Do you ever find yourself looking up from the computer and just wondering where the last 30 minutes went?
There’s nothing wrong with spending time on social media or browsing your favorite blogs or online news sites, when that’s really what you want to be doing. But I know I can easily get caught up in reading things online when I really should be working on something else.
Sometimes I find myself spending lots of time on a task like responding to email, which is actually useful, but isn’t necessarily the best use of my time at the moment. There are lots of tasks, particularly online, that are difficult to break away from in order to focus on something else. When you feel tired, bored, or overwhelmed, it’s especially easy to get caught up in them.
One of the best solutions I’ve found involves changing your energy level, either by calming down the buzz of anxiety or stress, or by disrupting the dull inertia of boredom or fatigue. Here are some simple things you can do in just a couple of minutes to alter your energy pattern so you can choose your next actions with more awareness.
Simply getting up out of your chair and moving physically away from the computer can sometimes be enough to alter your perception and change your focus: you breathe differently standing up and you see different things in your visual field. Whatever additional movement you can add beyond that will help bring more oxygen into your bloodstream, energizing your nervous system and your mind. For example:
- take a quick walk, even if it’s just around the room or down the hallway and back
- walk or run up and down a flight of stairs
- bend, twist, and stretch
- do a set of pushups, jumping jacks, or squats
Even if your physical condition or environment limits your ability to move, you always have the opportunity to breathe more deeply and with more awareness.
- try just gently bringing your attention to your inhalations for five breaths
- if you’re feeling anxious or stressed, you can try 4-7-8 breathing: inhale for four counts, hold your breath for 7, and exhale for 8 counts
- closing your eyes and breathing helps produce more alpha waves in the brain, which enhance focus (here’s a one-minute audio to guide you)
Taking a minute to connect with a loved one, whether directly or simply in your thoughts, can ease stress and help you feel grounded.
- look at a photo of a loved one and hold that person in your thoughts
- pet or play with a companion animal
- briefly talk, text, or email someone you care about
Few of us can walk away from the computer and immediately be in a beautiful natural setting. But bringing your attention to something natural, even in the typical home or work environment, can change your focus.
- go outside and experience the weather, whatever it is, just for a minute or two
- close your eyes and listen to the sounds of wind, birds, insects, or rain
- look at or touch a living plant or tree, whether inside or outside
Running water energizes and relaxes many people, even when it’s not in a natural setting.
- stand or sit near a fountain
- take a shower (one of the best ways to change your energy, though not always feasible)
- run cold water over your wrists
- drink a glass of water
Even simple actions can make a big difference in your energy, stamina, and focus. Experiment and figure out which ones work well for you!