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Mindfulness and multitasking, friend or foe?

By Sonia Salfity , Family Flavours - May 21,2023 - Last updated at May 21,2023

Photo courtesy of Family Flavours magazine

By Sonia Salfity
Desparate Dieter

 

I find the older I get the less I can multitask, especially when it’s something that requires more of my attention. The problem with multitasking is that it prevents us from being fully present, which translates into less mindfulness.

It’s impossible to focus on an important task when we’re juggling a million things at a time. We’re bound to drop the ball on the important things and fail to do a good job due to overextending ourselves.

 

Healthy habits

 

When it comes to developing healthy habits, we can use our multitasking strategy to bundle established healthy habits with new ones we are trying to develop. Combining good habits that have become part of your daily routine with a new one you are trying to incorporate is something we do without thinking.

You may find you’re already doing this in some areas of your life without being consciously aware of it. Take cooking, for example; you find yourself waiting on something to simmer on your stove, so you decide you might as well make the coffee or do some meal prep since you can’t leave the kitchen. I’ve learned to combine mundane tasks with ones that are more enjoyable so it’s a win-win situation.

I listen to podcasts while putting the dishes away and doing laundry and tidying up. I’ve also learned to stop taking shortcuts so I no longer put items on the bottom of our staircase so I can take them when I’m going up for something else. Instead I make myself go up the stairs and while I’m at it I’ll brush my teeth and put some clothes away. Think of it as tag teams: One good habit after another makes for a successful win.

 

Committing to your healthy habit 

 

It all starts with our thoughts. That’s where we can break the cycle of unhealthy habits one thought at a time, one action at a time. Let me walk you through what that looks like in my life: If you tell me I need to walk an hour a few times a week, then I’m probably going to come up with an excuse half the time not to do so. Excuses like ‘I didn’t sleep well last night’, or ‘I don’t have time today’. Interestingly enough, everyone always seems to have time to scroll on their social media but never enough time to take a stroll with a friend. I’m guilty of that myself but I’ve found that combining the healthy habit with something we already enjoy makes you much more likely to show up!

For the last 14 years, I have been walking with a very good friend of mine. She’s the kind of friend that shows up rain or shine and is always on time. Knowing that I’ll be meeting Sue for a walk makes me more accountable and much more excited to connect with a friend. The walking part has become secondary to the pleasant conversations and a friendship that has grown the more miles we’ve covered. The connection is priceless and we don’t take that for granted. We even try to book appointments outside of our walking time just so we don’t have to miss out.

Combining positive habits with something we already enjoy is truly one of the easiest ways to get healthier. It’s just a matter of being intentional about it. You can even combine two or more healthy habits. We have even learned to pray on our walks when we have something heavy on our minds. So now we call them ‘prayer walks’ which are good for the body and the soul!

Another easy trick that hardly takes more effort is to cook a little extra when you’re already cooking for the family. This way you can do the meal prep for the next day and not have an excuse to stop for fast-food on your way home from work. The same idea applies when you eat out. Tell the server to give you a box for take-away and save half your portion for the next day. Restaurant portions are already at least double what a normal healthy portion should be, so get more for your money and save a few calories while you’re at it!

Whatever you do this May, let’s make sure we keep our eyes on the ball and never lose sight of our goals. Let’s remind ourselves that small victories lead to bigger ones when they become a regular part of our daily lives. These are the habits that will carry us through the hardest of days. Let us befriend them and not treat them as guests that are ‘here today, gone tomorrow!’ Instead may they have a permanent place in our lives as we make room for them because they are here to stay!

I suggest we kick out the unwelcome guests, the bad habits, and not keep inviting them back! Here’s to a healthier, mindful, and life-giving attitude as we get stronger and wiser about building good habits that we can pass on to our children so they won’t have the struggles we have endured as desperate dieters.

 

Reprinted with permission from Family Flavours magazine

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