Smartphones making us stupid, the value of naps at work, and why you should start tracking your heart rate variability.
Monday, June 26
6 Things You Need to Recover From Every Day
Recover from Work: Psychological detachment from work occurs when you completely refrain from work-related activities and thoughts during non-work time. Research suggests that those that can detach from work will experience:
- less work-related fatigue and procrastination
- far greater engagement at work
- greater work-life balance
- greater marital satisfaction
- greater mental health
Recover from Technology: the average person checks their smartphone over 85 times a day, and spends more than 5 hours browsing the web and using apps. Set boundaries with your phone, specifically when you wake up and before you fall asleep. Unhealthy smartphone uses has been proven to:
- increase depression, anxiety, and daytime dysfunction
- decrease sleep quality
- decrease psychological and emotional well-being
- decrease emotional intelligence
- increased stress and decreased academic performance among students
Recover from People: Many of the most successful entrepreneurs purposefully schedule time to be by themselves to think, reflect, ponder, and plan.
Recover from Food: Research has demonstrated that regular fasting can dissipate the cravings for addictive substances and increase the levels of hormones that elevate happiness and confidence and reduce anxiety.
Recover from Fitness: Optimal fitness requires lots of sleep and recovery. When it comes to training, focus on quality, not quantity. Rest days can be just as important as workout days.
Recover from Being Awake: Sleep is essential. Sleep is linked to:
- increased memory
- longer lifespan
- decreased inflammation
- increased creativity
- increased attention and focus
- decreased fat and increased muscle mass with exercise
- lower stress
Tuesday, June 27
What’s Your Heart-Rate Variability? It May Be Time to Find Out
- HRV is being used in training not only with endurance athletes, but in soccer, basketball, and football.
- Psychologists are using it to train golfers and tennis players to control their heartbeats so they’re calmer under pressure.
- By learning to control respiration with slow, rhythmic breaths, people can temporarily increase their HRV, which can help lower blood pressure and reduce stress and anxiety.
- Coaches use HRV data to set training schedules. On days when an athlete’s HRV is down, a light training day or rest will be substituted for a harder workout. Low HRV is a sign that the body is still stressed, and pushing it too hard in that state might result in physical damage.
- Dr Richard Gevirtz, a professor of health psychology, has trained people to raise their HRV to successfully treat stress-related disorders like anxiety and gastrointestinal problems. A study of this method, published in March in the journal Psychological Medicine, concluded that HRV biofeedback training is associated with a large reduction in self-reported stress and anxiety.
Wednesday, June 28
Take Naps at Work. Apologize to No One.
- In a study published in Nature Neuroscience, researchers tested perceptual performance four times throughout the day. Performance deteriorated with each test, but subjects who took a 30-min nap between tests stopped the decline in performance, and those who took a 60-min nap reversed it.
- A 20-60min nap might help with memorization and learning specific bits of information, as that time frame is just long enough to enter slow wave sleep.
- A 60 min nap will allow you to reach REM sleep, which improves creativity, perceptual processing and highly associative thinking, which allows you to make connections between ideas.
- A 90 min nap will give you a full sleep cycle.
- Any nap, however, can help with alertness and perception and cut through the general fog of midday.
- For the best nap, find a quiet place where you won’t be disturbed, try to make your area as dim as possible, and aim for about 20 minutes.
Thursday, June 29
Are Smartphones Making Us Stupid?
- A study conducted by researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that a person’s ability to hold and process data significantly improved if their smartphone was in another room.
- Participants who kept their phones in a pocket or bag also outperformed those who kept their phones on a desk.
- Even if the phone was turned off and face down, the mere sight of one’s phone seemed to induce “brain drain” by depleting finite cognitive resources.
- “We see a linear trend that suggests that as the smartphone becomes more noticeable, participants’ available cognitive capacity decreases. Your conscious mind isn’t thinking about your smartphone, but that process—the process of requiring yourself to not think about something—uses up some of your limited cognitive resources.” – Adrian Ward, UT Austin
- In June 2016, a similar study found that a typical smartphone owner interacts with his or her phone an average of 85 times per day.
Friday, June 30
A Navy SEAL Explains 8 Secrets to Grit and Resilience
- Purpose and meaning: Without a good reason to keep pushing, we’ll quit. Studies of the “central governor theory” show that our brains give in long before our bodies do. In a study of West Point alums, those that had intrinsic goals outperformed those that had extrinsic goals.
- Make it a game: Happiness expert Shawn Achor says the best way to deal with stress is to see problems as challenges, not threats.
- Be confident but realistic: In the book Supersurvivors the author makes an important distinction: People in tough situations need to be realistic and about the danger they’re in but also confident about their ability to handle it.
- Prepare: “We spend 75% of our time preparing for deployment and 25% on the deployment. We have a lot of skills to cover and a SEAL’s trying to be a ‘jack of all trades, master of none’. There are many different disciplines to master, all of which require a lot of upkeep.”
- Focus on improvement: Carol Dweck, a researcher at Stanford, has shown that a growth mindset, the belief that abilities are not fixed and that you can improve, is a key element of success. When SEAL’s debrief a mission 90% of the time is spent discussing what they could do better next time.
- Give help and get help: By giving help and taking on the role of caretaker we increase the feeling of meaning in our lives. Having a support network is vital to improvement. Seeing others achieve goals makes us believe we can too.
- Celebrate small wins: Research on happiness suggests that lots of little good things beat infrequent great things when it comes to how successful we feel.
- Find a way to laugh: Humor is about playing with ideas and concepts. Whenever we see something as funny we are looking at it from a different perspective. This can help get out of a negative mindset.