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Pinball Mind: Are You Distracted?

You're talking to a friend about a movie you watched yesterday, but for the life of you can't remember the title.

You're struggling to remember anything these days, unless it is written on the calendar or your to-do list.

Your mind feels like a computer with twelve windows open and multiple programs running in the background.

Distraction and overwhelm is something I hear a lot of these days. When we have trouble focusing, (and we otherwise have no medical or mental health issues that could contribute to memory issues or loss of focus) just the simple every day life--modern day lifestyle--can be the culprit.

What I see a ton of is that we are consumed by "involuntary attention"--that feeling that we are "always on" or always available. Having access to the 24 hour news cycle, the pull of social media, and that work in days of COVID continues to often online or partially so. We are wedded to technology, and our brains are showing it.

When we divert our attention, even involuntarily, away from the tasks that we want to focus on, our productivity suffers. The brain is not meant to have low level stress impacting it 24/7, and as a result, we have memory lapses, forgetfulness, distractibility, not to mention other physical issues related to stress.

What would it be like if you "closed" some of those mental windows that are open? What would that look like?

Some tips to get you started:

1. Set a limit on when you're checking your phone/news/social media. Most newer phones these days are equipped with monitoring software--go into settings and check out app limits. Start small--habit changes don't happen overnight!

2. Set boundaries around who you talk to in your "off" hours. Consider who in your life are supports and increase how much you connect with them. Coniser those who are "suckers" of your energy and time, and start to be clear about how much you connect with these folks.

3. Be intentional when you structure your time to yourself. Your self-care can include other folks, but be cognizant of your focus while you are taking time to yourself. When you are taking your long-awaited self-care soothing nighttime bath, and you find your mind wandering off into next day's tasks, take a deep breath, release your muscles and resume your awareness into the here and now. Mindfulness works!

4. Practice progressive muscle relaxation. It is proven to increase self-awareness into our patterns of stress, improve our ability to be in the moment, and increase our relaxation response.

Our brains jump around like little pinballs especially when they sense threat to our safety and security. When we begin to increase our awareness of our muscle tension, bring our attention back to the moment, then we become smarter than our brains. We are able to "hack" into our impulses to fight or flight that cause memory lapses and distractibility, and instead become more centered and move into the authentic and enjoyable life we want to live.

Be well,


PS. If you feel like your distraction or memory lapses are causing distress and affecting your life more times than not, it is time to reach out to a health professional or licensed counselor. Reach out to me here for referrals or consultation. This blog is not for prescriptive or mental health advice and is for informational purposes only. If you have questions or conners, reach out to your doctor or a licensed health professional today.

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