Week 4 of 6 Monday Morning Tools to clear your head and lift Your State of Mind
I hope you test drove Mindful Venting last week and got a lot out of it – let me know how it worked for you if you tried it out.
Issue # 4: Addicted to Multi-tasking. Cultures that reward those of us who look busy
Do you have a workplace culture where it’s not cool to actually be done, to be on top of things, to be calm and centred? Some workplaces fuel the ‘next job, run faster, there’s always something else to be done’ mindset. The question how are you? needs to be answered with “busy” or you’re just not going to fit in. In this culture we tend to be residing in ‘high Beta’ where our brainwaves are at a fast frequency (see a great summary here) and our body is pumping out adrenalin and cortisol, keeping us in that ‘always on’ state of mind. Simply put, it’s biochemically addictive and we are far less efficient than if we can stop switching between tasks and just give our full attention to one thing.
Tool # 4: Drop into the Alpha State – consciously choose to do 1 thing at a time
Doing 1 thing at a time requires discipline, but can bring great relief.
The alpha state has nothing to do with being an ‘alpha male’. It is about our capacity to choose to do one thing at a time and thereby drop into the slower alpha brainwave state that lets us focus, be more efficient and ultimately takes us to the creative brainwave states of theta/delta. When we stop (so-called) multi-tasking, we give our entire body a break, allowing the endorphins to flow when we put all our attention on the one thing right in front of us, whether a work task, a child or a chore at home. In your home life, what drops you into that beautiful alpha state? It might be gardening, golfing, reading, playing with your child or the simplest of tasks like washing up or cooking (unfortunately alcohol and TV don’t take us there!). You can see from these examples that one person’s alpha state activity can be another person’s nightmare. The invitation this week is to figure out the things that take you into that relaxed, single-point of focus and do more of them. Less multi-tasking, more of one thing at a time. Rebuilding this muscle is crucial in an age where we potentially have 3-4 devices distracting us at any one time, and a dozen different tasks that need our attention. Give yourself permission to drop into that one thing – being fully present to your child when you get home from work, your Mum when she calls for a catch up, that 1 report you know you should set aside time for, or that crucial work conversation you’ve been putting off. And notice both how fast the time flies (tax is a great example) and the subtle feeling of relaxation you get in your body, that thrill of pure, unadulterated focus. Miraculous!
One of my favourite ways to drop into the alpha state and become fully present is to sing in a choir. The neuroscience is in and workplace choirs are becoming a thing in both the US and the UK, with more and more evidence accruing as to the benefits of workplace choirs. While many of us were unfortunately told not to sing in the school choir, there are plenty of avenues where we can let rip, activating the vagus nerve that pumps out the endorphins. One of these avenues is at the monthly gatherings of the Feel Good Choir, and we have one this week on Thursday April 4th, 7-9pm at the Coogee Diggers. Join us if you’re in Sydney, to shut out all the noise and drop into the alpha state for 2 fabulous hours! If you’re like most of us, the alpha state muscle is one many of us need to rebuild.
Dr Samantha Graham’s programs give her clients the tools to manage their state of mind, whether needing composure under pressure, focus for productivity and efficiency gains, or to disarm the mind chatter of the inner critic that can lead to fatigue and overwhelm.