A little stress can help your ability to focus. But too much stress can make focusing very challenging.
Fortunately, studies have shown there are many ways to reduce stress and improve your ability to focus. Just a minute or two can be enough to enhance your productivity and sense of wellbeing.
Relieve your stress and regain your focus:
1. Meditate. It’s not necessary to be an experienced yogi to use meditation as a tool in your life. Anyone can learn to meditate. It’s just a specialized way of paying attention.
• Use a timer. It’s not easy to watch a clock and meditate at the same time. Set a timer for five minutes.
• Sit or lie down, if possible. It’s possible to stand or walk while meditating, but sitting is easiest for most. Most importantly, be comfortable and sit or stand straight. This isn’t the time for slouching.
• Try to stay focused on your breathing for the full five minutes. As random thoughts appear, bring your attention back to your breath.
• It’s that simple! Meditation is a simple and powerful tool to have in your self-management toolbox.
2. Flex and relax every muscle in your body. If you’re not in an environment conducive to meditation, there’s another option. Start at your feet. Flex and relax each muscle in your body. When you’re done, you should be totally relaxed and ready to reengage with life.
3. Be mindful. There’s nothing mystical about being mindful. It’s simply paying attention to what you’re doing. Whether you’re driving your car or typing on your computer, keep your mind on the topic at hand. You’ll do a better job and relieve much of your stress.
• This is preferable to worrying or daydreaming. Avoid thinking about the past or the future. Keep your mind your current activity.
4. Get physical. Moving around gets the blood flowing and alters your brain chemistry. It also changes your focus. Climb a few flights of stairs or do some calisthenics. A few minutes of strenuous activity can relieve stress and enhance your focus. Post-exercise endorphins feel good, too.
5. Laugh. Few activities feel better than laughter. Laughter has been shown to reduce stress and fatigue. When you feel better, it’s easier to focus. Watch a funny video or read a few jokes. Call a friend that knows how to make you laugh.
6. Chew a piece of gum. A few studies have shown that chewing gum lowers cortisol levels. Cortisol is a hormone associated with stress.
7. Nap. Snoozing for a few minutes can be a great way to reset your brain. Avoid napping for too long or you’ll feel groggy.
8. Hugging, kissing, and sex are also effective stress relievers. This might not be a viable option in the workplace, but it might be just the ticket at home. Interestingly, just talking about sex has been shown to reduce stress.
9. Breathe deeply. One minute of deep breathing can refresh your brain. Keep track of your breathing for 60 seconds and enjoy the feeling of calm that results. Try to spend a full five seconds each on the inhalation and exhalation. In addition, pause for five seconds breaths. That’s 15 seconds per breath. It’s not quite as easy as it sounds.
If you’re stressed, your mind is elsewhere. Reducing stress is the best way to enhance your ability to focus. Take advantage of the many quick techniques to eliminate or minimize stress.
You can get back on track quickly and easily. Try each technique and evaluate its effectiveness for you. You’ll be relieved that you did.