We get it. The back to school routine has turned your stress levels up to 11 this year. Many of us are beyond stressed about how heavily COVID-19 is weighing on everything - making it nearly impossible to concentrate on important adulting, like work and responsibilities.
Left unchecked, high stress levels can contribute to health problems like high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity + diabetes. Covid’s enough to worry about, thank you very much. So we want to help kick down your stress a notch, and rev up your focus so you can survive the new remote normal.
Btw - there’s an actual scientific reason why you’re having a hard time paying attention at work – acute stress damages your working memory (a part of short-term memory that is important for reasoning, decision making and behavior) and makes it harder to pay attention. Here are a few tips that really helped us:
1. Set goals.
Duh. But also: ohhhh yeah! It’s super easy to get away from this awesome practice when you’re just trying to get through the next thing all the time. By definition, goals are short-term motivation for long-term visions. We like to start by setting really simple goals – like reply to all our emails by end-of-week. Now that you’ve defined the goal, develop a plan. This can just be a checklist of all the tasks needed to reach that goal.
Also fun fact: your goals don’t have to be work-related to have a positive impact on work habits. You could set a goal to exercise before work 3x per week. When you exercise, you improve brain function, reduce stress + ensure you wake up in plenty of time for work - in order to rinse + repeat.
Finally, don’t be afraid to go(al) big! Remember the fine words of our friend Joan on Mad Men: “Sometimes when people get what they want, they realize how limited their goals were.”
2. Get outside.
We already talked about exercise being one fab way to get focused. In general, just going outside for some fresh air + vitamin D can help you stay focused throughout the day. Recent studies have actually linked vitamin D deficiency with an increased risk of contracting COVID-19 - zoinks! With lockdown being a thing for far too long, a lot of us are probably lacking the recommended levels.
Whenever you feel that sluggishness coming on, take a break with a socially distant walk ‘round the block. Trust us, it’s the reset you need to crush the rest of your day.
3. Take your vitamins + herbs.
Contrary to that meme, your decades-old Flinstones’ vitamins aren’t coming to your rescue now. But man, would it be cool if they did. Your parents knew even back then that vitamins are critical for healthy brain function. While we’re all for trying to get the recommended levels of zinc, iron, vitamin C, vitamin B + magnesium (brain health nutrients) from good ol’ food, having a daily vitamin routine can help fill in the deficiency gaps.
Also, having an herb routine is an easy way to manage the stress + anxiety of your day. When we need an extra dose of calm, we take Run the World - but whatever works for you!
4. Get acupuncture or acupressure.
We love acupuncture for improving focus + attention. A trained acupuncturist can help clear your mind by placing needles in specific pressure points. Nowhere near an expert acupuncturist? You can still use acupressure tools (like our acupressure mat) or your own hands to trigger your pressure points.
When you’re distracted at work and having a hard time remembering tasks, these acupressure points can help get you back in the zone:
- Bai hui – the crown of the head between the cranial bones. To find this point, follow the line from the back of both ears to the top of the head. Applying pressure here is believed to provide mental clarity + boost memory.
- Yang bai – on your forehead, above the middle of your eyes. It’s one finger width above your eyebrows. Believed to be a great pressure point for improving memory.
- Third eye point – in the indentation where the nose bridge meets the forehead directly between the eyebrows. Good for improving concentration + memory.
- Shui gou – between your nose + top lip. This point is good for grounding you + increasing creativity.
We know everyone always tells you this. Because it’s true. If you’re feeling anxious or unfocused, deep breaths can reduce tension and our fight-or-flight stress response. Practicing belly breathing can lower your stress levels, lower blood pressure + help you pay attention.
One important note: if you still find yourself struggling to focus or feeling really stressed out, we always encourage our clients to talk to a professional. Sometimes all we need is a neutral person to listen and provide perspective - and teach us specific coping techniques tailored to our own unique needs during a difficult time (understatement).
To help, New York State launched a COVID-19 Emotional Support Hotline to provide FREE mental health counseling to residents. If counseling’s not your thing, staying connected to family + friends in a meaningful way is also hugely helpful - which we’re sure you already know, but we all need to be reminded from time to time. After all, stress is time consuming right?