe that you are helping.

Here’s the original article, copied and pasted here for you to read. You can also visit the link directly at:
Why we should all stop saying “I know exactly how you feel”

Why we should all stop saying “I know exactly how you feel”
Sep 21, 2017 / Celeste Headlee

You don’t. And you’re also steering the focus away from someone who probably just wants to be heard. Here’s how to be a more considerate conversation partner, says radio host and writer Celeste Headlee.

A good friend of mine lost her dad some years back. I found her sitting alone outside our workplace, just staring at the horizon. She was absolutely distraught, and I didn’t know what to say to her. It’s so easy to say the wrong thing to someone who is grieving and vulnerable.

So I started talking about how I grew up without a father. I told her my dad had drowned in a submarine when I was only nine months old and I’d always mourned his loss, even though I’d never known him. I wanted her to realize that she wasn’t alone, that I’d been through something similar and I could understand how she felt.

But after I related this story, my friend snapped, “Okay, Celeste, you win. You never had a dad and I at least got to spend 30 years with mine. You had it worse. I guess I shouldn’t be so upset that my dad just died.”

I was stunned and mortified. “No, no, no,” I said, “that’s not what I’m saying at all. I just meant I know how you feel.”

And she answered, “No, Celeste, you don’t. You have no idea how I feel.”

Often subtle and unconscious, conversational narcissism is the desire to do most of the talking and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself.

She walked away and I stood there feeling like a jerk. I had wanted to comfort her and, instead, I’d made her feel worse. When she began to share her raw emotions, I felt uncomfortable so I defaulted to a subject with which I was comfortable: myself. She wanted to talk about her father, to tell me about the kind of man he was. She wanted to share her cherished memories. Instead, I asked her to listen to my story.

From that day forward, I started to notice how often I responded to stories of loss and struggle with stories of my own experiences. My son would tell me about clashing with a kid in Boy Scouts, and I would talk about a girl I fell out with in college. When a coworker got laid off, I told her about how much I struggled to find a job after I had been laid off years earlier. But when I began to pay more attention, I realized the effect of sharing my experiences was never as I intended. What all of these people needed was for me to hear them and acknowledge what they were going through. Instead, I forced them to listen to me.

Sociologist Charles Derber describes this tendency as “conversational narcissism.” Often subtle and unconscious, it’s the desire to take over a conversation, to do most of the talking, and to turn the focus of the exchange to yourself. Derber writes that it “is the key manifestation of the dominant attention-getting psychology in America.”

He describes two kinds of responses in conversations: a shift response and a support response. The first shifts attention back to yourself, and the second supports the other person’s comment.

Example number 1:

The shift response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Me, too. I’m totally overwhelmed.

The support response
Mary: I’m so busy right now.
Tim: Why? What do you have to get done?

Example number 2:

The shift response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Me, too. These things are falling apart.

The support response
Karen: I need new shoes.
Mark: Oh yeah? What kind are you thinking about?

Shift responses are a hallmark of conversational narcissism — they help you turn the focus constantly back to yourself. But a support response encourages the other person to continue their story. It lets them know you’re listening and interested in hearing more.

We can craftily disguise our attempts to shift focus — we might start a sentence with a supportive remark and then follow up with a comment about ourselves.

The game of catch is often used as a metaphor for conversation. In an actual game of catch, you’re forced to take turns. But in conversation, we often find ways to resist giving someone else a turn. Sometimes, we use passive means to subtly grab control of the exchange.

This tug-of-war over attention is not always easy to track. We can very craftily disguise our attempts to shift focus. We might start a sentence with a supportive comment, and then follow up with a comment about ourselves. For instance, if a friend tells us they just got a promotion, we might respond by saying, “That’s great! Congratulations. I’m going to ask my boss for a promotion, too. I hope I get it.”

Such a response could be fine, as long as we allow the focus to shift back to the other person again. However, the healthy balance is lost when we repeatedly shine the attention back on ourselves.

While reciprocity is an important part of any meaningful conversation, the truth is shifting the attention to our own experiences is completely natural. Modern humans are hardwired to talk about themselves more than any other topic. One study found that “most social conversation time is devoted to statements about the speaker’s own emotional experiences and/or relationships, or those of third parties not present.”

The insula, an area of the brain deep inside the cerebral cortex, takes in the information that people tell us and then tries to find a relevant experience in our memory banks that can give context to the information. It’s mostly helpful: the brain is trying to make sense of what we hear and see. Subconsciously, we find similar experiences and add them to what’s happening at the moment, and then the whole package of information is sent to the limbic regions, the part of the brain just below the cerebrum. That’s where some trouble can arise — instead of helping us better understand someone else’s experience, our own experiences can distort our perceptions of what the other person is saying or experiencing.

The more comfortable you are, the more difficult it is to empathize with the suffering of another.

A study from the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences suggests that our egos distort our perception of our empathy. When participants watched a video of maggots in a group setting, they could understand that other people might be repulsed by it. But if one person was shown pictures of puppies while the others were shown the maggot video, the puppy viewer generally underestimated the rest of the group’s negative reaction to the maggots.

Study author Dr. Tania Singer observed, “The participants who were feeling good themselves assessed their partners’ negative experiences as less severe than they actually were. In contrast, those who had just had an unpleasant experience assessed their partners’ good experience less positively.” In other words, we tend to use our own feelings to determine how others feel.

Here’s how that translates to your daily conversations: Let’s say you and a friend are both laid off at the same time by the same company. In that case, using your feelings as a measure of your friend’s feelings may be fairly accurate because you’re experiencing the same event. But what if you’re having a great day and you meet a friend who was just laid off? Without knowing it, you might judge how your friend is feeling against your good mood. She’ll say, “This is awful. I’m so worried that I feel sick to my stomach.” You’d respond, “Don’t worry, you’ll be okay. I was laid off six years ago and everything turned out fine.” The more comfortable you are, the more difficult it is to empathize with the suffering of another.

It took me years to realize I was much better at the game of catch than I was at its conversational equivalent. Now I try to be more aware of my instinct to share stories and talk about myself. I try to ask questions that encourage the other person to continue. I’ve also made a conscious effort to listen more and talk less.

Recently, I had a long conversation with a friend who was going through a divorce. We spent almost 40 minutes on the phone, and I barely said a word. At the end of our call, she said, “Thank you for your advice. You’ve really helped me work some things out.”

The truth is, I hadn’t offered any advice. Most of what I said was a version of “That sounds tough. I’m sorry this is happening to you.” She didn’t need advice or stories from me. She just needed to be heard.

Excerpted from the new book We Need to Talk: How to Have Conversations That Matter by Celeste Headlee. Published by Harper Wave, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers. © 2017 Celeste Headlee.

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How Social Media Has Messed Us Up

The majority of us can’t even imagine being without our cell phones. The relatively tiny devices we carry around with us now function as GPS devices, marvelous computers which connect us to every part of the world, tie us into a massive information network which we have become entirely reliant on, and also happen to function as the basic communication aids which were originally invented by Italian inventor Antonio Meucci in 1849 (Alexander Graham Bell won the credit in 1876 as a result of winning the first U.S. patent).

Cell phones have become a necessity in modern society, but they have also caused us to develop compulsive behaviors which feed into the irresistible distraction which they present. Though you may deny it, I am willing to bet that you experience a certain level of anxiety if your cell phone battery power winds down, if you lose reception, if you lose a Wifi signal, or are somehow locked out of a website you need to access immediately. We have become so reliant on the immediate gratification which comes with doing a Google search on our Smartphones or iPhones that we have turned into petulant children when glitches occur. We are so dependent on our cellular devices that they have become security blankets.

Whether we like it or not, our reliance on cellular technology makes us less productive and less attentive to ordinary daily tasks. We could be sitting at work, cooking a meal, walking our dogs, or driving to work, while still concerned about what supposedly vital information we are missing by not staring at our phones. God forbid we miss our friends’ Facebook updates or allow our email inboxes to pile up as we try to navigate through a typical day! We are accustomed to having our phones close by at all times, and every time it makes a notification sound, we stop what we are doing to attend to our phones, which draws attention away from what we should really be focused on. Time ticks by, and suddenly, we are distracted from viewing a beautiful sunset. Even if we view that beautiful sunset, we tend to feel a compulsion to record the sunset by taking a picture of it with those confounded phones.

Even when we aren’t at work, our brains must sort through an enormous amount of information from our phones and computers. One 2011 study stated that we take in the equivalent of about 174 newspapers’ worth of information every single day. And since the brain’s ability to process information is limited, we often end up feeling overwhelmed and anxious as we try to power through all the information being thrown at us. Though the age of social media has enabled us to connect in novel and far-reaching ways, it also robs us of our attention and distracts us from other tasks.

It’s no wonder that the incidence of anxiety in our society has increased dramatically.

There should be a limit on the frequency with which we view social media sites. Be sure to set aside a brief designated time each day to check emails and peruse social media, then PUT YOUR PHONE AWAY. Leave the bulk of each day to relaxing, sightseeing, engaging in outdoor activities, and enjoying life. Trust me, your brain needs a break from the constant influx of technology.

Another disturbing reality about our attachment to cell phones is the false sense of community we feel as a result of social media notifications and texts. The perception is that we are part of a vast network, but the ironic thing is that we tend to access our cell phones while alone. This isolation from actual interaction can actually trigger loneliness and depression. From the moment we wake up until we rest our heads to sleep, our cell phones are always on. They even serve as our alarm clocks now!

Social Media And The Random Butt Pic

Don’t you love how social media platforms like Instagram pander to our urge to post images of ourselves for the world to see? It’s a veritable paradise for exhibitionists and voyeurs alike. Yes, I know that many of us use social media to share our interests, advertise products or services, or build our personal brands. But there are enough scandalous images which make it onto the news feed that I wonder what they are really trying to sell.

There are evenings when I will peruse the Explore page on Instagram. The vast majority of featured posts which show up on my phone are of cute animals, which is completely appropriate, since I am such a huge animal lover. However, I will often be in the process of scrolling down, when a random, bare-assed image shows up.

I’m not talking about images in which a woman is showing off her conditioned glutes in a sexy bikini or a snug pair of workout pants. I’m not even talking about a professional aesthetic nude shot which is tasteful. I am talking about a bare-assed, naked, in a slutty bent-over pose selfie. How does an image like that show off a woman’s gains at the gym? Something like that only shows that she has no self-respect, and is willing to show the world her goodies and contribute to an online spank bank. My reaction is always to shake my head in disgust, then keep scrolling down.

What blows my mind is that many of the people who are posting these images are fitness people who want to expand their following. I’ve got news for every single person who does this: you are only making yourself look like a slut! Sure, some sex-crazed jerks will click on your “look at my ASS!” pic, like it, and possibly follow you, but do you really want someone to follow you because he saw your bare bottom and wants to tap it? Those followers can even be downright dangerous if they are mentally unbalanced.

The queen of the slutty butt pics has got to be Kim Kardashian, whose bold butt photo blew up the internet in 2014:

Kim-Kardashian-Paper-Magazine-butt-November-2014

Do you really want to be known as a spectacle, someone who is only known for having a hot body or for being willing to bare all on a regular basis? A good filter to use when you are thinking of posting an image on social media is to ask yourself, “Would I be okay with my dad/mom/daughter/son/brother/sister/grandpa/grandma seeing this image?” Try not to rationalize the response, but really pay attention to what the image conveys, as well as what kind of audience it will draw in. Another good filter is to ask yourself, “Will I be proud or embarrassed about this image in 5/10/1/20/25/30 years?” Don’t forget that everything will follow you, whether you like it or not!

Online Cognitive Training – Helpful Or Not?

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I came across an interesting article which discussed online cognitive training, and I wanted to share excerpts from it. Following the shared post is my own opinion of online cognitive training, based on my personal experience with the most popular programs.

Does Online Cognitive Training Work? – By Pauline Anderson

Online cognitive training programs promise to boost memory and attention, and they’re popping up at a rapid pace. According to one dementia expert, the online cognitive training business has grown from about $200 million annually 6 or 7 years ago to an estimated $2 billion a year today.

But are these companies truly giving patients an edge when it comes to warding off dementia, or are they cashing in on the worried well and an often vulnerable aging population?

Cognitive training is loosely defined as regularly engaging in a cognitive task, for example, learning a list of words, a set of pictures, or a certain route to a particular target.

Online cognitive training programs typically involve buying a monthly or annual subscription that allows users access to various cognitive tasks. These users sit at a computer to do these tasks on a regular basis. They usually have to pay more to get upgraded applications.

“It’s a huge industry,” says Peter Snyder, PhD, professor, neurology, Alpert Medical School, Brown University, and chief research officer, Lifespan Hospital System, Providence, Rhode Island, and editor, Alzheimer’s & Dementia: Diagnosis, Assessment & Disease Monitoring, the Alzheimer’s Association’s online, open-access journal. Not surprisingly, many of these brain training companies target the aging baby boomer market. For the next 15 years, 10,000 people per day, every day, will turn age 65 in the United States, Dr Snyder said.

Many of them are worried about their memory. The issue of how to prevent dementia ”actually comes up almost every time I see a patient,” says David Knopman, MD, professor, neurology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, and an investigator in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer Research Center, Rochester, Minnesota. If they still have a job, Dr Knopman advises patients that they probably get enough stimulation in the work environment. ”Certainly the computer can’t be as good for mental stimulation as the challenges you face in the work environment, even if you’re not in an executive position.”

And if the patient is retired but reads newspapers, belongs to a book club, or does volunteer work, “what would the computer testing offer that this socially engaging and mentally stimulating activity doesn’t provide?” asks Dr Knopman.

The benefits of cognitive activity aren’t in question. It’s clear from the literature, says Dr Snyder, that engaging cognitively with challenging and varied tasks may help slow the rate of progression of Alzheimer’s disease.

Rock Solid Evidence

The lifestyle factor that has the most credible evidence for protecting against dementia to date is not cognitive training but physical activity. “The evidence is absolutely rock solid; it’s incontrovertible,” says Dr Snyder.

He worries that patients will play online cognitive games three times a week in the hopes of protecting their brain instead of taking a brisk walk three times a week.

And Dr Knopman is concerned that those playing brain games may not be socially active. Online cognitive training is ‘the opposite of being socially engaged,” he notes. “They force people to bury themselves in the computer for a certain period of time.”

It’s not clear whether pursuing cognitive training online adds any further benefits to physical and cognitive pursuits offline. That’s because to date there’s scant literature on the subject.

One study published earlier this year in The Lancet looked at the effect of healthy eating and exercise in addition to brain training in 1260 people aged 60 to 77 years who were at risk for dementia. Researchers found that an intensive program incorporating all three approaches, plus management of metabolic and vascular risk factors, slowed cognitive decline over 2 years.

Overall scores on the Neuropsychological Test Battery in the intervention group were 25% higher than those in a control group that received only regular health advice. The results were particularly striking in the areas of executive function and processing speed.

But how much brain training contributes to the mix remains to be seen.

Literature a “Wreck”

The literature in this area leaves a lot to be desired, Dr Snyder said. Most of the published literature is a “wreck,” he says, partly because the outcome measures are confounded, the follow-up period isn’t long enough, or proper comparisons aren’t in place.

A randomized controlled trial of cognitive training would have to compare this training to an appropriate placebo, he points out. “In this case, what’s the placebo? Is it absolutely nothing at all, which in most cases is what has been done?”

The question, says Dr Snyder, should be whether the online tasks are more effective than freely accessible pursuits doctors might routinely recommend to older adults, which in addition to regular physical activity might be things like learning a new language or practicing the piano.

Learning a language or an instrument is a complex process that involves several cognitive functions. In contrast, many of the online cognitive games being marketed focus on very specific cognitive functions, for example, remembering word lists.

So after some practice, you may get good at remembering those word lists — the so-called training effect — but how that translates into everyday life is unclear. “Is learning word lists over and over again on a computer going to generalize to being able to find your car in a crowded parking lot at a shopping mall?” asks Dr Snyder.

But forgetting where you parked your car, or the name of your grandson, can be a scary experience. More and more patients are looking for ways to prevent their descent into mental fog.

And so they’re increasingly turning to online cognitive games. “This is an industry that I worry preys on the elderly, preys on a vulnerable population,” says Dr Snyder.

Sweet Spot

William Mansbach, PhD, from Mansbach Health Tools LLC, Simpsonville, Maryland, agrees that the “sweet spot” for the at-home brain training industry is the “worried well” and that in general the industry’s claims far exceed the evidence.

But this may not be the case for those already experiencing memory impairment. His company has developed programs that he says can improve global cognition in these patients in as little as 3 weeks if they practice for 20 minutes, three times a week.

One of his programs — Memory Match — is a cognitive training task that exercises working memory and attention using themed cards. A study discussed at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference earlier this year found that those with mild cognitive impairment and mild dementia improved significantly on this test compared to a control group that didn’t receive it. Importantly, says Dr Mansbach, those with more severe dementia did not improve.

In structured interviews following this study, participants in the treatment group pointed to the intervention as a reason their memory improved, according to Dr Mansbach.

He’s proud of the “clear evidence” and “large effect sizes” from the study that suggest that this approach is legitimate.

Patients using his brain training tasks first do a self-assessment to determine at what level to start in order to get maximum benefit, he says. One of his criticisms of other programs is that there are no real assessment of the person doing the training and no concrete idea of what needs improving.

However, while he’s convinced his program works in the short run, long-term benefits are unclear. “We have no idea, and no one does.”

There could well be an important role for cognitive training outside industry, though. Jens Pruessner, PhD, professor, psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, thinks that using this training may help pinpoint patterns that might be clues to the onset of dementia.

In a research project, he and his colleagues are testing PONDER (Prevention of Neurodegenerative Disease in Everyone at Risk), a free online cognitive training program aimed at those aged 40 years and up. Using neuropsychological assessments, researchers are tracking the progress of users to see whether the frequency, intensity, and duration of cognitive training leads to observable changes over time.

“Let’s say that in general, the training effect is such that you improve by 20% over time when you have been doing this task every other week for 6 months,” said Dr Pruessner. “Are those people who only improve by 10% or 5% at risk of developing mild cognitive impairment and eventually dementia?”

So far, the mean age of users is 57 years, which is exactly when age-related cognitive decline begins in those destined to develop dementia. Dr Pruessner notes that dementia begins some 20 years before clinical symptoms become significant.

Perhaps the most well-known of these companies is Lumos Labs in San Francisco, California, whose brain training site, Lumosity, is used by more than 70 million “brain trainers” in 182 countries, the company’s website notes.

The company has a collaborative research initiative, called the Human Cognition Project (HCP), that it says partners with more than 90 collaborators from 40 universities. “Through the HCP, we grant qualified researchers free access to Lumosity’s cognitive training tasks, assessments, research tools, and in some cases, limited access to data on cognitive task performance — helping them conduct larger, faster, and more efficient studies,” the website notes.

Lumosity also has in-house researchers to develop new cognitive training tasks and assessments, provide administration of controlled studies, and study Lumosity gameplay information to enhance the experience, the site notes.

Several publications in peer-reviewed journals have used Lumosity data. Earlier this year, researchers published a paper in Alzheimer’s & Dementia using data from Lumosity’s Memory Match game, which requires visual working memory, to look at individual differences in age-related changes in working memory. They found significant effects of age on baseline scores and lower learning rates. “Online memory games have the potential to identify age-related decline in cognition and to identify subjects at risk for cognitive decline with smaller sample sizes and lower cost than traditional recruitment methods,” the authors concluded.

A randomized trial of nonaction video games from the Lumosity site reported in 2014 in Frontiers in Aging Neuroscience showed improvements with training in processing speed, attention, and immediate and delayed visual recognition memory in the trained group, but no variation in the control group. Neither group improved in visuospatial working memory or executive control, the researchers report.

“Overall, the current results support the idea that training healthy older adults with non-action video games will enhance some cognitive abilities but not others,” the researchers, with first author Soledad Ballesteros, PhD, Studies on Aging and Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Group, Universidad Nacional de Educación a Distancia, Madrid, Spain, concluded.

Multiple emails and telephone messages to Lumosity requesting an interview for this article, sent over several weeks, were not returned.

Personal Trainer for the Brain?

So, at the end of the day, should that 57-year-old patient who is worried about his forgetfulness fork out subscription fees every month to play cognitive games? If it keeps someone mentally active, “why not?” says Dr Belleville.

She points out that people pay a lot of money to join a gym when they could jog for free in the park. “If you have to pay a gym to continue to do your exercises, then pay; it’s worth the money.”

However, she acknowledges that while there’s a good deal of evidence that a certain amount and intensity of physical activity is good for the brain, “when you look at cognitive training, it’s all over the place.”

And she agrees that it’s not clear whether the training effect goes beyond the task being practiced — or whether it has the same impact as informal training, such as doing crossword puzzles several times a week.

On the other hand, “it’s probably better than doing nothing at all and looking at silly programs on television,” she says. “I think there’s something there, but we need to understand better what the active ingredient is so we can provide good advice to people.”

Now here’s my take on online training:

I believe that the practice and the HABIT of performing cognitive training serves a beneficial purpose for people who engage in it. I also strongly agree that such training programs are a much better alternative to watching television. While I agree with Dr Knopman that computer cognitive training doesn’t provide an individual with any benefits over reading, learning a foreign language, or engaging in a complex mental activity which would protect brain function, I strongly believe that the current pace of society has made it extremely difficult for people to find time to engage in such activities. On a personal note, I never have time to leisurely read a book like I used to in the past. For me, a ten minute visit to a brain training website keeps my skills sharp and is a nice break from the hectic lifestyle which I deal with all the time. In addition, my regular cognitive games do not interfere in any way with my four to six day per week exercise regimen. I also maintain social engagement through work and my personal life. I am thankful for the brief visits to training websites, because they make me feel less guilty about not having an hour or two to carve out of the day to dive into a book.

Learn a Foreign Tongue To Protect Your Brain

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Please read my original post at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/learn-a-foreign-tongue-to-protect-your-brain/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Bilingual Brains

Numerous research studies have revealed that people who speak two or more languages possess greater skill in multitasking and paying attention than those who only speak one language. In addition, a 2013 study discovered that individuals who spoke two languages developed the signs of dementia more than four years later than people who only spoke one language, which strongly suggests that being bilingual may help to delay the onset of dementia.

Never Too Late

Scientists have determined that the earlier one learns a second language, the greater the protective benefits against dementia, but it is never too late to learn a foreign tongue, even if you only learn a bit of the language. Be ready for a challenge, though, because most aspects of learning a foreign language later in life will be more difficult.

One clear benefit which older individuals have over youngsters when learning a foreign language is that they have much larger vocabularies which are often as large as those of native speakers. However, the challenges which exist for older people learning a foreign tongue are numerous. First of all, phonemes, or sounds, of a language are very easily picked up by children, but are much more difficult for adults to learn. Secondly, adults automatically hear a foreign language through the filter of their native language, which is not the case in toddlers. As a result, the older learner may have issues with pronunciation.

A toddler’s brain has about fifty percent more neuron connections than an adult brain. The extra connections are a safeguard against potential early trauma, but are also critical for early language acquisition. After a child reaches six years of age, adaptability declines as a result of the brain’s need to acquire other skills during development. This adaptability, also known as neuroplasticity, continues to plummet throughout the years, making it more difficult to obtain new language skills.

Several studies have suggested that learning a foreign language later in life can delay age-related cognitive decline, as well as delay the onset of dementia. In addition, the mental challenge of learning a new language during later years improves executive function, which is important for mental flexibility.

Put Your Phone Down!

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Please read my original post at:

http://xactmind.com/xc/articles/put-your-phone-down/

By: Dr. Stacey Naito – Physician and IFBB Pro

Cell phones are a necessary evil these days, but if you think about how much of your day you spend looking into a mobile device, you might realize that you have become overly dependent on it. Why is this such a bad thing? Well, for starters, our reliance on cellular technology makes us less productive and less attentive to tasks which we perform throughout the day. Whether you are cooking an omelet, driving to work, or drafting a letter, chances are that your cell phone is close by, and that every time it makes a notification sound, you stop what you are doing to attend to your phone, which draws attention away from what you should be focused on.

Cell phones are so distracting that scientists discovered that texting or engaging in conversation on a cell phone while walking can interfere with your ability to walk enough to cause accidents. This is because working memory and executive functioning are required during cell phone use, which distracts the user from the motor function of walking.

Another disturbing reality about our attachment to cell phones is the false sense of community we feel as a result of social media notifications and texts. The perception is that we are part of a vast network, but the ironic thing is that we tend to access our cell phones while alone. This isolation from actual interaction can actually trigger loneliness and depression. From the moment we wake up until we rest our heads to sleep, our cell phones are always on. They even serve as our alarm clocks now!

If you want to be more productive, leave your cell phone alone when you first wake up in the morning, and avoid using it while eating, driving, or performing other tasks. The messages and emails aren’t going anywhere, and neither are social media updates.

References:

Lamberg EM, Muratori LM. Cell phones change the way we talk. Gait Posture 2012 Apr:35(4):688-90.