life balance

Conscious Cat Sunday: Take Time For Yourself

sleeping_cat

Sometimes the most important thing in a whole day is the rest we take
between two deep breaths. – Etty Hillesum

We all have busy lives, and there are days when it feels like we’ll never get everything done. For most people, the first thing to fall by the wayside during busy times is time for yourself. I’ve never met a cat who says”I’m too busy to take a moment to stretch in the sun.” Why can’t we be more cat like when it comes to taking care of ourselves?

The following ten tips can help you carve out some time for yourself even when the world is screaming for your attentionime. I offer this thought to you: you can’t afford not to take the time. Your sanity, and your health, may depend on it.

  1. Say no to anything that’s not important. I’ve always liked Steven Covey’s system of sorting items on your to do list into urgent, important, not urgent, and not important categories. Surprisingly, it’s the items in the “important but not urgent” quadrant, not the things that are “urgent and important,” that should receive your greatest attention. For example, daily playtime with your cats is important but not urgent. Feeding your cats, however, is important and urgent! For a more detailed (and less cat-centric) explanation of Covey’s important/urgent matrix, visit Practice This or go straight to the source and read Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  2. Ask for help. Frequently, people who are constantly busyContinue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: When Work Becomes Play

Richard_Branson_work_and_play_quote

I nabbed the photo above from Richard Branson’s Facebook page because I loved the quote so much. And okay, I couldn’t help embellish it a little, because how cool would it be if Allegra and Ruby actually got to hang with Richard Branson?

But back to the quote. I consider myself fortunate that I love what I do for a living, and much of my work feels like play. I love working from home, and being my own boss. But with all this freedom come some challenges when it comes to what is known in popular parlance as “work life balance.” I can’t remember the last time I worked an eight hour day, and I definitely can’t remember the last time when I took an entire weekend off. But does it really matter, when I love my work?

Richard Branson’s quote made me realize that it doesn’t. Continue Reading

Conscious Cat Sunday: Are you addicted to technology?

Are You Addicted to Technology

Technology makes it possible for people to gain control over everything,
except over technology. – John Tudor

As a professional blogger and writer, I spend much of my day online. I also have a BlackBerry that keeps me connected to e-mail and my blog when I’m not at my computer. I love the world of e-mail, blogs, social media and other forms of online communication and the opportunities it presents. I especially love how it has changed how we meet people and form friendships in ways we never could have imagined even ten years ago.

Technology has allowed me to make contact with people I never could have met in real life.  Whether it’s the author I’ve admired for decades, or the veterinarian whose articles I’ve only read in journals before, or the many fellow cat people who share my love for these incredibly fascinating and wonderful creatures – I treasure all of these relationships.  Some of them have turned into real-life friendships.

But there is a downside to all this 24/7 connectedness. As with all good things, there can be too much of it. Researchers from the University of Glasgow found that half of the participants in a study reported checking their email once an hour, while some individuals check up to 30 to 40 times an hour. An AOL study revealed that 59 percent of PDA users check every single time an email arrives and 83 percent check email every day on vacation. (Source: WebMD.com)

Does this sound like the behavior of an addict to you? That’s because it is. All this technology creates compulsive behavior by tapping into the brain’s reward circuit and operant conditioning: the association of stimulus and reward. Every time you hit “check mail” on your e-mail or smartphone, you get a little dopamine hit. Dopamine is one of the neurotransmitters that makes you feel good. Receiving that e-mail, text, or Facebook comment sends a message to your brain that says “Yay! Somebody loves me!” Your brain comes to associate this feeling with the “you’ve got mail” or text message sound on your device, and releases a squirt of dopamine each time it hears the signal.

As if this weren’t bad enough, after you check that e-mail or that Facebook comment, your dopamine levels dip below normal, so you need another hit just to get your levels back to normal. If you’ve ever sat at your computer and hit  the “get new mail” button over and over and wondered why on earth you’re doing that, now you know.

The constant connection to technology can take a toll on our bodies and our mental state, and it  probably behooves us to occasionally unplug, even if it’s only for a few hours. Here are some ways to break the technology addiction, at least temporarily:

  • Unplug for for short periods of time if disconnecting for an entire day seems impossible. You life won’t implode. As with any addiction, there can be a period of anxiety when you first try it.
  • Leave your cell phone at home one day a week. Weekends are good for this. For some people, this will have the same effect as a two-week vacation; the psychological benefits can be that dramatic. If you feel must have your cell phone with you because of safety concerns, keep it turned off.
  • Set boundaries. Don’t check e-mail as soon as you get out of bed. Stop checking e-mail after a certain time in the evening. Set yourself  a time limit when you go on social media sites.
  • Don’t let technology interfere with real, face-to-face contact. There’s nothing more irritating to me than having lunch with someone who keeps a constant eye on her smartphone.

I’ll admit, I find it very difficult to unplug, and I know I need to work at doing it more frequently. Thankfully, Allegra and Ruby are good at reminding me to step away from the computer. Usually, their reminders involve a walk across the keyboard, or a chase around the monitor. I’m going to heed their advice today and try and unplug for a few hours.

How about you? Are you addicted to technology? Do your cats remind you to unplug?

You may also enjoy reading:

Conscious Cat Sunday: Creating balance

Conscious Cat Sunday: Make time for contemplation