Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Overworked? A Quick Break Can Be Win-Win

As school is winding down for some and tax season can create its own kind of stress, here is an article I think is quite timely. Its from learning specialist Paul Scheely.

Tax day is fast approaching. Will you be among the millions chained to your desk or kitchen table slogging through IRS instructions to decipher rules for declarations and deductions?

Take a break
from your work with Uncle Sam, or any intense work, period of study, or repetitive task. Even a short respite of a minute or two will refresh your mind, improve your ability to concentrate and focus when you return to your work.

Researchers at the University of Illinois tested the ability of subjects to focus on a repetitive computer task for about an hour. They found the performance of most participants declined significantly over the course of the task—with the exception of those who changed their focus of attention during two brief breaks.

"It was amazing that performance seemed to be unimpaired by time, while for the other groups performance was so clearly dropping off," said psychology professor Alejandro Lleras, whose findings were reported in the journal Cognition.

The study is consistent with the idea the brain is built to detect and respond to change, he said, and suggests that prolonged attention to a single task actually hinders performance.

Whether you're slaving away over your taxes, studying for an exam, or working under deadline pressure to complete a project, commit to taking short breaks. You might consider any number of possibilities.

Get physically active
Try jumping up and down, climbing stairs, jump roping, or twirling a hula-hoop around your waist. Elementary children who engaged in such activities from three to five minutes in length throughout their day experienced a significant improvement in their academics, participation, and ability to stay on task, according to a University of Missouri study.

The study was meant to show kids the importance of physical activity and nutrition, but it also resulted in a reduction of chronic discipline problems.

Tap into nature
Take a quick walk in the park. Researchers at the University of Michigan studied the effect of taking a walk in a park versus an urban setting following a task designed to challenge memory and attention. When they repeated the task after the walk, those who walked in the park greatly improved their performance while those who walked in the urban setting did not.

And if you can't connect with nature outdoors, simply take a minute to view nature photographs. A second experiment of participants viewing nature photographs versus city scenes showed the same results. The authors suggest the more coherent, aesthetic nature images offered a more restful experience, which had a restorative effect on mental abilities.

Take five to meditate

Meditation has shown to alleviate stress and pain, promote sleep, and improve cognitive mental function. Meditation literally transforms the density of grey matter in your brain while enhancing your focus and concentration.

I tend to overwork myself as well, thinking I've got to get as much done as I possibly can in the shortest time possible. The price I would pay for that would be: a) having to go back to correct the mistakes I was making (creating more work for myself) because of b) being exhausted i.e. lose-lose and not productive.

I once had someone quite wise say to me "Maybe you're not taking a break from the work, but for the work" i.e. so I could put more quality into what I was doing and be more productive versus just spinning my wheels. It becomes win-win as I am also taking a break for me as well.

Have a great week!

Best of health and warmest regards, Paul R

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

"Drunkorexia" A Disturbing Trend

Hi there

Paul Radkowski here from the Life Recovery Program returning after a long break from blogging.

Here is a short video regarding some of the concerns and dangers of "Drunkorexia" which is becoming more common especially among college age drinkers.

Many college and university students are swapping food for alcohol. "Drunkorexia" refers to the growing trend of young people restricting the amount of calories they take in during the day to make up for the empty calories consumed through alcohol.

Research has shown that binge drinking (especially for women) can lead to other severe issues like anorexia.

Starving yourself while binge drinking is kind of like playing Russian Roulette with a gun that is fully loaded.

Please do what you can to inform yourself, stop and prevent this behaviour from trending further.

Best of health, Paul Radkowski