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The Benefits of Boredom

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Text messages, emails, news notifications and social media have us in a heightened state of stimulation. While some of that information is positive, turning off the stimuli, even temporarily, has tremendous upside. UH psychiatrist, Patrick Runnels, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Population/Behavioral Health, explains the science behind the benefits of boredom. Being in the moment decreases anxiety and stress and allows us to be happier overall.


Macie Jepson
So, Pete, when was the last time you were totally alone with your thoughts? I’m talking no telephone, not even the TV in the background, just you and your brain.

Pete Kenworthy
Yeah, it’s a hard one, right? I have a hard time with that, actually. I honestly can’t think of a time when it’s just my brain and me. I almost always have my phone nearby or something on the TV. When I’m driving, I have music on. So really, I’m never alone with my thoughts. The only time is maybe when I’m sleeping, right?

Macie Jepson
Yeah. Same, same. You know, when I do have downtime, I catch up on stuff; my texts, what’s happening in the world. When I’m cooking, I listen to music in the background. Really, the only time that I am completely alone with my thoughts is when I meditate, and by the way, I’m really bad at it. So, what are we missing when we don’t spend time with ourselves? And I’ve often asked myself, are there any benefits to being bored? Hi everybody, I’m Macie Jepson.

Pete Kenworthy
And I’m Pete Kenworthy. This is Healthy@UH. Our brains today are wired for stimulation, and it’s hard for most of us to turn off the noise. So, are our brains and emotions suffering from the lack of one-on-one time with ourselves? Joining us today is Dr. Patrick Runnels, Chief Medical Officer of Population Health and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center. Thanks for joining us.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Great to be here. Thanks for having me.

Pete Kenworthy
So, let’s start with being overly connected. Is it unhealthy?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
When you talk about being overly connected, there are two ways in which that can be tough on your brain. Part of that is the amount of information you’re getting and how it’s affecting you emotionally. And part of that is just the act of being connected and not being able to kind of turn off your brain or turn off the connection or really be alone with your thoughts. To start that first piece, when we think about everyone who’s been so connected, especially the last two years, but this has been the trend, what we know is that there is a lot of emotion that starts to get tied to the idea of having a whole lot of information coming at us. So, think about being on a Facebook page or on a Twitter feed, and you’re constantly getting bombarded with these very intense messages. And intensity can be defined a lot of ways.

If I’m on Twitter, one form of intensity, for instance, right now would be seeing a lot of tweets about the Ukrainian War. And the Ukrainian War might be really stressful. You know, for a lot of people, it is really stressful. It’s a very stressful, big, big deal. And if I’m constantly getting input every second, every few seconds new tweets coming on about that, then I’m going to start to exhort that anxiety. It’s like kind of rapidly throwing something in your face all the time. The same thing goes though for just the idea of having a lot of back and forth around any information, right? So, as I have more and more information coming at me and I’m trying to, you know, I’m trying to kind of absorb one piece of information. The second piece of information comes at me. And it can be good information or seemingly non-stressful information, but something we do is we start to compare what’s coming at us to our own, the way our own life is going. And Facebook’s a good example of this. On Facebook, it’s a very curated posts that everybody puts out there, right? No one puts a post out there the minute after they’ve woken up and they’re going to the bathroom and they are trying, and they’re spitting out whatever’s in their mouth from the mouthwash. That’s not the post they put up there. They don’t put up the fight they just had with their spouse. They don’t put up their kids D+ report card, right? They put up all the good stuff.

As you get flooded with that information emotionally, even if it’s good information, everyone else’s life can look and feel perfect, and that comparison can be incredibly stressful. And those things start to overwhelm us, right? And so, that’s kind of one area in which you can get overwhelmed. On the other hand, it’s this concept of information overload. When I have multiple devices…I’ve got my smart phone, I’ve got my tablet, then I have texts. Then I have, if I’m on Twitter or if I have a Twitter account, if I have a Facebook account, those things will start pinging me. I’ve got email. There’s a lot of ways information comes at me, and I’ve got to deal with all that information coming in, and every time I’ve got a new device and I pick up a new thing, my mind has to shift what it’s doing. My brain has to cognitively shift sets. That phenomenon is something called network switching. So, this idea that my brain is switching from one item or one thing it’s paying attention to to another thing that network switching is a task that takes time.

It takes my brain a little bit of energy and a little bit of mechanical work in there to make it work, and in fact, it takes about five minutes for me to shift from one task to another in a way that allows me to fully invest in the next task. But if I’ve got my phone and my tablet, and I’m getting pinged three different ways, you know, that starts to interrupt me. I could get interrupted every, I don’t know, 30 seconds, every minute. And my messages for my patients are about my patients and each patient’s different. And then I could be being texted about this document I’ve got to put together, a PowerPoint. I could be texted about what I’ve got to do for my family and who I got to pick up. I mean, all the different pieces coming in. And before, you know, it, my day becomes a blur. I’ve never had time to deeply just invest in one space. And that starts to also create a sense of unease and unrest.

Macie Jepson
I’m feeling a sense of unease and unrest right now. My anxiety level is in my throat. How does this manifest physiologically in our bodies?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
So, two things kind of happen, right? The first is, as people get stressed, we know that, and this is something people have probably heard before, but we know that stress induces cortisol levels to go up. When cortisol level goes up, our sleep gets worse. Our ability to just, you know, we can have blood pressure go up. We can have heart rate go up, nothing too bad, but enough to just kind of create a physiologic state in which we’re kind of always in a heightened kind of “on” state. And that’s enough to make it difficult to just relax and enjoy being in the moment. It also makes it really difficult to focus on what’s in front of us, right? So, it’s not so stressful. It’s not like a Tyrannosaurus Rex is coming out and trying to eat me.

It’s not that stressful, but it’s enough that I can’t really dig deeply into things that I want to be doing. It’s harder to read a book, for instance, to get lost in a book. It’s harder to just enjoy, if you’ve ever picked your kid up from school, just enjoy the 10 minutes of them telling you what went on at school. That’s harder to connect to, cause you’re kind of just a little bit more on, and you’re trying to pick up new stimuli, as opposed to just being in the moment and being able to be there. That’s probably the thing people notice most when they have all this going on, is that turning off is really hard. For an hour, that’s not a big deal. But if you then play that out, and that’s my life every day, then turning off starts to be something I just get bad at.

And one of the phenomena, just to give an example of that, that I hear all the time in the patients I see, is people coming in and saying, I can’t sleep well at night. And I ask them what their sleep is like. And they’ll say some version of, well, I get in bed and I fall asleep and then I wake up and I got to check my phone and I got to look at my emails or I got to see if someone texted or I got to see some version of what’s going on in the news. I can’t get the news off my mind. The New York Times, it updates every 30 seconds with new bombs or new, you know, political mud-slinging, all that stuff I got to kind of check into. And so, it gets to the point where I can’t even just let my, let it all down and just be. And that takes a toll on our mental health.

Macie Jepson
I want us to talk a little, little bit more about technology and social media in a couple of minutes, but let’s talk about the benefits of actually shutting down our brain, the benefits of boredom.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Couple of things to know. When we are, you know, our brains are naturally, there’s thoughts in there, and those thoughts are, it’s natural for brain to have kind of thoughts, pinging, making connections every time we have a stimulus coming in. So, I look at the floor and I see that it’s wood, or I look at the wall and see that it’s white or I see that a person’s coming in. All those stimuli trigger thoughts, and our brains are looking and like to be occupied with things. So, our brains have ways of working. Every human is a little different, but any, as we kind of move through the day, our brains are kind of naturally seeking things to pay attention to. That’s kind of how we evolved. And so, we’re naturally attracted to things that are of interest to us.

We like seeing movies or playing video games or reading books that are of topics we like. We like hanging out with certain people more than other people, because they’re compelling to us. They trigger certain kind of emotional thoughts in us. They, you know, our emotions in us, they trigger certain thoughts. And so, in that regard, our brains are looking for stimulus that makes us happy, and that connects with us, and that’s actually, to some degree, somewhat relaxing for us. Someone can be really interested in a topic and look really turned like, turned on, like activated and kind of seem like they’re not relaxed, but be in a state of relative calm because it’s stimulating the brain in a certain way. Take that away, get to a place where you don’t have things that are really be stimulating for you. That is a world that, we kind of call that boredom. And to some degree, if we’re sitting too long without something that’s very stimulating for us, boredom is really the feeling, the discomfort because your attention isn’t being captured in a certain way.

So, no matter where I am, I’m still getting stimuli. I’m still being able to see this is a floor that’s wood, and I’m able to see a wall that’s white, but if it’s not capturing my attention in a certain way then I feel uncomfortable. I don’t like it. It’s an unpleasant thing, so boredom serves a purpose. Boredom serves the purpose of having us go seek things out. It also serves the purpose of allowing our brain to start to make new connections. So, if I’m not being fed things all the time that are stimulating to me, well, then my brain’s got to come up with new things to kind of make connections that get us back to that state. That ability to do that is actually where we have a lot of innovation happen, and it’s where a lot of our creativity happens. So, creativity is very heavily correlated with downtime, time when you’re not being over stimulated. In a connected world, when you don’t set that time aside, you lose the opportunity to make creative connections. You lose the opportunity to see things and connect things in a new way. And when that happens, when you miss that all the time, this other thing happens, which is that you start to feel a little bit…despair is the wrong word…but you start to feel a certain sense of unease. It’s not boredom. So, I’m still being stimulated. So, imagine someone who’s checking Facebook all the time and playing video games all the time and constantly checking the news. There’s things going on. They’re usually checking things that are of interest to them, but there starts to be a certain emptiness to it, a certain blaséness (sic) to it. And while it’s not inactivation or non-simulation, it also leads us to feel a little bit down, you know, a lack of being able to kind of get creative and find new things.

The way I give the example here is think of the last time a new song played that you had never heard before that you loved, and you loved it the first time you heard it. That is an immediate new, that novelty is really awesome That novelty is huge, and that novelty happened because something new happened. There was a new discovery out there. We seek novelty as much as we seek stimulation. And if you are overstimulating yourself, you’re giving up the opportunity to experience the novel.

Pete Kenworthy
I understand the creative and the innovative part of that downtime. It makes sense. You’re alone. You have a chance to think about other things, but is there also value in introspection, looking at yourself in a way that you wouldn’t otherwise if you weren’t quote/unquote bored at that moment?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
I would suppose – this is a guess – that during COVID, a lot of people were pulled away from the highly stimulating environments they were in and stuck in confined spaces that were less stimulating. That happened to a lot of people. One of the things that happened a year and a half into COVID, being a thing where we were all socially isolated, is this thing you hear about called the great resignation. What people talk about when they talk about the great resignation is a lot of people sat down and reexamined their lives in a way they hadn’t before. And they decided that what they were doing wasn’t very compelling to them, or it wasn’t rewarding them in a certain way, or they needed to try something new. That’s exactly the point you just made, which it is we know that as you get time to really sit down and think differently, you do, in fact, when you take all that stimulus away, you very much are stuck with all the different thoughts that are stuck in your brain, and you then reevaluate things. That’s a certain sense of creativity about ourselves and about what we’re doing. What if I wasn’t going to this job all the time? What if I was instead going to this type of job? Or what if I was spending more time with family? Those are thoughts people didn’t have time maybe to think about before. And all of a sudden, we took a lot of the stimulus away. We took a lot of your environment away. You were stuck at home. And all of a sudden, those thoughts came in, and you were dealing with them a whole lot more. And a lot of people made some different decisions.

Pete Kenworthy
So, there’s actually value in creating that time for yourself.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Very much, very much. One of the tricks with technology, and this is something we obviously circle back around to that, is it’s so easy to not do that. And our brain, you know, so, before we get into the biology of addiction, cause I think it’s worth talking about here. We’ve got the biology of kind of something, you know, being compelled to do something, so I am doing something a lot of the time, I am compelled to do things that reward me. And the reward circuit of our brain is, you know, without getting in too much complexity, pretty simple. We have a part of our brain called the nucleus accumbens. And when dopamine hits the nucleus accumbens, the chemical dopamine, it stimulates a very positive, happy feeling for us. We like that. It’s compelling and we want more of it.

So, when you get, when you’re using a device and you’re reading news or you’re, you know, or you’re seeing an email, it’s triggering a certain amount of dopamine, even if it’s a little negative on the news. It’s triggering a certain amount of dopamine, cause you’re rewarded with a certain amount of stimulation. The stimulation doesn’t all have to be what we think of as happy to be compelling. So, as you get into these things, you start kicking up the dopamine, it starts in the nucleus accumbens. As soon as you stop that and the dopamine stops it in the nucleus accumbens, if you’ve done it long enough, your nucleus accumbens starts telling the rest of your brain, wait, where’s my dopamine? It’s missing the dopamine, and in that regard, it wants that kind of that feeling, and oh my God, I need to pick the phone back up again.

That’s the experience of walking your dog and putting your phone in your pocket, walking the dog for 60 seconds and then, oh, I got to put the phone out of my pocket. And then, and then putting the phone back in and then 60 seconds later, I got to pick the phone back up. I can’t just be outside. I can’t just be there. That’s the part of your brain that’s gotten accustomed to that, and it’s pulling you back in. That’s this kind of habit. It’s not an addiction per se. It might be, but it’s certainly a habit, and that habit prevents us from feeling comfortable not having stuff like that. So, I think about like, you know, I have two kids that are aged 11 and 13. And so, they’ve been at a certain age where they didn’t need me around very much, but they were still not old enough to just go get in the car and go hang out with their friends far away.

During COVID, it was really easy for them to just be inside. And if they had devices with them all the time, they would just be inside and sit there on the devices and they wouldn’t think about anything, but they also wouldn’t socialize. At a certain point in the pandemic, we found our kids looking kind of despondent. And so, we took the devices way, made them bored, and they got up and went outside and they came in happy. Because it took them a while to not have, as soon as they couldn’t do the thing that exercised kind of that pathway I described, they were stimulated to do other types of things, and that was a good thing.

Macie Jepson
We can tell our kids that Dr. Runnels said so. I want to go in a little bit of a different or direction for a minute, because this really worries me with my kids and also with myself. And that’s the Google factor. I mean, we don’t even have to figure things out anymore. We don’t have to dig deep in, like I may know that I know something, but I don’t take the time to even try to remember it because I can Google it. There’s got to be a downside to that.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
So, how many people kind of get into friendly arguments with their friends about who was the name of that? You know, what was that movie or what was that thing that happened to us? And they will argue endlessly and enjoy themselves about a fact none of them can check. And all of a sudden, all that entire communication went away because we just, you know, if it’s a movie, we don’t remember, we just pull up IMDB or some internet search and Google it, and oh yes, that’s so-and-so, and then we’re done. And then someone was right, someone was wrong. We never get to have the fun of arguing about meaningless stuff. It’s gone. The larger point there is when we are constantly at a place where the answers are at our fingertips, our brains aren’t exercising the ability to start thinking through how to solve problems in a way other than it’s immediately at my fingertips.

That’s missing. And when that’s missing, you do wonder. There’s a bit of atrophy of other types of things. You know, just kind of skills. And so, there isn’t something great about that. On the other hand, as a physician, I love that I can very quickly in the middle of an appointment, be like, I don’t remember this tiny little fact, or a patient’s asked a question and I can look it up in a matter of seconds. So, there’s wonderful things about it. But if it’s all we do, then we lose a certain kind of capacity for a certain type of creative thought or a certain type of improvisation or a certain type of deep thought that is just missing a little.

Pete Kenworthy
Is there a recommendation or should there be a recommendation? You know, for years we’ve heard 10,000 steps a day. That’s what’ll keep you in decent shape: walk 10,000 steps. Is there (an option to) spend 30 minutes by yourself? Spend an hour by yourself or even with someone else, do it without technology?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
To your exact question, I don’t know of a study that says 30 minutes of alone time with no stimulation is the right for you to have, I don’t know, to score highly on tests. I don’t think that study, I’m not familiar with that study. That said, there are a lot of studies to show that happiness increases when you’re able to spend deep time on specific things. So, we talked about that kind of constant wave of information coming at me. And when the constant wave of information is coming at me, that means I’m not spending deep time doing anything. We know that deep time, whether that’s with a relationship, if you spend deep time in a, you know, going, this is just as an example, if I commit to going to dinner with my loved one, with my significant other, and I’m at dinner for an hour and we don’t check media and we’re just with each other, our relationship benefits as well. We know that’s the case.

By the same token, when I commit to focusing on a task, you know, something for productivity, I want to write a paper. If I sit down and devote two or three hours to writing that paper, as opposed to trying to do it for 20 minutes, I’m much more likely to get a lot more work done. I’m better at doing it. So, the work product is better. And that we know from studies. So, the point there is, it is absolutely the case that anytime you want to deepen or enrichen, enrich the focus you’re spending on something, being able to do that in this kind of non-distractable way is really good. By the same token, it varies, I’m sure, person to person. But we also, what we say a lot more is limit the amount of time you spend on hyperstimulating, in hyperstimulating settings.

So, don’t, you know, something we’re increasingly recommending to people who are having trouble with focus or concentration or a little bit of dissatisfaction, disconnectedness, is limit your time you’re looking at the news feed to a couple times a day, as opposed to checking it all the time. Limit the amount of time you’re checking your email. You know, there’s a great study that was done by someone named Cal Newport. He’s a PhD in computer science and psychology. And he did a study where, or he looked at a study that compiled, he wrote a book about this called A World Without Email. In that book, one of the studies showed that individuals who were in information fields, you know, and that could be anything that wasn’t like labor, like physical labor, in people in those fields were getting an average of 150 communications a day and were spending a total average all day not checking of about an hour, which is to say there was only an hour in the day where they weren’t kind of going after information from all these different sources and getting distracted and having to do that network switching phenomenon which we talked about. And what he also showed is that the productivity of people who were doing that was actually quite a bit lower than the productivity of people who were having deep focused time on one thing during the day. So, in that regard, so, we have this, as we think about what’s good for us, the more we’re having too much information coming in this chaotic way…our brains can handle a little bit of that…but the more we do that, the less we’re going to get out of the individual activities we’re engaging in.

Pete Kenworthy
And lowers our happiness?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
There’s not a study that I’m familiar with that says people who are checking email eight hours a day, for instance, are less happy than people checking six hours a day. That I don’t think has been done. But we do know that people have higher rates of satisfaction in their work when they’re able to focus on one task and they’re disconnected from those kind of hyperstimulating communication environments.

Pete Kenworthy
And even if we take work out of it, higher satisfaction in life in general?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Absolutely. Yeah.

Macie Jepson
I worry about kids who don’t know it any different. I mean, we talk about the day…Pete, I’m sure you remember days of going outside on your bicycle, not coming home until the sun went down...my kids don’t know that day. And that worries me. If they don’t even know what it feels like to have that kind of life and to be away from technology, should we be worried about these generations that don’t know any different and what can we do about it?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
So, here’s the thing. Kids are quite resilient. And so, the thing for us to know is, you know, email was invented in the ’80s. It started getting used regularly in the ’90s. The internet wasn’t a thing we spent a lot of time with as consumers until the 2000s, you know, or the late ’90s. It wasn’t something, you know, we spent a lot of time with. We’re in a very early stage of civilizational history in which we’re learning and figuring out how to maximize the value of a tool like the internet and the ability to have information at our fingertips and the ability to have entertainment come at us. I’ll use Netflix as an example. Like, you know, we can watch literally any movie we want at any time, anywhere in the world. Doesn’t mean it’s the best way to watch it, but we can. We’re still getting used to that. And you’re seeing a very early part of this where we’re trying to figure out what the right way to use this in our lives as humanity. As a civilization.

So, in one sense, something I tell everybody about this is, it’s okay that we’re not getting it quite right. It’s okay if we are going through the pangs of how do we raise our kids? What’s the right way to do it? How much do we, you know, we’re how many debate, how many people listen to this podcast? You know, if you guys have had the, have ever heard the debate with parents of other kids about, do we get them an iPhone? Or do we not get them an iPhone? Do we allow them to have a Facebook account, or we not allow them to have a Facebook account? If I get them their Facebook account, this risk is there, but if I don’t get them, this risk is there. If we, you know and you know, a lot of parents in my circle said, well, if our kids have something like a smartphone, they can text us, and then I don’t have to worry about when to pick them up. They’ll text me, and then I’ll go pick them up. And that’s valuable for me. All of which is to say is there’s pluses and minuses.

I say to people less than get worried, I say, you know, what I’d say is a little bit more. We ought to be observing and watching our kids and being very interested in our kids and this generation that’s being raised right now being happy and being fulfilled and being able to go out in the world and feel good about they are interacting with the world. And we know right now it’s all over the place. We know from the news…I’m sure that everybody’s seen this…that things like Instagram when you’re checking all time and you’re a girl, you have a much lower self-esteem about your body. This is a thing that, you know, has come out. And these kinds of things are a big deal. We need to know about this. But we don’t know the nature of how we want to use something like Instagram, or we want to use something like Facebook, or we want to even use something like email and how to help people interact. We’re learning. And so, we want to be a parent. We want to stay attuned to things that are clearly negative on the health. And we make sure our kids are able to enjoy themselves and have fulfilling lives and have social relationships.

How that looks is unclear. We don’t have answers to that. We’re just, we’re new at this. And so, we do definitely know, for instance, when kids are depressed. We know when kids have anxiety disorders and we know, and we can connect those deeply, obviously, to certain types of usage of the stuff. So, when someone has a body image issue that leads to depression, and I get them into therapy, we can very quickly make that connection. And there’s actually a whole host of studies that are out there that talk about things like mental health issues as a result of certain types of social media use. But that’s different than just using different types of communication and having a lot of stimulus.

And we also know that kids’ intelligence levels aren’t going anywhere. Kids are still plenty smart. It’s not like everyone got dumber. We know that in an individual moment, my IQ drops if I’m, if I’m overstimulated. So, if I have too much communication, and I have you take an IQ test, you’ll do worse. But over the long run, we don’t have any evidence yet that that persists for the rest of your life. We don’t know. I’m sure there are studies on that. But it’s awfully young to know for sure. The whole point of all this is we probably ought to be thinking about this in terms of our values and what we want for our kids. And if we focus on that, and we focus on what are the things we want our kids to get out of life, how do we ensure that they’re happy? Then we approach it less about you should just not be on that, or you should totally be on that. Or you should, you know, and more towards, are they fulfilled? Are they hitting certain milestones? Are they able to communicate? Are they able to have a conversation? You know, if those things are there, then it’s probably less important as to whether or not they had 30 or 60 minutes of time on the internet.

Macie Jepson
Very good point.

Pete Kenworthy
First, we’ve got to get our own lives in order.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Oh gosh, no. This is a really important point. So, parents are really bad at this. I actually, you know, I’m a Gen Xer, and Gen Xers are actually terrible at managing their relationship with the panoply of communication things. It’s not social media. It’s all the ways I’m checking this. I’m checking that. You know, I can’t let go. My kids are way better at this than I am. My kids who grew up a little bit more with this are far better at be able to say, this is my set aside time for this. And then I don’t want to do this. They spontaneously got into crafts. Like I’m not a craft person. My kids just started doing crafts. And I’ve heard stories of this. Kids do adapt, and they find ways to make this good in a way that we, it hit me when I was like 24, I’m terrible at this.

Pete Kenworthy
Yeah. And it’s interesting because we think these kids growing up with all this technology and social media will do nothing but spend time on it. And what you just said is…I’m also Gen X…I’m the one spending more time on it than they are. And they put their phones down. They do other things, not all the time, but probably more than I do.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Yeah.

Macie Jepson
I’ve never turned off Facebook, and I’ve never turned off my Instagram. My kids have both done that, shut them down for a period of time.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Yeah. I actually got rid of social media, and for no reason than this wasn’t good for me. It wasn’t good for me to look at Facebook. I wasn’t like I needed to get out of there. And it might be fine for people. For me, that was decision I made. And it was a decision that I’ve not regretted.

Macie Jepson
All right. I’m feeling better about things already. Give ourselves a break. Give our kids a break. I like this. Any other takeaways, though, just, you know, what we need to do, what we don’t need to do?

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Takeaway number one. If you are finding yourself unable to put the phone down, if you are having people tell you, hey, put the phone down. If your kids are saying, Dad, you’re on the phone all the time or the computer all the time. If you are yourself, finding yourself stressed by or waking up in the middle of the night trying to check email, you need to find ways to create a lot more space in your life to not be doing that. And the best way to do that is schedule time for those things. So, and say, this time block is when I check email. And other than that, I’m not checking email. That is really hard for a lot of people to do, but that one thing can go a long way. Same thing with news. My time to read the news, cause it’s mostly uncool stuff, is this time of day and this time of day. It doesn’t have to be once, but it has to be demarcated. And then the rest of the day you get used to…your brain will get there…but that ability to kind of demarcate that time is probably the most important thing. That’s the most important thing for you. That’s the most important thing for your kids. If you can do that, that will both increase your ability to enjoy being in the moment, which we know increases happiness overall. And it will also decrease the sense that you can’t get things done or that sense of anxiety and stress.

Pete Kenworthy
Awesome.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
I guess let’s take away number one, two and three. There you go.

Macie Jepson
Really good stuff. Thank you. Very insightful. Dr. Patrick Runnels, Chief Medical Officer of Population Health and Vice Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at University Hospitals, Cleveland Medical Center.

Dr. Patrick Runnels
Thank you very much for having me. This was great.

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