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Focusing in life is so important no matter what we do. Staying focused allows us to accomplish more, to soar to greater heights. It helps us soar higher and higher by blocking out all the things that would distract us from our goal. When we are distracted, we are not able to give our full energy to our task.

Focusing also helps us to remain mindful of our world and us. When we focus on our task, we see only what we are focusing on; nothing is able to distract us. Focusing is also good for those of us with mental illnesses that are characterized by racing thoughts, bouts of mania, emotional dysregulation, just to name a few. It helps us ground by focusing ourselves on controlling our reactions, our feelings, our impulses.

Staying focused is not easy. It takes a good deal of training through a number of different exercises. The same things do not work for everyone.

The first example I have would be to choose a task and repeat it repeatedly, but the part that makes it useful would be that every time you get distracted, you stop and restart the task. Keep doing this until you complete the task based on a pre-determined goal. Then start over again, but now add a distraction. Once you have mastered that, add a bigger distraction or more distractions. Keep repeating this pattern until you feel confident that you can keep your focus no matter how bad the distractions are.

I remember that someone I knew once was having trouble staying focused on what they were supposed to do, so I asked them if they were up for a little ‘assignment’ so to speak. Since they’re lack of focus was causing them a number of problems they were willing to give just about anything ‘sane’ a try. I told them to choose a topic, open a word document and start writing on the topic. Once they became distracted, they were to quit the program without saving, losing everything they had done. They would keep repeating this until they were able to get through a pre-established goal of paragraphs without letting themselves be distracted. Once they accomplished that, they should try again, but adding a small distraction, e.g. a radio playing softly in the background. They would keep the pattern going adding more distractions until they felt they could stay focused even in challenging situations. I am not sure how far they ever got with this training exercise, or if it even worked.

Then of course there is classic meditation, there are so many techniques that are out there, ways that I know little to nothing about. The best advice I have there is to research them if you have an interest in them.

Another option is to go somewhere outdoors and quiet, e.g. mountains or woods, and just listen to the sounds, feel the feelings, smell the smells and let it all draw you in slowly. Focus on savoring the stimulations of your senses. Just absorb nature.

There are so many other ways, but ironically enough, I am having trouble focusing right now. Since I can’t focus, I will end this entry for the night. Hopefully I will revisit it soon.




Posted: May 6th, 2011 under Thoughts on Mental Health.

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