Stressed? Overwhelmed? Unable to focus? Want a simple fix?

Girl Pulling Hair Out

I’d be preaching to the choir if I said most of us are stressed and overwhelmed with too much on our plates and a real inability to focus.  That’s a given.   So what?

The ‘so what’ is that we are taxing our brains to try to multi-task and get everything done. But neuroscientists will tell you that there is no such thing as true multi-tasking; the brain must stop one task to begin another – unless one of the tasks is a rote physical habit like breathing or walking.  All the stopping and starting is creating a brain drain that leaves you slower and less effective at handling the tasks you are trying to manage.  In fact, you can lose up to 40% of your productivity in a day!

So in our attempt to be more productive, we are actually less so.  Now what?  Is there a simple fix for this?  Yes.  Researchers at Harvard Medical School and various others support a technique that causes physiological changes to the brain which enable better focus and attention as well as better emotion control.  Who wouldn’t want that, right?

It’s called Mindfulness Meditation and it focuses on breathing to bring your mind back to the present moment.  With practice, this leads to greater ability to keep your attention on now and resist the fight or flight response under stress.  There are also a variety of other health benefits, like a better immune system and decreased sensitivity to pain.

So how do we do this?  If you can spare fifteen minutes a day, you can develop the mind discipline to keep your stress at bay and your attention in focus.  Think of it as a daily brain workout, much like you’d do for your body to keep physically fit.  Here’s what to do:

  • Sit in a quiet, comfortable position with your feet on the ground and your spine erect. You may wish to close your eyes to limit distractions.
  • Begin to pay attention to your breathing.  Just notice where your breath goes when it enters and leaves your body. Don’t attempt to change the way you breathe necessarily, just focus on being aware of it.
  • Keep your thoughts on your breathing.  If your mind wanders, simply take note that it has and gently bring your attention back to your breathing. No scolding yourself!
  • Continue to be aware of your breathing for fifteen minutes.

Try this at least once a day for two weeks and see what happens.  There is no ‘right way’ to do this so just observe what happens when you do it.

Thank you for reading.  And remember, it’s your choice so make it a great day!

 

 

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