Category Archives: Relaxation tools

Take a ZEN BREAK!

 

So you are using self-awareness and you find yourself stressed out at work. What do you do?!

Take a ZEN BREAK!

Recharge yourself. Stop what you are doing. Forget about work and allow yourself to just breathe. Throw on your headphones and link to some extremely relaxing meditation music here.

When you are stressed out, you won’t think straight or being efficient anyway. Your mind and body are hijacked by your amygdala and by coritsol and in this state the thinking part of your brain is shut off. You can’t digest your food properly and blood flow is going out to your muscles to help you run away from the proverbial tiger.

Stopping to take a “Zen Break”, even for 5 minutes, can build resilience and help you refocus your energy. Your creative juices will flow and you may find solutions when you thought there were none.

© Regina Zopf MD 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Regina Zopf MD with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Accessing this site means you agree to the disclaimer that can be read here.

Trying to change a habit? You might want to start chanting OHMMMM…. first

That’s right, a very interesting study by Judson Brewer and Colleagues out of Yale published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Science in 2011 evaluated whole brain activity and showed that the way people think in about 50% of our waking life is different than the way people that meditate think.

This habitual “mode” of thinking is called the Default Mode Network. You could also equate this to “mind-wandering” or the habitual thinking patterns that many of us have. This is basically the way you think when you are on “auto-pilot” and not completely involved in the activity at hand. Incidentally, these thinking patterns are also associated with unhappiness. They tend to be negative thoughts  with you existing as the sun at the center of the universe. This type of thinking is often focused on anxieties and ruminations about the past, or the future. Habitual thinking…just thinking about it makes me want to scarf down some chocolate to make myself feel better!

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On the other hand, people who meditate have a different Default Mode Network. Their brains fire differently even in every day life. They tend to be more focused on the present moment and are less self-referential, instead understanding that they are a part of a greater whole. And yes, less of the “mind-wandering” is actually associated with happiness and less negative thinking. In addition to personal motivation positive thinking is one of the most predictive factors predicting success related to changing behaviors.

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So happiness is the silver lining related to changing this habitual thinking. If you want to change what tends to be an impulsive, or compulsive, out of control behavior, like emotional eating, loafing, shopping too much, or even if you just want to stop that anxiety provoking negative thinking, you might want to try meditating first. Even  5-10 minutes a day is a great start o break the patterns of habitual thinking. The benefits continue beyond the time you meditate.

Want to break that habitual thinking?

Here are some websites that can guide you through meditation:

UCLA Semel Institute in Mindfulness Research: Guided meditations: http://marc.ucla.edu/body.cfm?id=22

Insight Meditation of Massachusetts guided meditation: http://www.dharma.org/resources/audio#guided

Interested in positive thinking? Check out your positivity ratio on this website

http://www.positivityratio.com/single.php