Capitalizing On Your Most Valuable Asset: Healthy Relationships

Written by Dr. Daniel Kimbley

Everyone and everything seems to be fighting for our attention. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, time with family and friends, email, and even deadlines at work. Although we could let our attention be stolen by any number of different distractions, staying present and focusing is extremely important to not only our health and well-being, but also to the wellbeing of those around us. A few years ago, a mentor taught me that relationships are our most important. Building lasting relationships sounds easy, but with our enduring distractions, how do we create the focus and presence to foster healthy relationships with others? 

Think about it, if your attention is constantly being stolen from the task or person in front of you, how does that affect your relationship with that person? Not that Facebook, Instagram or any other form of media are bad, it’s jus and valuable asset and that one of our most important investments is in lasting, healthy relationships. 

t that they are really, really good at distracting us from the things right in front of us that may be important. So, what can we do to create more focus and attention to create lasting change and better presence in our lives?

BECOME AWARE-On a recent episode of his podcast Chasing Excellence, Ben Bergeron offers a tip for realizing just how much time we spend distracted by our phones. He explains that for iPhone users, they can go into their settings, click the battery icon and scroll down to see battery usage for each application you’ve run on your phone in the last 24 hours and in the last 7 days. If you click on 7 days and then click the clock icon it will show you exactly how many hours of screen time you had using each application. Admittedly, I can do MUCH better. I spent 4.9 hours of screen time on Instagram and 6 hours of screen time on Safari (much of this time was likely spent on Facebook or CrossFit.com). The key is to first become aware of how much time is lost. Over 10 hours of my last 7 days have been wasted on social media; what’s your number?

REPLACE THE HABIT-Once you’re aware it’s time to replace the habit. You’re not going to quit social media cold turkey. They have designed it to be more enticing than anything else. It releases a chemical cascade in your brain that deals with your body’s natural reward system: dopamine. It is designed this way.  The New York Times columnist David Brooks wrote: “Tech companies understand what causes dopamine surges in the brain and they lace their products with ‘hijacking techniques’ that lure us in and create ‘compulsion loops’.” Quitting cold turkey may be difficult, so rather than just trying to stop, anytime you feel compelled to get on social media, catch yourself and instead do something else. Read a page from your favorite book, put on an audiobook or podcast for a few minutes or even stand up and walk around. Doing this on a regular basis will make you more prone to catch yourself becoming distracted which will ultimately allow you be more present with the people and things that matter most in your life. From doing this for a week, I was able to reduce my time from 10 hours of screen time to under 7 hours; clearly there is still much work to be done.

HAVE YOUR NERVOUS SYSTEM CHECKED-Having your nervous system checked for interference is sure to provide you with a means to create more focus and presence in your life. In 2016 Heidi Haavik and her colleagues found that stimulation to improperly moving spinal joints has a direct impact on the pre-frontal cortex of the brain. This is an important finding as it suggests that the chiropractic adjustment stimulates the part of the brain responsible for numerous coordinated tasks in the body including something called cognitive executive function. “Executive function relates to abilities to differentiate among conflicting thoughts, determine good and bad, better and best, same and different, future consequences of current activities, working toward a defined goal, prediction of outcomes, expectation based on actions, and social ‘control'” (Dahlitz, 2017). This means that by having your nervous system checked for interference and adjusted when needed can stimulate the part of the brain responsible for the very tasks associated with focus and presence. 

If you are looking for more focus and presence with your most valued people and events, getting your spine and nervous system checked before you decide to replace your distracting habits can only give you a leg up. This can start you off on the right track and optimize your relationships and productivity. A healthy nervous system benefits every level of function. Whether you like it or not, want to or not, you will probably continue to have unwelcome distractions as technology advances. Why not be proactive, in the decisions you make for you and your loved ones. Enjoy the presence and focus you all deserve so that you can enjoy health, happiness and longevity through every phase of life.

Lelic, D., Niazi, I. K., Holt, K., Jochumsen, M., Dremstrup, K., Yielder, P., Haavik, H. (2016). Manipulation of Dysfunctional Spinal Joints Affects Sensorimotor Integration in the Prefrontal Cortex: A Brain Source Localization Study. Neural Plasticity, 2016, 3704964. http://doi.org/10.1155/2016/3704964

Dahlitz, M. (2017, January 30). Prefrontal Cortex. Retrieved March 30, 2018, from https://www.neuropsychotherapist.com/prefrontal-cortex/

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