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Practicing Mindfulness

Have you ever started driving to a destination only to realize you haven’t noticed any details of your trip along the way? It is common to coast through the day without realizing what you are doing or why. Daily distractions, such as work deadlines, dinner plans or financial worries can preoccupy you from enjoying your daily routine. Adopting a mindful mentality can help resolve feelings of distraction and even change the way you handle your emotions.

Being more mindful of your daily activities involves being present in the moment and concentrating on the matters that immediately require your attention. Refusing to be present in each moment of your life can limit your attention to important details. The consequences of this inattention can result in missing information about your work, relationships and current well-being.

Practice mindfulness by becoming more aware of your senses and living in each moment. Check out the list below:

  • Consider what is happening around you in the present moment.
  • Observe your present thoughts without feelings, judgment or prejudice.
  • Notice the sights, smells and sounds around you.
  • Compare how your body feels right away in the morning to how it feels at night.
  • Be aware of your mood and how stressful events or daily hassles play a role in how you feel.
  • Practice mindful eating.

Unplugged: Are you addicted to your smartphone?

By: Ashley Shumacher, Program Coordinator

Tech-savvy individuals from around the globe are anxiously awaiting the release of Apple’s newest version of the iPhone. Some people are even camping outside of retail stores for days in advance just to be the first with access to the phone’s handy new features and apps. This level of excitement seems extreme to me, but to some, it’s a day of digital delight.

There’s no denying that smartphones have changed the way our society lives. They allow us to communicate with friends and family, obtain vital information and manage day-to-day activities with the touch of a button. For instance, without my smartphone, I would have never known there were 10 pizza places within a 5-mile radius of my house. Useful as they may be, this real-time medium has created such an increased need for responses and information that it’s now likened to an unhealthy addiction.

The Pew Research Center in Washington D.C. found that a whopping 46% of adults in the United States own a smartphone and a majority of those people sleep with their phones nearby (myself included). One of the main complaints of smartphone users is sleeplessness. Researchers say this could be caused by checking emails, texts and social networking sites before bed.

By constantly checking messages, websites and phone applications, the compulsive action of phone-checking can become as involuntary as moving or blinking. I have even caught myself reaching for my phone during face-to-face conversations with friends. Clearly I’m addicted – are you? Quiz yourself with a few smartphone addiction warning signs:

  • You check your phone every 30 minutes to an hour. Not necessarily checking for missed calls, but text messages, status updates, emails, etc.
  • Your checking becomes so frequent you develop checking habits or the urgency to update certain applications such as Facebook.
  • You’ve sent emails, tweets or Facebook messages from your smartphone when there was a computer in the same room.
  • You can’t roam around your house or office without having your phone within an arm’s reach.
  • Not being able to leave home without your phone.

There are no 12 steps needed to break this addiction. Simply start by limiting your smartphone usage. Turn off the phone completely in the evenings and increase face-to-face time with friends, family and coworkers. This will help to minimize distractions during your daily routine and will increase the time spent cultivating relationships, finishing tasks and getting to bed at a decent hour.