Archive for We’re All Human

When Social Media Meets Depression

socialnetworkoverload

“Its not the same!” Her face was flush with anxiety and disappointment. Gwen's mother put her arm around her sobbing daughter.  It was an all-night cry fest and there was no way fix it.  The tears flowed freely like a dam that had ruptured from heartache.

“Have you talked to Tim about it yet?” Usually her mother's voice was soothing in times of great distress. Today wasn't one of those days.  Gwen buried her face deeper into her mom's shoulder try to quell some of the pain.

“No mom,” she replied. “How do you start that conversation? Gee, I was taking a closer look and it looked funny so I-”

“Okay, okay.” The hysterics were getting so bad, Gwen's mom had to deploy advanced tactics, the pat and rub, on Gwen's back harking back to the days when she was an infant." 

“Well maybe it was a mistake. Maybe he was duped.”

“No, he wasn't” Gwen replied and began fiddling around in her pocket, producing a crumpled receipt in hand. She held it up to her mother's face while keeping her head buried.

Gwen's mom quickly scanned the line items on the piece of paper. Yup, he knew. Time had tried to pull a fast one.  Gwen's engagement ring was a cubic zirconia. This was going to be a long night.

THE REAL DEAL 

Your friends list is stacked.  You have hundreds of people on it from close relatives to old high school buddies.  You know that Franny had a baby last week, George got pulled over for speeding and Helena broke up with Stan. And you didn't even have to talk to them. You are all up to date on the people in your life. So why do you feel so lonely? Because reading a post or a tweet isn't the same as actually seeing someone, that's why. 

Social Media Depression is the new way researchers are describing the ill affects of spending too much time online as opposed to connecting with other people in real life. The University of Michigan decided to take a look at this phenomenon and see if self described Facebook addicts were suffering from bouts of depression. It was comprised of 82 people (all in their late teens to early twenties). They were watched for two straight weeks and had to report in five times a day to the researchers.

The study found that those who actually talked on the phone or met with their contacts in person always scored more positive than those who used Facebook for their primary source of information and social contact. In other words, the more they got away from their computer, the better they felt mentally! Dr. Ethan Kross, head researcher for the study, concluded that, in his opinion, Facebook hindered mental well-being.  

In support of this theory, Scientists at the Darmstadt's Technical Univeristy in Germany recently stumbled upon what they think is the root cause of social media depression – jealousy. 584 participants partook in the study. They observed people being jealous of everything from new jobs, new relationships, good looking photos and more!

Social media is good when you want to keep in touch with family and up to date with friends but studies like these show it is not a replacement for the real thing.

Social media is in its infancy when it comes to research. But already we can see that it may just be pretty on the outside and not very fulfilling on the inside. So go call your mother and tell her you love her instead of posting it. I bet it may just make you both smile. 

Perfect Imperfection

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I ran through the terminal as fast as I could while pulling a carry-on behind me.  The voice over the loud speaker taunted me again.  “Last call for Flight 2356 to Dallas-Fort Worth.”  I searched the terminal gate numbers ahead of me as I ran.  Ten gates to go.  I cursed myself, morning traffic, the people crowding between me and my terminal gate…and then I silently prayed.

I am late to, well, almost everything.  I’ve missed more things than I care to admit – including family dinners, church on Sunday morning, the previews to most every movie I’ve ever gone to see at the theater (and the previews are kind of my favorite part)…and flights.  I’m not perfect.  Neither is my life.

My moderately new car smells like a mixture of Peppermint Mochas and my gym bag already.  The "inexpensive" vacuum I bought six months ago has cost me twice what I paid for it at the repair shop.  And I have this one friend who, every time I see her name show up on my phone, I know she’s calling to discuss the latest trauma-drama she’s got going on.  I also know she’s going to ask for my advice…and not take it.  Again.

I used to let things like these get to me.  I’d get frustrated, disappointed, and sometimes even mad.  I’m pretty sure you could a list that rivals mine.  You likely have people and things that regularly have you in knots – monopolizing your time, energy, and thoughts.  Stressing you out.

Ironically, those people and those things gave you fair warning.  If you really think about it, you probably should have expected it, right?  I mean…let's face it; I’ve been late to 75% of everything in my life.   Why would I think that’s going to change?  My car isn’t going to stay new or clean forever…and I do drink (and spill) a lot of Peppermint Mochas.  At least it helps mask the gym bag smell.  I bought a piece of crap vacuum.  An expensive death was inevitable (as was a new vacuum).

Why should I be disappointed by the things I realistically should expect?   The reality is that most people are consistent in their behaviors – either consistently dependable, consistently dreadful, or consistently…well… inconsistent.  One example, my brother remembers my birthday a week late every year.  It has nothing to do with how much he loves me.  He just sucks at remembering things and still hasn’t joined the rest of us in the twenty-first century (he swore off smart phones) so there’s no app to set up reminders for him.  I’ve accepted it.  I don’t let it disappoint me anymore.

In life, you have to just get real about things.  Expect the expected.  Unrealistic expectations are a guaranteed way to crank up stress levels and your frustration.  

You can expect that things will break down the day you need them most (my oven died on Thanksgiving Day.  No joke.).  You can expect that your three year old will use a bright red Sharpie (that you still aren’t sure how he got his hands on) to practice writing his ABCs with on your stunning "guests only" white sofa.  It’s a toddler thing.   That’s what they do.  When I have a houseful of teens, I can expect that they will raid my fridge and my favorite snack will be MIA when I want it until I make a grocery run.  I can also expect a group wrestling match in my living room floor (I have boys) and music at a decibel level that makes me glad my neighbors are half a mile away.  If it’s happened before, it’s predictable and pretty realistic based on previous occurrences, so, when it happens…sit back and relax.  You kinda saw it coming.

The first line of the book The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck says this: "Life is difficult."  I remember reading that for the first time and thinking what a terrible way to start a book!  I’m a glass-is-completely-full kind of girl, so this line irritated me a little.  Okay…it irritated me a LOT.  But I came to realize what Peck was trying to say is if we expect life is going to be difficult, we’ll be prepared to cope with its challenges, and be more likely to enjoy the roller coaster ride.

So, accept that problems are going to happen.  Accept you’re going to miss flights, have your couch double as a white board, and get cutoff in rush hour traffic.  When we take into account the predictable, when we expect life to be imperfect, when we have realistically expectations, then we train ourselves to take every collision life hits us with in stride.   And when we can do that, we can exist with a higher level of happiness.

So set your expectations for perfect imperfection. This is life. There's something around every corner. Enjoy the ride.

 

Why I Don’t Make Resolutions

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Failure. 

The word echoed around in my head as if it had no canyon to fade away into.  I was a failure. 

Again.

I remember it like it was yesterday.  It was March 31st.  Day 90 was marked on my calendar in big, bright red letters.  It was the day I was supposed to have completed a 90 day challenge.  The day I should have been able to look at myself in the mirror and see the results of my New Year’s Resolution, a “new” me. Instead, all I saw was the old me…and then some.

I beat myself up mentally for weeks.  Then one day, while I was sitting in church, it hit me.  Yes, church.  In the middle of April.  The sermon had nothing to do with fitness or being healthier (though my pastor has discussed that on occasion because he’s kind of addicted to Bojangles fried chicken).  No, the epiphany came from these words: “I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize.”  (It’s Philippians 3:13-14 – I won’t lie, I had to Google it because all I really remembered were the words.)  And whether you have any religious thoughts or not, these words ring true. 

After I had “failed” at achieving my objective, these words made me realize I hadn’t really taken a hold of what I wanted to accomplish in the first place.  It was time I forgot what was behind me, forgot about the things I hadn’t completed, and press forward.  I didn’t need a new year to set a goal and accomplish it. I simply needed to be truly committed to “win the prize.”

These resolutions that we promise to commit to every year are meant to make us feel better about ourselves and improve ourselves.  And yes, there’s something about a New Year that gives us the feeling of a fresh start. But is there really a difference between Dec 31st and Jan 1st?

Nothing magical happens at midnight on New Year’s Eve to make us miraculously change.  So many New Year’s resolutions are often just a wish list…something we’d like to change about our lives, but little more.  It’s awesome that we want to devote ourselves to improving something in our lives, but have you ever ask yourself why it’s so hard to keep resolutions?  Maybe it’s because our resolutions aren’t realistic, or maybe it’s because we don’t have a logical plan for reaching them.  We aren’t prepared to press forward.  What I’ve learned is that it doesn’t matter what day of the year it is, when you’re ready to make a change, you make a plan and you make it work.

Here are a few tips to help you make a plan that a year from now will have changed your life, instead of something you’ve forgotten by the end of January.

   Be realistic. It’s easy to make pipe dream resolutions.  We get carried away.  But look back at what you’ve been able to achieve in the past and use that as a guide.  Don't say "I'm going to run a marathon," when you’ve barely ran down your driveway to get the mail. If you do, you’re just going to quit once you realize how high you’ve set your goals.  Start your plan to reach goals at intervals and go from there.

Make change about you and not a number or event. Don’t target something like an event or X number of pounds as part of your plan; instead make the ultimate goal to change your behavior.  So if something happens (as life often shows us can) and you’re unable to participate in your event, you still have your goal in place…to change YOU, not just run in some race.  There will be plenty of events to participate in. 

Plan!!! Let’s face it, statistics can’t always be trusted…especially ones about New Year’s resolutions since they are very likely skewed by the likes of those last minute resolutionists (the ones who swear to quit drinking ten tequila shots into New Year’s Eve). Planning ahead allows you to make a plan based on what you know you’re capable of.

Allow some backsliding. No one is perfect.  It’s unrealistic to think you’re going make it through your entire plan without a single hitch.  A plan that doesn’t leave room for slip-ups is already designed to fail.  Mistakes are part of life.  When you slip, pick yourself up, dust off and get back at it.     

Change your mind set. The mind is a powerful thing.  Re-program yours to focus on the positive effects your plan will have on your life.  Instead of thinking of how much you miss that extra hour of sleep in the morning, focus on how getting some exercise is going to make you feel better and make you healthier.  

Achieving goals isn’t about what happened in the past, it’s not about the times you’ve fallen…it’s about the times you’ve gotten back up when you did.  Remember the ultimate goal.  It’s about moving forward, and it doesn’t matter if it’s January 1st or April 23rd.  Because what is failure anyway?  If you’re moving forward, you’re improving…just not as fast as you had planned, and that's not really a failure at all. Is it?

 

Life Just Blew You Up – And You’re Still Alive

life just blew you up

When she was just a baby, I had wished she was a bit older so we didn't have to wake up at all hours of the night to feed her. When she was just a toddler, I counted the days the diapers would be a thing of the past.

Every day I seemed to wish my little girl older. And older she got.  Soon she was in full time school and knew it all.

Now, as we stared at each other in the kitchen, her eyes staring up at me with obvious questions, I longed for the days when she was a baby once again.  Gone were the days where the three of us did things as a family. The “first time” she saw a snow fall or rode her bike without help. Those moments would no longer be shared.

“Well, baby. Sometimes mom's and dad's live apart.” I was stumbling to find the words. What was I supposed to do, tell her how I really felt about the soon to be ex?

“Why?,” was her response. At five years old,  they always seem to ask that question, don't they? As she waited for my response, I could notice a tinge of fear in her big, blue eyes. The fear that she was going to lose one or both of us. Her world had been shredded, torn apart, stomped on and turned upside down.

My mouth ran dry with words for a few seconds but my mind continued to search for the answers.  It was so much simpler changing diapers, I thought to myself.

There are times in our lives when we get hit with the worst type of pain and loss. We lose loved ones, suffer through a terrible break-up, get laid off from our jobs or some other horrifying event. You get the idea. You been there at one point or another and probably will feel that pain again. Its just a fact of life. There are no ways to block the emotional trauma but there are ways to ease it and help your mind (and body) dust themselves off a little quicker and get moving again.

  • Its Okay To Cry – Tears are our bodies way of signaling extreme pain, whether its physical or emotional. In fact, your tears are made up of different things, depending on why your “crying!” If your tired or merely yawning to lubricate the eye, its a different composition than when we are hurt. So let it out. It is definitely alright to grieve and grieve hard for a while.
  • Friends Are A Great Remedy – Especially after a major life event for the worse.  Your best friend since the third grade. The buddy who disappeared after college. Anyone who knows you pretty well and is truly your “friend” is going to be there for you during a troubled time. Don't box yourself in and become a hermit. A study done by the American Psychological Association showed that women in the study performed better during stress tests when they had a friend or pet in the room as opposed to being alone. So make a call. They'd love to hear from you! 
  • Seven Steps To The Promised Land – Its going to be a roller coaster ride getting back on your feet. It helps to know where in the grieving process you actually are. Once you find out where your mind “stands” you can work toward the next stage. Shock, denial, bargaining, guilt, anger, depression and ACCEPTANCE (otherwise known as the Promised Land).  One way to get to there faster is to write down how you feel. It could be stories, poetry or just nonsense, if its how you feel, its HOW YOU FEEL. Then you can look back and see easier what stage your currently residing in. Scientists have long believed “expressive writing” is an excellent way to move through the process.

Life is going to throw grenades at you and some bombs hurt more than others but its some of our darkest days that teach us the most about who are are. In life, when I've just taken a big shot to the chin and I can feel myself reeling from the blow, a saying goes through my mind that helps me right the ship.

“Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean and nasty place, and I don’t care how tough you are, it will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently if you let it. You, me, or nobody is gonna hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward; how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” - Rocky Balboa

Training Your Brain to Stay on Task

Training Your Brain to Stay on Task

Al's attention span is terrible, and he knows it. Problem is, every time he decides to look up a method of improving his concentration, he gets distracted by something else, and before he realizes it an hour has passed and he's totally forgotten why he opened his laptop in the first place.

Life is a series of distractions for him, and it affects his work, his family, his relationship with his wife, and every other aspect of his life. There's just so much to do and see - stuff on TV, people posting things on Facebook and Twitter, silly pictures on the internet,limited-time free eBooks, breaking news on CNN...wait, what were we talking about again?

Research showed that 2013 is the year the human attention span finally sunk below that of the Goldfish - eight seconds for us, nine seconds for the fish. We're distracted and easily bored, and anything that takes longer than a few minutes is almost painful. Heck, 7% of the population forgets their birthdays. How could we be expected to remember when - HEY, MY PHONE JUST BEEPED AND CHECK OUT THIS CAT PICTURE!

Chances are, you're suffering from a decline in your ability to concentrate and stay on task. This type of cognitive decline begins in your 20s, and is probably made worse by all the fantastic tech tools we have at our disposal.

It's embarrassing, but fret not: our tiny attention spans can be rebuilt. One group of researchers has done just that in a group of elderly folks, using a tool that many blame for our distracted nature - video games.

Dr. Adam Gazzaley at the University of California-San Francisco placed 50 subjects from ages 60-85 in front of a computer game called NeuroRacer. The game requires players to multitask while paying attention to a number of actions, such as driving a car, stopping at a red light, turning, etc. Each participant played the game for 12 hours over the course of a month, with a couple sessions requiring them to sport an electroencephalograph cap that measured brain activity.

The result? The participants showed strong ability to stay on task, with significantly increased activity in the prefrontal cortex, the cognitive control center of the body. In other words, distraction is a curable problem for many of us.

While we can't all rush out and play our own copies of NeuroRacer yet, we can train our brains. Try these four easy ideas and see if your ability to focus doesn't improve:

Meditate- One of the many, many benefits of meditation is brain control, and being able to focus your attention in very specific directions. Like any type of training, it requires practice.

Use technology - If you just can't stop yourself from checking email or Facebook, there are tech tools that allow you to block these sites for however long you need to be productive. Check out tinyFilter for Chrome or LeechBlock for Firefox.

Sleep - Not getting enough quality shut-eye can be a major cause for ADHD-like symptoms. Create a routine that allows you at least eight hours of interrupted sleep a night, and consult a physician if your sleep isn't restful.

Don't do it all at once - Put a clock to yourself to stay on task for 25 minutes (also known as the Pomodoro Technique). Then, spend a few minutes moving around - you can even check things on your phone while walking! - then dial back in.

With a little bit of effort, and perhaps eventually a handy video game to play, we can keep ourselves on track and not lose focus on the task at hand, like Al.

Wait, who was Al again?

What do you do to stay on task and eliminate distractions? Sound off in the comments and let us know!

The Open Door or Obstacles? You Decide

The open door or obstacles

She stood there staring at me.  That all too familiar motherly look on her face.  Waiting for an answer.

 I had a choice to make.  I had been facing unexplainable weight gain (60 pounds in just the first two months) and a faint red rash over my entire body that made me want to claw my skin off like something from a Stephen King novel.  Over the six months following the weight gain, I saw several doctors, many of them specialists, and no one could seem to pinpoint the cause.  They could tell me what my body was doing, just not why

 By an act of chance, I found myself having a conversation with a chiropractor one day.  Long story short, after an x-ray the source of my issues was revealed.  After a few visits, the rash was gone and I was facing the road to losing close to 80 pounds.  I admit, I had always been pretty lucky in the fact that as long as I walked a couple of miles 2-3 times a week, maintaining my weight had been easy.  That wasn't going to get rid of 80 pounds though.  I had no idea how I was going rearrange my crazy, busy life enough to fit in an exercise plan.  And yes, I was whining about it . . . to my mother.  Don’t judge.

 “Well, what’s it going to be?”  She raised a stern eyebrow.  “The open door or the obstacles?”

 It was a question I've heard many times over the years.  You see, when I was teenager my mother liked to use Bible verses to teach me lessons.  This time, she was referring to the verse “For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries.”  She’s condensed it down over time to one-liners to remind me of whatever lesson I’m sure she hopes she’s embedded into my psyche.  

 On this particular day, I chose the open door. 

 We all face the obstacles our busy lives present to us and it can be very difficult to find time for fitness. There are things we can do to make it easier for ourselves though.  Here are a few things I've learned that can help.

  1. Make your fitness routine fit your current lifestyle and schedule.  If you have a family you need to spend time with, make it a family affair.  Go for walks together or ride bikes with your kids.  If you’re a super busy executive who keeps an appointment book, put it in your planner as if it’s a client you can’t break a meeting with.  No matter what your lifestyle, find what works for you and you’ll be more likely to stay the course.
  2. Master the art of multitasking.  I work from home these days and sometimes feel guilty about going to the gym in the middle of the day, so I've found ways to multitask. While driving to my workout I return calls or, while I’m on the treadmill, I check emails on my tablet.  I have a friend who combines a trip to the grocery store with spending time with her son and gets her exercise in all in one swoop, just by taking her backpack and riding her bike to the store instead of driving.
  3. Make fitness a priority, not just a possibility.  Growing up, my mom worked three jobs, ran a household and raised two children on her own, but still found time to ride her exercise bike and go to aerobics class in the midst of it all (yes, aerobics classes – the birthplace of leotards and leg warmers).  She made staying fit a must and today, at 65, she still mows her own lawn – with a push mower, because riding mowers “butcher your yard.”

It’s not always easy, but it is possible.  You’re going to face obstacles, and some days the obstacles will get the better of you.  When they do, don’t let it keep you down.  The key is to keep walking back through the open door.  

Feeling S.A.D? – The Answer Is In The Light

Feeling SAD Light

The darkness consumed him. Everywhere he turned there it was. No matter where Timmy looked, there was nothing but pitch black. He slowly put one foot in front of the other, not sure what, if anything was before him on the ground.

 His heart raced. And the young boy's mind wondered about all the scary things that could be beyond the shadows.  It was not fair that his parents had taken away his nightlight. “You're too old for it now” they had said. So every night he would wake up to the sound of the old house creaking or “settling” as his dad called it.

 As Timmy turned to go back to his bed, he heard something crack in the closet on the other side of the bedroom. That was it, he screamed in his own head as loud as his eight year old brain could muster and fumbled to the side wall for the light switch. 

 His fingers fumbled around until finally they came across it and he quickly flicked on the power. The bedroom illuminated in warm 60 watt goodness, bringing a smile to Timmy's face and scaring away all the nasty things that hid in the dark.

You're not different. You're not alone. Depression comes in many forms and with many factors. One such affliction that many people have to deal with actually has to do with the changing of seasons.

Its a tougher time in the morning to get ready for work. Its yawning just after dinner. Its being generally grumpier or depressed for no particular reason. Yup, welcome to “not-so-wonderful” world of S.A.D.(Seasonal Affective Disorder). Being S.A.D. truly does bite.

Depression is no laughing matter. Being S.A.D makes it worse. But you don't have to give in to those awful feelings. Here's a few tips to fight back and reclaim your emotional health:

I bought a light box.  Remember the movie “Insomnia” with Al Pacino and Robin Williams? It took place in Alaska at a time when the sun never went down, driving people mad. Now I can have that problem too with my light box (kidding). Research has shown that light therapy boxes do work (according to the Mayo Clinic ). As little as twenty minutes a day of extra light can really boost your mood and overall health!

So what exactly is a light box? Its a special lamp that creates a synthetic sunlight without all the harmful side effects (sorry, no tanning here). Here is the link to the company I ordered mine from and their user's guide.

Slow down on the drinks.  It goes without saying that alcohol and normal bouts of depression are a country singer's dream but cutting back on the after work drinks really can boost your mood. Too much alcohol coupled with S.A.D has shown to be a disastrous combo. According to research from the University of Rochester Medical Center, alcoholism can be a big factor in this condition.

Exercise your brain. It might be harder to take that early morning jog when there's five feet of snow on the ground ( that doesn't mean you shouldn't try) but there is no excuse to leave your most important “muscle” unenthused about the day. Crossword puzzles, impromptu games of chess, reading instead of television. Check out a recent article from Men's Fitness with their findings! There are a million ways to work out your brain! It will make you feel a whole lot better! Plus you'll be smarter for it (and who doesn't want that?).

So this is going to be an awful pun but don't be S.A.D. Try tips like these. Look outside right now. Is it dark? It is? Good! Now smile. You're worth fighting for!

Balancing Act: 4 Tips to a Busy Schedule Balanced Diet

Balancing Act

Karen sat staring at the computer screen, her mind preoccupied with a dozen things at once.  When I asked what she had planned for lunch, her eyes watered as she looked up at me.  I was certain she was going to burst into tears and fall face down onto her desk sobbing.  She held it together and responded, “Lunch?  I didn't have time to grab anything this morning.”

Over salads at the deli across the street, she opened up about feeling overwhelmed.  Between kids, a husband, and a demanding job she was already a busy woman.  Then she added trying to lose weight to the equation – she was struggling to find a balance that would allow her to eat healthy without taking up time that was already scarce.

Sound familiar?

If so, you aren't alone.  In today’s fast-paced world, we can all use a little help to keep us on track nutritionally and do so in a way that brings a little balance to our crazy schedules.  Here are a few tips for doing just that.

  1. Be the grocery run master, not puppet.  Don’t go when you’re starved. Everything that isn't good for you, but you love, will find its way mysteriously into your cart and before you know it, you’re buying 10 snack packs of KitKat’s for $10. Take a list and make the produce section your first stop.  Remember, the outside perimeter of the store is always your best/healthiest bet.  That’s where the fruits, veggies, poultry and low-fat dairy are found.
  2. Cook ahead for the week. Make enough during your meals on Saturday and Sunday to have leftovers for the first few days of the week. Bake a pan of chicken breast, grill/sauté extra veggies, cook a pot of stew.  While you're at it, wash and prepare a few containers of lettuce and your favorite fixings for salads. Possibilities are only limited to your imagination (and taste buds).  Pre-pack your snacks, too.
  3. Be beverage brilliant . . . and green at the same time.  Instead of going through plastic bottles and watching them pile up on your desk, get yourself a refillable water bottle.  It will also help you avoid calories you don’t think about adding up that sneak their way into your diet in the form of liquids like juice, sports drinks, soda, flavored teas and more.
  4. Don’t jump on the fad train.  With all the new diets, food crazes, and "miracle" supplements popping up, it's easy to feel confused about your choices. If your plan is working, stay the course. If you want to try something different, it's a free country, but don't leap on the latest bandwagon just because your coworkers are all talking about it at the water cooler. Do your homework. Or cheat off the geek’s homework and see what supplements the RTH Geeks have researched to the nth degree and recommend.

Slow Down To Get More Done – Weird, Right??

stress

One zombie. Not too bad, Derrick thought as he peeked around the corner of the office building. One of those things wasn't hard to get around. He crouched down and began moving from cubicle to cubicle, the sound of the zombie's moans ringing through his ears.

 If Derrick could just make it to the street, all would be okay. He had spotted his manager's car from the roof and found the keys in his office, so now it was just time to get in that baby and hightail it out of there.

 As he made his way to the door, his foot slipped on a few papers littering the ground causing Derrick to stumble into a cubicle wall. The zombie immediately stopped it's moaning and turned like a gopher toward the noise.

 “That's not good.” Derrick became angry at himself he hadn't focused on getting out of the building instead daydreaming about escaping to safety in his boss's Camaro. No sooner did he pop back up to his feet, the office door burst open and another zombie made it's way into the room. And soon another.

 He had drawn their attention. Now the scared young man was facing three ungodly zombies instead of one. His mind raced in obvious panic. It was time to make a bolt for the door!

 Derrick picked up a stapler off of the desk near him and threw it across the office. The three zombies began to shuffle toward the clanking it caused. Through the office doors he bolted, making his way down the stairs, faster than his feet had ever moved before.

 His eyes lit up in delight as he made his way to the lobby and the entrance to the street. The car was now only fifty feet away. As he ran, Derrick pulled the keys from his pocket and began fidgeting for the right key, his vision locked onto the item in his hand.

 The glass lobby windows in front of him shattered, causing derrick to jump back in fright, dropping the keys in the process. He looked up, noticing dozens of zombies making their way into the lobby. Derrick's face covered in despair. Too many to handle and his scattered brain had gotten the best of him. He desperately looked around for the keys as the ever growing horde made their way towards him.

FOCUS ON THE TASK AT HAND OR YOU TOO WILL FEEL OVERRUN

Sound familiar? We all have a hundred things to do and not enough time in which to do them. But is it really that we have sooooo much to do or are we taking on more than we should at any given moment? How much of our time and productivity is compromised by the idea that we can do it all?

Americans are proud of our multitasking abilities. We pride ourselves on being some of the hardest workers, doer's, and shakers in the world. But as we become more “productive” at home or work, our nation's health has went down the proverbial drain. Heart attacks, strokes, overuse of alcohol, cigarettes, junk food, you name it. Stress induced behaviors to the core.

So how can you combat the urge to overwork ourselves?

Start with clearing your mind and DOING ONE THING AT A TIME. Sure, we all have massive to-do lists but jumping between tasks is more stressful than you may imagine. Our brains need adjustment time between tasks in order to focus properly.

Your brain is uber-powerful, no doubt. I believe it! But no matter how supped up our brains are, they are all built kind of the same. We can only handle so much.

TIME MANAGEMENT TIPS

 

  • Arrange your tasks by importance for the day. Is shoe shopping more important than finishing that report for the boss?
  • Estimate the time of completion to do each task. Put it in parentheses next to the task.
  • When something new pops up (which, yes, they always do) treat 'em like Netflix and put 'em on your cue. AT THE BOTTOM until you see fit to rearrange your cue the next time you shuffle it around. Obviously emergencies take precedent.

Scrap multitasking in favor of a time management style and your stress levels will almost surely go down. Use your brain the way it was built and you'll maximize results and minimize wanting to pull all your hair out of your scalp.

How do you manage your time? Sound off in the comments. We want to hear from you!

How to Use Your Smartphone to Break Location-Based Habits

breaking-bad-habits

 Bart wanted to smoke so badly. He daydreamed about it at work and decided to stop at the local gas station on the way home and pick up a pack. He could taste the cigarettes as he stepped out of the car, and he was already feeling a bit of the buzz he gets on the first smoke of the day.

Then he felt a different buzz. From his pocket. His iPhone.

He pulled it out. On the screen was a simple note from his Reminders:

It Isn’t Worth It! Behind the notification, a picture of his kids, aged 12 and 9.

Bart stopped. Paused. Then got back in his car, drove home, and hugged his kids. His three month streak of smokelessness was still intact, thanks to a simple trick on his smartphone.

There are over a billion smartphones in the world. They're incredibly useful. Think of all the devices a smartphone can replace - camera, video camera, calculator, pedometer, PDA (remember those?), television (for many), stereo, compass, voice recorder, and so on.

They're also incredibly addictive. 70% of Americans keep their smartphones within five feet at all times. 55% use them while driving, 33% while on a dinner date, and 35% use them in movie theaters. 20% of young adults confess to using them during sex.

Yep.

So why not use them to help yourself reinforce good habits? For many of us, our habits have a place. Where we buy tobacco or booze, where an extramarital affair occurs, or the fast food joint with the great cheap burgers. Most smartphones have GPS functionality built in, and you can use that to set alerts that will remind you to keep on driving if you near your location triggers.

The trick Bart used is built into most iPhones, in the Reminders app. No extra charges or downloads are involved - the app will be installed from the first time you fire the phone up.

It’s a fairly simple trick to set up. First, start a new reminder by pressing the + button on the top right. Then give it a name, and think of what you would want to be told in a moment of weakness. Bart’s was “It Isn’t Worth It!” Your’s may be “You deserve better,” or “This will kill you!”

Sounds dramatic, but you’ll need a stark reminder as you head into that bar or ex-boyfriend’s home.

Next, tap the > arrow on the right. Then slide “Remind Me At a Location” to “On” and “When I Arrive.” Enter the address of the place you need to avoid, and you're done. Every time you go near that place your phone will buzz, beep and flash the message at you.

If you don’t have an iPhone, don’t fret. There are plenty of free apps that feature location-based reminders. If you have an Android phone, Google Now (here’s a nice tutorial). For Windows phones, download Location Reminder.

One final tip: Give yourself some extra motivation by setting your background and lock screens to photos of what makes you want to break the habit, whether it’s your family or even that boat you’re trying to save up for.

It’s a simple trick that works for Bart, and it can work for you. What other technological tips do you have that can help break a bad habit? Sound off in the comments!