In the business world, a pattern interrupt is anything that forces you to snap out of your automatic thinking. I believe in flashcards. They help us learn new material and remember what we have learned.
We also have adult flashcards. A picture of your dogs or children on your phone or home screen reminds you why you work. A piece of music or song reminds you of your loved one. A book on your shelf or by your bed reminds you that you have something you learned and valued. An award on your wall reminds you of your accomplishments. A shirt from a previous relationship reminds you what you don’t want to return to.
By having visual reminders in your environment, you can shake yourself out of a train of thought. Leaving positive reminders around your environment reminds your brain what you’re doing and encourages moving forward.
A Harvard University, department of psychology, study exposed a senior male group of participants to be away from routines at home and nursing facilities, to live for a week in an environment that was physically similar to where they had lived when they were younger. They discussed historical events as if they were current news￼, took care of their own ADLs and personal needs, and shared photos of their younger selves. A week later, they showed improvement in physical strength, manual dexterity, posture, perception, memory, cognition, taste sensitivity, hearing, and vision. They even showed improved scores on IQ testing. Visual cues within our environment serve as reminders of memories and functioning.
A pattern interrupt can change a person’s behavior patterns that are potentially detrimental to their health, mood, and potential. According to the author of the Harvard study, Dr. Ellen Langer, they may even slow down our aging process. For additional resources see The Psychology of Nostalgia.