Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Turn off, tune out, slow down

As the pace of the world gets faster, psychologists suggest we recharge ourselves instead of our phones

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How are you feeling?

Tired? Run down?

Has your email been inundated with meditation solicitations from chief of chakras Deepak Chopra and his buddy Oprah?

What about the numerous stress-relieving treatment offers -- think hot stones and hot yoga -- that land in your inbox on a daily basis? Are you tempted to sign up?

But do we really need to sign up to power down? Wouldn't it be better if we just took some time to truly unplug?

As Gandhi said, "There is more to life than increasing its speed."

Psychologist Dr. Ellen Domm, who practises in Vancouver and Whistler, agrees. Now, more than ever, we should be hitting the brakes on our busy lives, she says.

"Life is short and the body only has so much energy," Domm says. "I think it's extremely important to learn to observe yourself from an objective standpoint and really analyze what you are doing and what is working for you and what is not working for you. I think we are on automatic so much of the time."

We do too much and we are tired. And when we do have days off they are often spent recovering, says Domm.

"Where is the joy? Where is the self-care? It is not an expendable commodity, that time off. That time off is time off," emphasizes Domm, who adds that too many of us are getting stuck in a rut. "There's real endlessness about it that gets to people after a while."

So how did we end up on this big hamster wheel?

"I think it is part of the zeitgeist. We live in a world where we have so much information coming in and we feel we have to do something with it and it cannot be filed for later," Domm says. "We feel like we have to respond to it right away. I think there is a real sense of urgency about life and that extends into many different realms of our existence."

Of course, all the cool new gadgets we have at our fingertips aren't helping matters.

"Technology creates a whole level of busyness that isn't necessarily healthy," says Domm, who advocates such crazy things as actually going outside without a phone.

"I think that's why the big buzz word you hear now in psychology is 'mindfulness.' Any psychologist worth their salt is going to spend time with clients talking about how to pay attention to what you are doing, why you are doing it -- because multi-tasking is dividing your attention."

So how do we start to slow down?

"It sounds really simple, but do one thing at a time," Domm says. "It's the Zen thing: chop wood, carry water."

And in the end, to succeed at slowing down you must meet one very serious criteria: "You know the old joke: How many psychologists does it to take to change a light bulb? One, but the light bulb has to really want to change."

 

-- Postmedia Network 2014 Inc.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 31, 2014 D1

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