• Estimated read time: 4 Minutes
  • Date posted:11/02/2022
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 In episode #2 of Talent Acquisition Matters, we were excited to be joined by TJ Power, who is the Founder of The Digital Mind.   

He studied neuroscience and lectured in psychology, spending his time researching and understanding the connection between technology and mental health.  

We had the opportunity to sit down and pick his brains about everything tech and mental health-related – we hope you enjoy it! 

How can we change some of the habits that we’ve got despite living in a fast-paced, connected world?

“I’m not someone who hates tech, I’ve loved tech my whole life. But given my love for it, and my desire to use my phone, my laptop, all of these different things regularly, I’ve become quite conscious of how it does affect the mind, how it increases your thinking, maybe increases worry, all of these different things. And in terms of some guidance, I would say one of the most important things is starting to have a bit more of an intentional relationship with the tech you have around you. And starting to find spaces throughout your day when you’re actually disconnected from it. 

It’s very easy nowadays, to wake up, the alarm goes off, and instantly you’re somehow on LinkedIn, or you’re in your email within 20 seconds of waking up. You can actually spend very, very little time disconnected from the machines. I think it’s important to periodically, throughout the day, have moments where your mind is actually just on its own, able to recharge its batteries effectively, and kind of consolidate all this noise that’s buzzing around.” 

How can we create a healthier work-life balance?

“The big thing to recognise is, we have this wonderful chemical in our brain called dopamine, which I’m sure you’ve heard of. And dopamine is the thing that motivates us to do stuff. So, when you get out of bed, go and eat food, exercise, go and talk to people, do your work, dopamine is coming into your brain and motivating you to do it. Similarly, the phone provides us with dopamine. So, when you refresh your emails to see whether a client has come back to you, or you go on social media, or you see if your friends replied about that fun thing on the weekend, the dopamine is what’s connecting you in and motivating you into the fight.  

The difficulty is because we’re periodically experiencing so much dopamine throughout the day from the phone, we’re exhausting the resource effectively. So, we’re boosting it all the way up, and then it’s forcing it to drop down.  

So, in terms of why to find a bit of a balance between work and life, I think that’s a powerful thing to motivate you to consider. Because anytime you’re spending a period of time away from your phone away from your computer, you’re recharging this chemical. So, when you step out of your office at lunch, I think that’s a perfect thing to do.  

On the weekends, I try and set myself these little periods of time like two or three hours, maybe on a Saturday morning, Sunday afternoon, whatever it’ll be, really try to disconnect and try and leave it behind. And it can be a bit boring when you do that our mind so kind of habitually inclined to experience stimulation now. But I’ve actually found that in the boredom, great for recharging your brain. But it’s also great for kind of your mood and your creativity. Creativity is pretty important in our life in our work, how we navigate our experience, sometimes disconnecting from the tech, focusing on your own personal life actually enables you to get into more creative spaces that can help the work.” 

How does exercise influence our minds?

“When in nature instantly, as soon as you’re in a natural setting, you begin to see a rise in the activation of serotonin. So, that’s why your mood may slightly lift. The other component is there’s this thing called rumination, which is where our minds repetitively worry and overthink. I had this yesterday; it had been one of those very fast-paced days. I got to about 5:30 pm, and my mind was fried.  

So, I went out on my walk, at the time, I was thinking, I can’t be bothered for a walk, I could just go lie on the sofa, or whatever it may be. So, I went out for this walk because i wanted to feel better, and I did! 

There’s some really cool research into this where they put a live brain scanner on someone’s head, and they have someone walk through a city, an urbanised setting, and then they walk through a natural setting like a park or through a forest. When you’re in a city, you typically see the mind gravitate to what’s called your default mode network.  

That’s what’s in the centre of the brain, associated with lots of thinking and worrying. When you’re in nature, you see this sudden shift in the activation, where the energy is to the front of your brain, which is called your prefrontal cortex.  

The prefrontal cortex is what activates when you’re particularly engaged in something. So if you’re really listening right now, that would be the prefrontal cortex. When we’re in nature, you get this rush into the prefrontal cortex. The reason is that we’re effectively in our home, where we’re designed to be. When you come back to your work, you suddenly have a completely recharged level of energy because your mind effectively had a break when it’s out there.” 

Every 2 weeks we sit down with some of the most engaging, innovative Talent Acquisition professionals [globally/UK etc]. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts and Spotify to get alerts when new episodes are posted!  

Fraser Dove International is a talent consultancy operating exclusively across the life sciences industry. While our roots lie in executive search, we provide more than the traditional recruitment services. Uniquely placed within the market, we have been providing cutting-edge talent solutions and insight to organisations at all stages of their journey – from start-ups to established leaders – since 2013.