If you’re missing the camaraderie among your friends, family, and colleagues during this social distancing mandate, you’re probably not alone. We are transitioning into a new normal. Working remotely is now constant. Instructed to not only work from home but having to remain there paints another uncomfortable picture altogether.
The absence of a stable social and working environment can be an emotional struggle. While the rigorous, at-scale physical-distancing measures can drive a significant reduction in the number of new COVID-19 cases, this practice can also psychologically put us in an emotional slump.
So what do we do?
Focus on your future goals. Your future goals are your hope. It’s a predictor of your wellbeing and positive functioning. This helps you to choose where your attention is, rather than allow the mind to run on automatic pilot and possibly attend to irrelevant, goal-inconsistent activities. As you already know, the mind can easily wander when working from home. The process of future focusing facilitates the balance between the destination and the journey all while removing the struggle to monitor your progress toward goal attainment.
Why Focusing on Future Goals Is Significant
It positions you to connect with your inner self and constantly reflect on the journey. It builds your inner development thus making you stronger in the pursuit of your plans.
It brings out your optimism. With a more joyful outlook on life, you’re in a much better position to enhance your wellbeing.
It makes you a better problem solver. Future challenges are inevitable however your developed awareness prepares you with the skills to handle what’s next.
It enhances your decision-making skills to enable you to explore alternative approaches and think through “what if” scenarios.
It encourages a creative frame of mind to be willing to take a step back and ask yourself if there is a better way of getting the desired results.
It strengthens your self-control muscle which will help you resist short-term urges and impulses that interferes with pursuing your longer-term goals.
If you’ve hit a slump while in social isolation or otherwise, here are some guidelines to increase your cognitive functioning and focus.
- Exercise every day. Make this a morning habit to bump up the production of your brain’s feel-good neurotransmitters called endorphins. There are many online exercise videos to choose from. Exercising won’t only provide long term benefits to your attention span, but it will also boost your physical and mental health.
- Listen to classical music. Researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine concluded that listening to classical music may activate the attention centers of your brain. Its tempo is similar to the human heart and can relieve stress and depression. It can help increase dopamine secretion, which activates the brain’s reward and pleasure center. Music can help put you in a better mood to focus on what’s important.
- Set boundaries. Remove the distractions. Even a disruption as short as 2.8 seconds long doubles your chances of making an error and losing your focus. Start with creating a designated workspace, ideally a spare room with a door. A partitioned section of a room with a “do not disturb” note can work if no spare room is available.
- Take breaks often. Ruminating over being separated from the activities of the world of work can obscure your attention span. Setting a reminder to take a break every hour can help you return to your task with improved attention.
- Pick up the phone and call. If you’re used to running ideas by others or debating with colleagues, pick up the phone and call. Connecting is a core human need that boosts feelings of wellbeing and improves your mood.
- Give yourself a hug. Know that you already have the resources and strengths to solve your problems.
- Appreciate. Dive into the appreciation of what’s already going well instead of focusing on what’s not.
- Eat dark chocolate. Eating chocolate once a week is associated with better cognitive function and improves blood flow to parts of the brain where it was needed.
There’s already plenty of doom and groom in the media so pulling away to focus on what matters to you is a game-changer.
Turn your attention to your future. I’m sure it’s a bright one.
Written by Dr. Deana Murphy. Have you read?
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