**Please don't read this**


My first information diet was back in 2009 when I was struggling with burnout. I found it had a very positive effect on my mental health, but it isn’t just a great idea for mental health, it is a really valuable exercise to promote optimal cognitive function.

So, what is an information diet? The idea is to limit the amount of information we consume each day. With the prevalence of smart phone usage and social media this is more important than ever. It is very easy to be consuming information whether it be news, emails, social media posts or videos almost non-stop. A 2022 Uswitch survey found that in the UK the average adult screen time, in addition to any screen related work, is 5 hours!!! Imagine what this is doing to our brains….

It is not just the extra burden we put on our minds to process this information that is an issue, it is the fact that without a concerted effort, smartphones stop us from giving our minds any time off at all. They are designed to hack our dopamine pathways and make us addicted to checking our phones to get ‘more information’ whenever we have a free moment. When we are waiting in a queue for lunch, on the train, cooking dinner, going out for dinner, going to the loo, or even taking a walk the temptation is to get the phone out and consume more information.

We are all busy and we all have real problems and issues to solve. By giving our brains some time when they aren’t consuming new information, by creating a ‘gap in our thoughts’, we allow our minds time to catch up, and process and work through the important things that our minds will actually add value by spending brain cycles on.

What am I doing this January?

👍 Only checking the news once a day and not until the afternoon so it doesn’t distract me from the main issues I need to work on each day

👍 Turning off all email, messaging and social media notifications on my phone and scheduling fixed times each day to review them

👍 Not checking the markets every 15 minutes – I don’t have any big trades on so I don’t need to know every movement in the global markets (old habits die hard)

👍 Meditating for at least 10 minutes, ideally 20, every morning before doing anything

This last one I would highly recommend to everyone, not just for their mental health by to optimise their cognitive function. From all the cognitive function data we have at OwnLife, those who practice more than 5 minutes Mental Exercise per day record 12% higher cognitive function! This is massive difference – increasing cognitive performance by 12% on average can transform your life and help you achieve more and stress less.

I actually hope you didn’t stop reading this article, and that it makes you think about what and how you consume information a bit more

Credit to Tim Ferriss and his book 'The 4 hour work week' for introducing the Information Diet concept many years ago – it was hugely valuable to me 😀

#mentalhealth #cognitivescience

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