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Six ways to shift your brain from work to home

 

 

The 21st century lifestyle leaves us with little room for unwinding and taking time for ourselves.  Whether it be rushing after work to pick up the kids, trying get a healthy dinner on the table, being stuck in a late night meeting, attending a mid-week soccer game, or volunteering at a school function, we lead busy and hectic lives.  Somehow our definition of “busy” has transformed our sense of self-worth to make our lives analogous with action items. As a society, we wear our badges of busyness with pride as if it equates with productivity.  Over time this hustle and bustle leaves us drained, scatter brained, and downright grumpy.  How can we change from the multi-tasking, buzzing mind to a zen state at home?  It begins with making the choice to be present in the moment and let go.  Easier said than done.  Letting go of our thoughts, our running stories and our overflow of emotions that are the basis of survival seems impossible when we live on autopilot.  Life flies by us and we have little or no comprehension of all of the stimuli, emotions and stories we carry day in and day out.  But by making some simple conscious choices, your home can become your sanctuary.

Here are six simple tips that science says will help you get your mind to unwind, transition from work and activity, to bask in the retreat of your home and your loved ones.  

 

  1. Practice gratitude.  The power of gratitude allows the brain to slow down and soak in the positive aspects of our lives. Neuroscience evidence shows that individuals who are thankful are happier, have better health and lower inflammation throughout their body.  

  2. Power down. Shut off your phone and let it sit in a drawer until dinner is over. If you can leave it off for the remainder of the evening, even better!  Without all the stimulation from emails, texts, and social media updates, you can absorb your environment and live in the present moment.  Studies report that overstimulation from our devices can lead to feeling drained, stressed, and overwhelmed.  Additionally, the light from electronics falsely stimulates the brain, telling us that it is daytime, which increases the difficulty of falling into a deep and restful sleep.  Give your brain and eyes a break — they will thank you for catching a few extra Zs.

  3. Listen to sounds of nature.  Neuroscientists found that listening to “green” sounds, sounds of nature, increases relaxation of mind and body by activating the parasympathetic nervous system, reducing the heart rate, stress hormones, and anxiety.  Tranquil sounds, like a bird chirping or a running stream are restorative and good for calming your nervous system.

  4. Do something good for yourself.  Whether it may be listening to your favorite song, dancing, reading a book, taking a walk, exercising, do it for yourself.  Studies show that giving yourself small rewards release dopamine, the neurotransmitter responsible for reward, creating good feelings.  

  5. Kick off your heels or take off your tie.  Transition from wearing your work clothes and put on your cozies.  Changing your clothes signals to your brain you are done for the day, and wearing loose-fitting, relaxing clothes reduces bodily tension.

  6. Share your highs and lows.  Evidence shows that active listening and communication increases quality of life, wellness, and social bonding.  Family members have a multitude of experiences throughout the day, sharing the highs and lows with one another allows you and your family to connect with one another by giving emotional and mental support.

 

Now it’s time to kick back and enjoy the retreat of your home and loved ones!

 

References

 

Emmons RA, McCullough ME. Counting blessings versus burdens: an experimental

investigation of gratitude and subjective well-being in daily life. J Pers Soc

Psychol. 2003 Feb;84(2):377-89. PubMed PMID: 12585811.

 

Gould van Praag CD, Garfinkel SN, Sparasci O, Mees A, Philippides AO, Ware M,

Ottaviani C, Critchley HD. Mind-wandering and alterations to default mode network

connectivity when listening to naturalistic versus artificial sounds. Sci Rep.

2017 Mar 27;7:45273. doi: 10.1038/srep45273. PubMed PMID: 28345604; PubMed

Central PMCID: PMC5366899.

 

 

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