Is stress an addiction of the brain?

Is stress an addiction of the brain? by Patt Lind-Kyle, MA

Lately, I have become fascinated with the notion that stress is a habit. Stress is addictive as we become dependent on it and we feel lost when it goes away. We find some quiet and peace in our lives and then quickly turn on a violent movie, talk on the phone, text or email someone or watch the news or feel pressured in some demanding circumstance. Do we like stress that much? Is our intention to have more mental or emotional strain? Buddha calls this addiction suffering and we call it stress. He also said, “What I teach is that there is suffering and there is an end to suffering.”

To really know how to end this addiction to stress is impossible if we hold tight to the physical and emotional tension and pain without even realizing it. More importantly we do not know how to identify stress in order to reduce or change our sources of the stress. Thus, our stressful reactions in our brain–mind, and body can create a negative loop that keeps repeating itself. There are two ways the brain responds to our reactions. One is via the nervous system (electrical system) and two is via the endocrine system (our chemical system). Every reaction such as a thought, emotion, perception and sensation are all run by this electro-chemical system.

As we wear our habits like gloves they are what and who we are and they become our electro-chemical addiction. We have an arsenal of neuro-chemicals in our brain and body such as dopamine, acetylcholine, GABA, and serotonin. These chemicals in the neuronal pathways have been reinforced by our repetitive behavior, which keeps us “addicted” to the same habitual pattern. For example, Peter has a regular routine, which reinforces his sense of orderliness. He gets up meditates, makes his coffee, reads the paper, has his exercise routine, showers etc. This pattern of chemical and electrical impulses gives Peter great comfort and familiarity. This pleasurable situation of routine triggers Peter’s brain to produce the chemical neurotransmitter dopamine that activates the brain’s reward center of pleasure.

One summer Peter’s sister stayed with him for a month. She and her family took over the house with her kids toys spread everywhere and with new activities, making the baby’s food and lots of screams and chatter. What happened to Peter’s brain electro-chemical system when the sense of his order is “messed up?” At first Peter’s reaction to the change triggered the brain to release emergency chemicals to prepare for the defense of his orderly system. The evolutionary flight and fight chemical of cortisol and adrenaline quickly flowed into his blood stream triggering the emotional responses of fear, anger and anxiety. These addictive substances kept him locked into automatic emotional behaviors. These behaviors kept him asleep to what was actually happening to him.

Fortunately, Peter woke up in time. He was present to and aware of what was going on inside of himself. He knew he had to make a more healthy choice of responses and chose to break the stressful addictive automatic pattern. Peter had practiced self-reflection through daily meditation and the use of his EFT training to break the negative pattern of automatic thoughts. Both of these practices relax the mind-brain, and body which in turn switches off the cortisol/adrenaline response. When Peter entered into the relaxation of these practices dopamine was released and the brain produced an inner feeling of well being.

Our brain is begging us for a chance to recover from our addiction to stress. Training our mind is a way to release our automatic repeating stress patterns. The practice of mind training and Emotional Freedom Technique ( is a major contributor to the brain’s evolutionary process. It is a way to shift our inner world from conflicted addiction devastation within ourselves to compassion for our self and others.

Patt Lind-Kyle holds an MA in East/West Psychology and a BS in Biological Sciences. She is a therapist, consultant and author. She is also a co-founder of Lind & Kyle Consultants, an executive development company that applies neuro-monitoring tools for stress management, health, and peak performance. Her research, writing, and teaching in the mind/brain field center on using an EEG brainwave monitoring system to help individuals maximize their brain-mind potentials.

Patt is the author of the new book Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence. (Energy Psychology Press, 2009) She also has created a companion set of practice CDs that accompany the book by the same title. Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain won the Independent Publishers gold medal award in the Health/Wellness category for 2010. She has written a chapter in Audacious Aging: “Building Community from the Inside Out” (Elite Books, 2009), and is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up (SwanRaven, 1994, BookSurge, 2008).

Video: Applying the 4 Tools

In Segment 6 of Patt’s interview with Dr. Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio, Patt talks about applying the 4 tools of attention, intention, receptivity and awareness.


Face it, Embrace it, Erase it and Emotional Freedom Technique: Two tools for Healing and Rewiring our Emotions

Emotions cannot be permanent.  That’s why they are called “emotions” the word comes from “motion,” movement.  They move, hence, they are “emotions.” From one to another you continually change. – Osho

When I returned from a three-month silent meditation retreat my stepson said to me “Where did all your anger go?”  First of all, I was amazed he recognized my emotional change and secondly, I began to question what happens to the mind/ brain when stressful emotional reactions are regulated in some way and then seem to disappear. This question has motivated my passion and research for the past ten years.

Brain research studies have shown that people who meditate generally do not react to life situations as readily as when compared with those who do not meditate. These studies have shown in practicing meditators that neuronal connections are activated in positive rather than emotionally fearful or negative areas of the brain. Neuro-scientists call the brain’s ability to change in this way neuroplasticity.

Neuroplasticity enables our brains to be flexible and produces these changes in the brain through having novel experiences and a practice of repetition. Most of us do not do long retreats or stay in silence for months on end, but we are searching for “tips” to reduce stress and gain emotional balance in our lives.  I have found two “tips” that can easily release old emotional patterns and literally rewire the brain. The first tip is a technique called “Fact it, Embrace it, Erase it “(FEE) that I developed in my therapy practice. The second tip is called Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) that is used by many health professionals. These two techniques move hand-in-hand to remove old negative emotional patterns and provides a combined methodology to create new and positive patterns that both heal and rewire the brain.

One of my clients, Julie, was constantly driven by fear, anger and hurt. She remembered being judged, and ridiculed unmercifully by her father. These fear, hurt and anger responses were “hard wired” into her neuronal emotional memory bank to be repeated over and over again in response to life situations. She had struggled for years through many forms of therapy with poor results to heal this deep pattern. When she came to me she did not want to live in this emotional turmoil anymore.  Our strategy was to change the neuronal pathways that kept these emotional patterns going through the rewiring technique I call, Face it, Embrace it and Erase it. To face her situation I had her repeat her story about her relationship with her father and embrace it until her sensory body responses, mental images and thought pattern had reduced the emotional charge. This reduction of emotional response happened after several repetitions of her story feeling state. I had her use a scale of 1 to 10 to gauge her emotions after each repetition. As she repeated each time the feelings and sensations in her body the emotional charge became less and less and finally was no longer connected to the story. Usually a person will say the emotional reaction to the story is at 0 to 3 on the scale. Then, using a visualization meditation that is part of the technique, she found a new story that she discovered in order to establish new neuronal pathways. At this point I taught Julie the EFT method. The EFT technique uses repeated tapping on specific areas of the body while repeating new affirming thoughts. The pattern of tapping that EFT uses reinforces new neuronal pathways and is key to the rewiring process of the brain.

To face, embrace and then erase old memory patterns is a beginning step of the brain to unwire these neuronal patterns and become wired into new neuronal pathways. To create a new story provides a new novel pattern for the brain to connect to and amplify through repetition. Changing the function and structure of the brain circuitry takes both practice and repetition time.  I gave Julie a twenty-one day practice of “ tapping in” her new sensory feelings while imagining and repeating to herself the new story we had crafted together for her life.

All of us have these negative repeating emotional patterns that create stress and unhappiness that we want and need to clear emotionally. Neuro-scientist say, “The mind is what the brain does.” It is our mind through our intentions and what we put our attention on that can help us be more aware and receptive to making emotional changes for a healthier and happier life. These two tools together, FEE and EFT, provide a positive and practical method to heal our minds and rewire our brains.

(Read the complete description of the FEE technique in my book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain and go to EFT Universe for the EFT process.)

Patt Lind-Kyle holds an MA in East/West Psychology and a BS in Biological Sciences. She is a therapist, consultant and author. She is also a co-founder of Lind & Kyle Consultants, an executive development company that applies neuro-monitoring tools for stress management, health, and peak performance. Her research, writing, and teaching in the mind/brain field center on using an EEG brainwave monitoring system to help individuals maximize their brain-mind potentials.

Patt is the author of the new book Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Happiness. (Energy Psychology Press, 2009) She also has created a companion set of practice CDs that accompany the book by the same title. Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain won the Independent Publishers gold medal award in the Health/Wellness category for 2010. She has written a chapter in Audacious Aging: “Building Community from the Inside Out” (Elite Books, 2009), and is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up (SwanRaven, 1994, BookSurge, 2008).

Attention readers on or near the East Coast USA: Patt will be at Kripalu Center in MA for Yoga and Health for a 3-day workshop March 27-30th, 2011.  If you have read Patt’s book, this will be a great opportunity to integrate the information through personal practice.  Stay tuned to Patt’s Calendar for details or visit

Video: Following the Brain into Meditation with Dr. Emmett Miller

In Segment 5 of Patt Lind-Kyle’s interview with Dr. Emmett Miller of Healing Times Radio, Patt talks about:

  • What is the brainwave frequency called beta, what is its frequency, what does it do to the mind and what kind of behavior does one have while in beta?
  • How does one reduce fast brain waves to calm the system and move into the brainwave frequency for strategic thinking (at 15 Hz within the beta range)?
  • What happens around 12 Hz with our attention and ability to focus/concentrate?

In the book, Patt looks at these 3 areas and suggests exercises to manage these brainwave states:

1) Learning to relax the entire body in order to get to know the body and reduce pain
2) Using the CD’s to help learn this process

Dr. Miller asks: How do people know if they are in the meditative state?  Patt answers:

  • Meditation is deeper than relaxation
  • Once the body is very quiet and relaxed, then you can notice your breath and sense the rhythm to the breath
  • Then you notice body sensations, visual sensations, thoughts, sounds
  • Then you are in the next level: alpha (an aware state) and you look to see “who’s aware?” by noticing the observer – moving to the bridge from conscious state to meditation state/sub-conscious state
  • This awareness becomes habituated for most people so it is important to learn these techniques

Video Interview: What can I learn from this book? with Emmett Miller, MD of Healing Times Radio

In this video, Emmett Miller, MD asks Patt, “what can people learn from this book?”  Patt answers:

The book is split into 2 parts:

1) the science of the brain

– how the brain works

– how the mind works

– what happens they flow together and what stops the flow

2) the brain and its electrical and chemical components

– the 4 neurochemicals

– the 4 brainwaves

– what happens when they are out of balance and in balance


First place, gold medal: Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain receives book award

Author and consultant Patt Lind-Kyle has been named a 2010 Living Now Book Awards gold medalist in the Health/Wellness category for her book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain.

Part of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (known as “Ippys”), the Living Now Book Awards are awarded in 30 lifestyle categories, and are “intended to promote newly-published lifestyle books that will help readers enrich their lives in wholesome, Earth-friendly ways.”

Chosen from among 428 total entries, Lind-Kyle’s book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence (Energy Psychology Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-60415-056-8, $26.95) explains the science behind neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to grow, change, and forge new neural pathways at any age. The book, accompanied by companion guided-mind training CDs, also gives readers the instructions and tools necessary to “rewire” their own brains for increased focus, emotional control, reduced stress levels, and higher levels of balance, creativity, and happiness.

More than just a study of how personality typing, meditation, mind training, neuroscience, and brain chemistry intersect and interact, the book is a tool that readers can use to achieve a higher state of personal evolution.
“The truth is, the world we live in will never magically become stress-free,” Lind-Kyle observes. “But it is possible (and surprisingly straightforward!) to train yourself to meet challenges head-on with a stable, focused, and calm mind. And that will make all the difference.”

# # #

About the Author:
Patt Lind-Kyle is an author, therapist, speaker, trainer, and consultant. She is a former professor at Foothill College, and founder of a learning assessment company that applies neuro-monitoring tools for stress management, health, and peak performance. Her research, writing, and teaching in the mind/brain field center on using an EEG brainwave monitoring system to help individuals maximize their brain-mind potentials.

Patt has written a chapter in Audacious Aging: “Building Community from the Inside Out” (Elite Books, 2009). She is also the author of When Sleeping Beauty Wakes Up (SwanRaven, 1994).

For more information, please visit

About the Book:
Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Applying the Exciting New Science of Brain Synchrony for Creativity, Peace and Presence (Energy Psychology Press, 2009, ISBN: 978-1-60415-056-8, $26.95) is available at bookstores nationwide and through major online booksellers.

About the CDs:
Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain: Companion CDs for the Book (2-CD set, $14.95) contains six sessions that guide listeners through the exercises and practices relating to each of the four brainwave frequencies as described in the book. The CDs can be used in conjunction with the book, or as a stand-alone tool. To download a free mp3 of one of the exercises or to purchase the CDs, please visit

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Video interview: Science and Spirituality with Emmett Miller, MD

Patt Lind-Kyle talks about the integration of science and spirituality with respect to the mind and brain working together to arrive at a sense of who we are.  This short video is segment 3 of the interview with Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio with Patt Lind-Kyle, author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain.

Watch here:

Remember the importance of a good, long YAWN

Remember the importance of a good, long YAWN

(this article is re-printed from Bottom Line’s Daily Health News)


Yawning is something we mostly stifle — after all, it’s embarrassing to yawn in the face of another as if to announce that you didn’t get enough sleep or, worse, that you’re bored. That’s a shame — because researchers have discovered that the humble yawn is a major contributor to mental alertness… keeps our brains properly cooled (literally)… and helps us to shift from one activity to another, even to adjust from one time zone to another. They recommend using yawning consciously as a tool to make life better. For example, yawn soon after awakening to rev up your brain for the day or at night to help calm yourself and promote sleep.


Most people believe that we yawn to bring oxygen from the air into the body, but that’s wrong, says psychotherapist Patt Lind-Kyle, MA, the author of Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain. She calls yawning an “exercise for the brain” based on the growing number of studies that have found that it facilitates mental efficiency. Yawning does its magic by literally forcing extra blood directly to the brain. When you yawn, your facial muscles broadly contract and then relax, and this action pushes oxygen-rich blood into the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the location of the “executive function” that covers planning, organization, decision-making, personality expression and many other crucial activities.

The yawn also sends blood to stimulate an area called the precuneus, which is involved in consciousness along with memory and motor coordination. As far as serving to cool the brain, a 2007 study at State University of New York-Albany found that performing difficult mental tasks, such as processing lots of information, actually increases brain temperature. Though we’re all familiar with the way ongoing mental labor can trigger yawning, it’s not because it is tiring. Again, the yawn sends blood to the brain to curtail its rising temperature, which is how it helps to maintain mental efficiency. Interestingly, both yawning and body thermoregulation seem to be controlled by the same area of the brain, the hypothalamus.


Okay, so now we know that yawning can increase our efficiency in a number of areas… how can we take better advantage of this? Just decide to yawn and then do it — and I mean do a real face-stretcher! I’ll tell you how in a moment, but first here are some situations in which Lind-Kyle suggests adding a yawn…

  • To stimulate better thinking. When you are preparing for an   exam, a presentation or an important conversation, you can enhance your performance by yawning several times first. During an exam, don’t be shy about yawning when you find yourself losing focus or starting to stumble in your thoughts — it will help.
  • To reduce jet lag and reset energy levels. At 20 weeks gestation, fetuses start to develop a wake/sleep pattern and as part of the process, they yawn… a lot. Lind-Kyle says that we can consciously use yawning to help reset our wake/sleep patterns, including when suffering jet lag. To start, yawn five times or so as soon as you get off the airplane. When you’ve experienced how well this refreshes you, Lind-Kyle says you may soon begin to do it intuitively — you’ll find yourself yawning whenever you feel yourself starting to drag. She says that yawning can be used in this manner to help you acclimate to high altitudes and to reset your energy level as you switch from one activity to another, such as from sleep to wakefulness.
  • To improve your mood… and, possibly even your relationships. Yawning is associated with increased levels of dopamine, the neurotransmitter released from the hypothalamus that is associated with pleasure, motivation and sociability. Lind-Kyle says that when two people yawn together, it can help diminish tension in the relationship… and fortunately, yawning is highly contagious, so it’s easy for both of you to get in on the act. If nothing else, a shared yawning session should make for a few ice-breaking laughs.
  • For relaxation. Curiously, although yawning serves to stimulate the brain, a deep yawn and wide stretch also relax the body. Lind-Kyle, who leads meditation classes, always starts with a healthy yawn, which she says gets people relaxed quickly. She said that bringing on a few deep yawns at bedtime may help you get to sleep.


We think of yawns as automatic, but it’s surprisingly easy to make yourself yawn…

  • Focus thoughts on yawning. Yawns are not only contagious from person to person — even thinking about a yawn can help trigger one, says Lind-Kyle. Close your eyes and picture a yawn, or say the word “yawn” repeatedly to encourage one.
  • Fake a yawn… or two… or three until a real one sets in. Lind-Kyle says she generally gets a real yawn after one or two fakes, but however long it takes, stick with it — it will happen.
  • Consciously slow your breathing. The decreased oxygen may help trigger a yawn — flaring your nostrils as you breathe in may make this happen faster.
  • And finally, the best yawn is one you fully experience, Lind-Kyle says. So go all the way — open your mouth wide, scrunch your face fully, and take a deep, full breath. Just be ready to explain yourself if you’re in company!

Video Interview: How Patt got started (with Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio)

In this video interview with Emmett Miller, MD on Healing Times Radio, Patt talks about:

  • how she began her book, Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain and
  • the difference between spiritual consciousness and ordinary consciousness
  • how an EEG machine helped Patt understand her own brain waves states and apply that knowledge for others
  • how she got started working with the 4 brain waves

If playback gets stuck or hangs up, try turning off “HD” by rolling over the upper right-hand corner of the playback window and clicking “HD on” to toggle HD playback off.

For more videos of Patt Lind-Kyle, subscribe to her podcasts or watch her videos on her website video pages.

Six Tips for your Brain in a Digital World


All our minds seem to be whirling in an electronic dance like the whirling dervishes of years past. In airports people are talking on cell phones, answering emails, texting, computers open on their laps to Facebook and they are watching the overhead CNN report and doing this all at once.  The same thing occurs in schools, in offices, on the streets and in cars.  It doesn’t seem scary for us to talk on the phone or text while driving a car. In our homes the tech life of computer games and social networking are taking over the minds of our children as they live their life in electronic and virtual realities often not wanting to eat, go to school or relate to us as their parents (who may be doing the same things as the kids).

Our digital age is changing our culture, reshaping our minds and habituating our interests. This digitized world we live in is beginning to consume our time, our energy and our social life. It is like an overpowering compulsiveness that is taking over the world. I have read reports that our digitized life is yet another addiction that has become a world wide epidemic.  For most of us it certainly is a growing experience that we have a dedication to, obsession with, infatuation with, passion for, love of, and yes, enslavement to our gadgets.  Call it what you will it is a craving, a yearning, a desire, and a hunger for something in order to feel satisfied; in order to be happy. The neruoscientist Jonah Lehrer coined the term “information craving.”  Our digital compulsions and cravings are just another dopamine high. Dopamine is a chemical in the brain that gives us the reward of pleasure. Dopamine changes our mood, our feelings and increases our energy. Like any addiction we get hooked on the stimulus of an electronic world and our dopamine brain wants more and more of it. The more we stimulate with these digital gadgets the more we deplete the dopamine and so the more we try to stimulate ourselves with them to get its high.

The Digital Environment and the Brain’s Social Network

This digital environment would not be a problem if our brain had a strong enough self-regulating system to adjust to this intense digital stimulation. The self-regulating circuits in our brain are the newest, most easily tired and overwhelmed areas of the brain. Self-regulation is in the prefrontal cortex of our forehead area.  The prefrontal cortex of the brain has only one neural circuit for our inhibiting process for self-regulating our behavior and this inhibitor becomes diminished when it is over used. In today’s digital environment the prefrontal cortex is not only over used, it easily becomes depleted of energy to function properly.

Virtual conventions via computer now bring people together from all over the world who have played computer games with each other for years. This is a birth of a new social network to connect people together digitally after only knowing each other’s Avatar name in cyber space. The brain also has its own social network with all its 40 quadrillion neural networks.  What is important about the brain’s social network is that it needs to have people socialize in person, face to face, not by email, texting, Skype or through other virtual means. The brain uses face-to-face social interactions and social connections as a positive reward to us that brings energy, balance and flow to our lives. This system of face-to-face connection with people is essential for our survival.  If the brain does not have in the flesh, face to face social connections you will increasingly feel lonely as it craves the connection to others. The brain needs the activation of our mirror neurons from other people to stimulate our brain activity. Not getting that mirroring connection from others it will substitute more and more digital substitutes like any addiction. To find this connection the brain will use similar circuitry to when we crave sugary foods, alcohol and other drugs.

The Multi Tasking Challenge of Our Digital Tech Life

Consider the young man, Josh. He is a freshman in college.  He is highly motivated to be a success in his college career.  With that in mind his family is paying for his education at a prestigious school. Going into his freshman year they bought him the school staple of digital gadgets. They got him a new HD TV, an iPhone, an iPod and a 27 inch iMac computer.  Digital tech life is normal for Josh and his schoolmates. Josh expects to have the latest and best digital gadgets. When I went to college I had a pen, paper and books in my backpack.  With all this digital gear we would expect Josh to be more effective and efficient at his studies. Like most students he multi tasks. He watches TV, works at his Mac writing a report, texts friends, checks email and Facebook and has earphones on listening to music on his iPod. All good, yes? Not really. A survey of students who multi tasked the most and the least were evaluated by University of Stanford professors Nass and Wagner. They found in their study that students who spent less time reading e-mail, surfing the net, talking on the phone and watching television performed best.  These students were much better at ignoring irrelevant information, organizing information into memory and were able to quickly swift from one thing to another. It is not a big jump to recognize that the same thing happens to all of us. Too much multi tasking jumbles us up and makes us tired and less effective in the same way as what the researchers found with students.

With the increase of this digital tech life shift neuroscientists have discovered the impact on our brain.  Neuroscientists have found that our brain automatically changes its structure and its function through repetitive thoughts and experiences. They call this process neuroplasticity. The brain can be molded and changed constantly by what we put our intention on. This is great for Josh who has the dream and intention of becoming a successful student and a success in life. However, as we delve deeper into the brain’s capacity to function effectively we find that it has some unexpected surprises.  The big surprise for Josh and for all of us in this fast paced digital world is that the brain can’t handle the multiple activity of watching TV, texting, talking on the phone and Googling on the computer while reading a book or Kindle all at the same time.

For Josh to be successful he needs to know how to use the brain’s hardware and the mind’s software. Knowing how our prefrontal cortex works will challenge his digital multi tasking. More importantly we all need to learn to control our digital addiction to multi tasking. The area in the prefrontal cortex of the brain (our forehead) is the newest evolutionary part of the brain that holds memory, creates our understanding, makes decisions, recalls information, inhibits our emotions and much more. It is a very small area and represents only 4 % of the brain. Since it is our emotional inhibiting system metabolically it needs oxygen, nutrients and glucose to make it work successfully and efficiently. When this part of our brain gets over loaded it begins to shut down. As this part of the brain gets tired and stressed we increasingly become inefficient and ineffective in whatever we are doing. The brain wants relaxation and rest from activity. It wants fresh air for oxygen, a good meal to bring up the glucose and exercise to release any toxins. The secret to success for this area of the brain is to prioritize and do one thing at a time! Here are some principles and tips to increase our effectiveness and reduce our digital addictions:

Six Tips to Support the Brain in Your Digital Life

Prioritize and do one thing at a time and group items together to follow an order of the day
The brain blossoms and is efficient, remembers and understands more clearly when there is no distraction. Too many things going on all at once creates fatigue in the brain very quickly. On the other hand the brain grows when you put focused attention on one thing at a time. If you are working at the computer turn all your other digital “stuff” off. The prefrontal cortex is organized to prioritize and operate in sequence with the least distractions. At the top of your priority list put the item that will take the most focus and concentration from you to get it done. Now. Let me add one radical priority. Not only don’t text and drive, don’t talk on the phone while driving. I know the argument. You talk to passengers if they drive with you. Research shows that there is a big difference between phone talking and live passenger talking in driving safety awareness. I want to take a step further and suggest that when driving alone turn off the radio. Focus on the awareness of the sensations of being in the car – hands on the steering wheel, aware of your body in the seat, etc. –  looking consciously at what is going on outside around you. Your brain will love this. Remember: one thing at a time of what is really the priority of what you are doing!

Do Critical important tasks in the morning like reports, planning, taxes, class reports, etc. and more repetitive, less thought focusing tasks like emails in the afternoon
Because of the sleep time re-energizing of the brain, mornings are the most productive activity time and this is when you schedule important mental work. The morning is the prefrontal cortex’s most effective activity time. This part of the brain grows tired by the afternoon and it loses energy, becomes easily distracted, falls into moods and becomes temperamental. The capacity of the prefrontal cortex is not large and it therefore can only handle no more that three items in the morning segment of time that you can be at work on.

Take a physical activity break every hour when you are working on the computer, phone or other digital gadgets
If you work at your computer to crunch numbers, Google for research, surf the net for airfare, text on your phone or scan Facebook set a timer for an hour stop what you are doing and get up and move around, do some stretching, take the dogs outside, smell the flowers and take in the natural world around you. Build into your schedule at least three times a week to exercise an hour or more. Walk, do yoga, run, work out at the club, do what you enjoy, but do it! When you are exercising don’t plug in your mp3 and listen to podcasts or music. Focus, concentrate on your body. Feel it, listen to it as this conscious focus on the body nourishes and energizes the brain. The brain needs this constant physical refreshment away from our digital environments.

Have daily social interaction and connection face to face with family and friends
The best diet for your brain would be to focus on fewer mental issues in a given day and increase the daily serving of social interaction with others and connection with the natural world. No phone calls, iChat or texting to connect with others all the time. Go to lunch, take a walk with a partner or friends, play ball with your kids, read stories to each other and talk about them. Come on, you know all the things that you miss doing with others. Just do it!

Consciously do some kind of relaxation, meditation or mental training everyday
In the morning before you get going with the day do at least 20 minutes of mental training, and another 20 minutes before you go to sleep. Use my Companion Heal Your Mind, Rewire Your Brain CDs to guide you into relaxation and more inner mental awareness. Mental relaxation and inner silence grows the prefrontal cortex and increases your capacity to be creative and productive. There are loads of research to support this.

Do a digital fast one day a week.

My husband and I take Saturday as our digital fast day. We turn off our computers, the iPhones and don’t touch email or Facebook. I know, I know the emails pile up if you don’t look at them several times a day. You will be amazed at how much easier it is to deal with them after taking a day off. Instead of using our Kindle we will read a regular book. Instead of typing we will write with pen and paper. Making this change makes the brain more flexible and more able to do creative work. Fasting breaks the habituation patterns that we get into so easily. More importantly it will change your perception of what you are doing with people and situations around you.

It is time we all make an effort to understand the impact the new digital technologies have on us and on our brains. It is time to understand how to more effectively work with them and not have them control our lives. We need to continually train our minds in order to help us develop a calm, peaceful, and stable environment inside ourselves and with people around us.  If you make the effort to work with the brain, the brain will reward you with satisfaction, pleasure and happiness and these digital gadgets will become our servants instead of masters who enslave us.