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Is Criticism Harming Your Health?...And What to Do Instead

Science confirms it: too much chaotic noise in one’s environment can have a debilitating impact on the human nervous system.

Unfortunately, on top of excess environmental noise, most of us are also dealing with excess mind noise on a daily basis--mental chatter that can increase stress while stifling creativity and joy. However, FSorb’s wellness experts say there is something creatives - like architects and designers - can do for a quieter mind and enhanced creative flow: get reign of your critical brain.

Many people think criticism is necessary for problem solving and an important motivator for improvement. But scientists have long shown that being in a state of mental criticism—that internal voice that looks for what’s wrong in yourself, others, or your environment—is a form of mind noise that is especially detrimental to health and happiness.

When active, the area of the brain responsible for monitoring and finding fault shuts down the area of the brain responsible for peak creativity, and vice versa. In other words, the inner critic cannot exist at the same time as peak creative flow.

Self-criticism in particular harmful to wellbeing, and had been shown to contribute to relational conflict, depression, anxiety, negative self-image, substance abuse, and a decrease in motivation and productivity.

The truth is at some point we all find things that frustrate, annoy or even repulse us, whether it’s something about ourselves, others, or life in general. Is it truly possible to “shut off” the fault-finding brain and simply ignore all there is to criticize out there (or over here)? Before you fall into the trap of criticizing yourself for being critical, give your critical brain a different thing to search for—that which you appreciate.

Switching into appreciation mode has multiple positive benefits. From a health standpoint, appreciation practices reduce stress and help keep people healthy. One study showed that writing about gratitude for 10 weeks, as opposed to writing about daily complaints, resulted in greater optimism, more motivation to exercise, and fewer visits to physicians. When it comes to the workplace, 80% of people are willing to work harder for an appreciative boss, and 70% said they wish their boss thanked them more.

Appreciation and gratitude have been shown to have striking impacts on brain function, increasing serotonin production (similar to the impact of antidepressant drugs), stimulating the hypothalamus (which regulates things like sleep and metabolism) and increasing dopamine, which encourages your brain to seek out more of the same trigger. In short, appreciation is a mood-boosting, weight and sleep regulating habit that’s addictive. But unlike other addictions, this one is actually good for you!

One common appreciation-mastering tool is called a gratitude practice. Every night or morning, commit to setting aside 15 minutes to write a list of things you appreciate about your day, yourself, others, or your life on the whole.

Other ways to practice appreciation:

~Write someone a thank you note

~Tell a friend or coworker something you appreciate about them

~Sit in a quiet place and think about something that went well

At FSorb, we like to appreciate well designed acoustic environments. Whether it's a room designed with acoustic solutions, or a peaceful spot out in nature, we love the way quiet spaces boost our sense of health and creative flow.

What are some things that you appreciate? Whatever your favorite ways are to practice the art of appreciation, implementing them consistently can have a powerful impact on your health and wellbeing.



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