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Just…BREATHE

Just…BREATHE


    One of the things I like about my job is that I can do things like watch iTunesU…and claim it’s work.

    While doing that recently I came across a lecture by Dr Margaret Chesney of the UCSF Osher Centre for Integrative Medicine. It’s a long (nearly 90 minutes long) lecture ,but the contents are great if you’re trying to find tools for coping and dealing the crud life throws at you. So I’ve put together a summary in this piece.

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    (If you want the subtlties you’ll just have to listen through for yourself.)

    There’s a lot in common with the work of people like Professor Martin Seligman’s work on confidence and happiness (and so on), but there’s a new twist to it too — which is covered a lot more in the video than in this summary.

    In short…it’s based on the acronym BREATHE.

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    B

    Be in the moment. Simple. Make a point of noticing what’s going on around you, right here, right now. Try some conscious breathing exercises to help increase your awareness. (You can have a look at almost any writing about ‘mindfulness‘ to help you here, too.) The important thing is to become aware of the here-and-now.

    R

    Realistic goals – set ’em. Don’t set yourself targets that you can’t possibly achieve. That way you’re making things worse for yourself because you’re setting yourself up for a continuous stream of failure. By all means stretch yourself but don’t over-stretch yourself. Stretch shouldn’t become ‘strain’.

    E

    Everyday events – notice them. Dr Chesney has a lovely moment of pointing out to people that they really hate not being able to breathe easily when they’ve got a cold… and they hate it… and they notice it… but how many people notice it when they’ve not got a cold and can breathe easily? Things like ‘gratitude logs’ help here.

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    Or just stop, right now, and do nothing for a few minutes except jot down the good things around you that you should be grateful for.. and that you are grateful for, now you’ve taken the time to think of them! Let’s start with the fact that you’ve got eyes that work enough to read this (or something to read it for you!) and electricity to work your computer to display it…. you get the idea!

    A

    Acts of kindness – do ’em! Creating positive moments for other people makes you feel better and makes you feel better about yourself. Quite apart from that, it makes their day better too!  Making the world a better place one act of kindness at a time? Cool!

    T

    Turn around the negatives. This one’s a challenge. It’s about reframing stuff and finding the ‘silver lining’ to your cloud. Sure it’s not easy and some things just don’t have a silver lining that you can find at the time  but a lot of stuff does. Most things in fact. Almost everything.

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    No one is saying it’s easy or that bad stuff isn’t bad stuff – just that trying to use the bad stuff and mitigate it with a sliver of good is better than just being a victim.

    H

    Honour your strengths – be true to yourself. Be true to your values. Be true to what you’re good at – and admit that you’re good at things. Make a point of listing them. Don’t pretend you don’t have any – false modesty isn’t anything to be proud of… and people see through it easily enough anyway recognising it as a form of arrogance. So what’s wrong with just accepting to yourself that you’re good at something – and then acting on it!!?

    E

    End each day with gratitude – check what has happened that day. Go over it and find the good in it. For those things that weren’t so good, decide what you can do about them. What can you learn; what can you do differently? If there’s nothing (really?!!?) let go. Sleep well, knowing that you’ve got a plan and you’re not wallowing in the bad…. :)

    I hope I’ve done Dr Chesney justice. If you want the full thing, here you go!

    (Photo credit: Breathe via Shutterstock)

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    Last Updated on February 21, 2019

    How to Stop Information Overload

    How to Stop Information Overload

    Information overload is a creature that has been growing on the Internet’s back since its beginnings. The bigger the Internet gets, the more information there is. The more quality information we see, the more we want to consume it. The more we want to consume it, the more overloaded we feel.

    This has to stop somewhere. And it can.

    As the year comes to a close, there’s no time like the present to make the overloading stop.

    But before I explain exactly what I mean, let’s discuss information overload in general.

    How Serious Is Information Overload?

    The sole fact that there’s more and more information published online every single day is not the actual problem. Only the quality information becomes the problem.

    This sounds kind of strange…but bear with me.

    When we see some half-baked blog posts we don’t even consider reading, we just skip to the next thing. But when we see something truly interesting — maybe even epic — we want to consume it.

    We even feel like we have to consume it. And that’s the real problem.

    No matter what topic we’re interested in, there are always hundreds of quality blogs publishing entries every single day (or every other day). Not to mention all the forums, message boards, social news sites, and so on.

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    The amount of epic content on the Internet these days is so big that it’s virtually impossible for us to digest it all. But we try anyway.

    That’s when we feel overloaded. If you’re not careful, one day you’ll find yourself reading the 15th blog post in a row on some nice WordPress tweaking techniques because you feel that for some reason, “you need to know this.”

    Information overload is a plague. There’s no vaccine, there’s no cure. The only thing you have is self-control.

    Luckily, you’re not on your own. There are some tips you can follow to protect yourself from information overload and, ultimately, fight it.

    But first, admit that information overload is really bad for you.

    Why Information Overload Is Bad for You

    Information overload stops you from taking action. That’s the biggest problem here.

    When you try to consume more and more information every day, you start to notice that even though you’ve been reading tons of articles, watching tons of videos and listening to tons of podcasts, the stream of incoming information seems to be infinite.

    Therefore, you convince yourself that you need to be on a constant lookout for new information if you want to be able to accomplish anything in your life, work and/or passion. The final result is that you are consuming way too much information, and taking way too little action because you don’t have enough time for it.

    The belief that you need to be on this constant lookout for information is just not true.

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    You don’t need every piece of advice possible to live your life, do your work or enjoy your passion.

    How to Stop Information Overload (And Start to Achieve More)

    So how to recognize the portion of information that you really need? Start with setting goals.

    1. Set Your Goals

    If you don’t have your goals put in place, you’ll be just running around grabbing every possible advice and thinking that it’s “just what you’ve been looking for.”

    Setting goals is a much more profound task than just a way to get rid of information overload. Now by “goals” I don’t mean things like “get rich, have kids, and live a good life”. I mean something much more within your immediate grasp. Something that can be achieved in the near future — like within a month (or a year) at most.

    Basically, something that you want to attract to your life, and you already have some plan on how you’re going to make it happen. So no hopes and dreams, just actionable, precise goals.

    Then once you have your goals, they become a set of strategies and tactics you need to act upon.

    2. Know What to Skip When Facing New Information

    Once you have your goals, plans, strategies and tasks, you can use them to decide what information is really crucial.

    First of all, if the information you’re about to read has nothing to do with your current goals and plans, then skip it. You don’t need it.

    If it does, then ask yourself these questions:

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    • Will you be able to put this information into action immediately?
    • Does it have the potential to maybe alter your nearest actions/tasks?
    • Is it so incredible that you absolutely need to take action on it right away?

    If the information is not actionable in a day or two, then skip it.

    (You’ll forget about it anyway.)

    And that’s basically it. Digest only what can be used immediately. If you have a task that you need to do, consume only the information necessary for getting this one task done, nothing more.

    You need to be focused in order to have clear judgment, and be able to decide whether some piece of information is mandatory or redundant.

    Self-control comes handy too. It’s quite easy to convince yourself that you really need something just because of poor self-control. Try to fight this temptation, and be as ruthless about it as possible – if the information is not matching your goals and plans, and you can’t take action on it in the near future, then SKIP IT.

    3. Be Aware of the Minimal Effective Dose

    There’s a thing called the MED – Minimal Effective Dose. I was first introduced to this idea by Tim Ferriss. In his book The 4-Hour BodyTim illustrates the minimal effective dose by talking about medical drugs.

    Everybody knows that every pill has a MED, and after that specific dose, no other positive effects occur, only some negative side effects if you overdose big.

    Consuming information is somewhat similar. You need just a precise amount of it to help you to achieve your goals and put your plans into life.

    Everything more than that amount won’t improve your results any further. And if you try to consume too much of it, it will eventually stop you from taking any action altogether.

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    4. Don’t Procrastinate by Consuming More Information

    Probably one of the most common causes of consuming ridiculous amounts of information is the need to procrastinate. By reading yet another article, we often feel that we are indeed working, and that we’re doing something good – we’re learning, which in result will make us a more complete and educated person.

    This is just self-deception. The truth is we’re simply procrastinating. We don’t feel like doing what really needs to be done – the important stuff – so instead we find something else, and convince ourselves that “that thing” is equally important. Which is just not true.

    Don’t consume information just for the sake of it. It gets you nowhere.

    The focus of this article is not on how to stop procrastinating, but if you’re having such issue, I recommend you read this:

    Procrastination – A Step-By-Step Guide to Stop Procrastinating

    Summing It Up

    As you can see, information overload can be a real problem and it can have a sever impact on your productivity and overall performance.

    I know I have had my share of problems with it (and probably still have from time to time). But creating this simple set of rules helps me to fight it, and to keep my lizard brain from taking over.

    I hope it helps you too, especially as we head into a new year with a new chance at setting ourselves up for success.

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    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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