Just Relax Already (reprinted from the Metro Spirit 5-28-15)
Ah, what a wonderful Memorial Day weekend! While I know that not everyone could take a vacation day, I hope that you were able to spend time with your loved ones, say a prayer for those who gave their life protecting our freedom, and just take moment to slow down and put things back in perspective. It’s important that we all learn to do this. We are exposed to plenty of drama on a day-to-day basis. Some of it is relevant, most of it is not. If you can’t learn to filter out the unnecessary drama, well, you’re going to end up being really stressed out.
Thanks to the Internet, we are never more than a Facebook post away from someone else’s drama. I always figured that other people have problems just like I do, but I’m still amazed as to the extent of which others are willing to share. Most of it is just stupid. For example, is it really a good idea to tell the world how much you hate your current job? My first thought when I read this type of dribble is, “Well, why don’t you fix your life?” Of course, we all know the answer to that – the capacity to make meaningful change probably lies somewhere between uninterested and incapable. This personal statement about oneself is indeed tragic, but why compound the problem by taking the next step? Was is really smart to let all your future friends, employers and romantic interests know that you’re an unmotivated whiner that doesn’t know how to take control of your life?
Those who work in front of a computer are especially susceptible to Internet drama invading their personal lives. It’s unavoidable since it’s staring right at them. Granted, employers have improved in blocking irrelevant social media (For example, by using the Barracuda Web Filter to provide comprehensive web content security for the office – CMA Technology Lunch & Learn on June 17. Tweet me for more information.), but most folks will still get attacked by a rouge MSN homepage at some point during the day. The drama leaps from the web and lands directly in your brain.
The body reacts to the drama much as it would to any invader entering its space. Your hands, which were resting comfortably on the keyboard, suddenly become contorted with pain as the carpel tunnel works its way up your wrists and into the palm. The knot at the base of your neck tightens as the stress from your entire body seeks out a place to call home. You’re overcome with a sense of restlessness, and no longer can you sustain a comfortable sitting position. Finally, your mind shifts from its appointed task. Why did Nastia get voted off Dancing With the Stars? I can’t believe they did that. It’s just not fair!
Fortunately, a group of scientists at the University of Melbourne have discovered a way to help all of us maintain our productivity through these bouts of drama and boredom. According to them, we all need more green pastures in our lives. Literally. These scientists tested 150 students by making them perform a mind-numbing task analogous to data entry. Midway through the task, the students were given a 40 second break. The first group viewed a city rooftop scene (ho-hum) while the second group viewed a flowering meadow garden roof (ah…). For the remainder of the task, the group who viewed the garden roof made significantly less errors and demonstrated superior concentration.
Of course, the scientists took next step down the politically correct path of least resistance and postulated some sort of environmentally-conscious, spiritual renewal that comes from viewing nature for 40 seconds. I think the explanation is simpler and more fundamental. As much as we seem to enjoy getting wrapped up in other people’s drama, we also need our own drama-free zone. Whether it’s a green meadow, a quiet beach or a server room located far away from your co-workers, we all need a place where we can block out the drama and hear our own thoughts.
So the next time you find yourself getting excited over Hillary’s deleted emails or Tom Brady and Deflategate, please just let go of the mouse and step away from the computer. It’s time for you to go find your happy place.
Until next time@gregory_a_baker