I have a love-hate relationship with technology right now. I am thankful that teleconferencing allows me to work from my home office's safety, but I hate the way my mind feels at the end of the day. Honestly, I hate the way my mind feels forty minutes into meetings. I get distracted by pop-ups on my computer and start talking over people.
How can I be working less and still be so tired? "Zoom brain" exists, and the cure is learning to protect your energy.
Get rid of the “shoulds.”
My laptop died during the pandemic—the one I carried to every coffee shop around town as I was writing my mindfulness book. We spent a lot of time together. I had all the files backed up, so nothing was lost, but I was attached to her. I felt guilty for grieving this loss when I was safe and healthy. Shouldn’t I be focused on staying informed or social justice?
Allow yourself to feel how you feel and treat your thoughts with kindness. No one has navigated this type of pandemic before, and in the end, the only thing that should be perfect on the other side of this is the vaccine!
Shift to a guided meditation.
When I started meditating, my thoughts were all over the place, so I quit because I didn’t think it was working. No one told me this meant my body was releasing stress. Busy minds need something to do and may resist lengthy quiet time.
Prezence offers various guided meditations for busy people and offers digital meetups for people to connect around the practice. It’s helpful to hear from other people at different stages of their mindfulness journey.
I teach a visualization designed to help caregivers, activists, and health care workers check in on their energy. We all hear that you can’t pour from an empty cup; many of us try to fill up with a practice and don't realize how depleted we are. We may feel disappointed with the results as if meditation wasn’t worth the time.
I teach that when we start mindfulness practices, we aren’t cups—we are funnels. Think of self-care as the water we pour in—watch as the water goes right through as we are continually giving. When I started meditating, I felt like an upside-down funnel; only a little bit was coming in, and even more was spraying out in all different directions.
Now I check in on my energy throughout the day. Am I a cup or a funnel? I want to fill up with my practice and give from the overflow, not from a place of depletion like an upside-down funnel.
Twenty Minute Timer.
Working from home blurs the lines between work and play. Some people hesitate to take much-needed breaks as they worry the break will take up too much of their time. Breaks are necessary to help us work efficiently. Break activities involving screens, like Netflix or checking social media, are fun but not restorative.
I set a timer for 20 minutes. If I feel more work is going well, I set it again. When it goes off again, I make a break for housework or even better a walk outside or cup of tea. Tech breaks with Prezence are coming soon to help you unplug from digital devices.
I’ll set the timer when I read the news or check social media. In reading the news rather than watching TV, I have more control. Even if a story seems OK on TV, there is always that ticker at the bottom of the screen!
The Power of a Project.
Even small tasks give us a sense of direction and control throughout the pandemic. I don’t dread deadlines right now as they provide a sense of time, as otherwise, days and weeks get lost. I was grateful for my book project. It was also a gift to watch neighbors and colleagues rediscover hobbies and outside interests. Tasks, as simple as gardening or completing puzzles, foster a sense of accomplishment.
An intention is a project of sorts. I started this list with an intention to be kinder to myself. An intention is a more forgiving form of a goal; it’s the idea of where I am and where I would like to be. As a mental health provider, I appreciate that the Prezence app offers a journal for this type of reflection.
Candace Good, MD (a.k.a @goodenoughdoc) is a practicing psychiatrist and author of Own Your Present: A Psychiatrist’s Guide to Mindful Meditation and Living a More Conscious Lifestyle.
See her Prezence Pep Talk with our CEO Colleen Hayes on IGTV!