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Mind on Target in a Crazy World

Dashing from left to right to get the right paperwork paperclipped, mobile going off, racing to a meeting while quickly taking a detour to the ceramic throne room.

For some, it may be a usual day in the office; for others, a scenario that does not sound too inviting. These sketched scene may have taken place on the office floor, at home, or perhaps at another place where stress may rise to infinite heights. We all have been into such situations.

Everyone knows that stress can be pure mental mayhem. An environment where some thrive and others preferably race back home and jump back into bed. All in the hope that things subdue in a spiffy and a jiff. And secretly hoping that whatever your superiors or family throw at you is swinging back into oblivion like a boomerang. 

But stress can also take place when you think you have everything sorted. Just add a pandemic to the WFH situation and a whole new playbook opens up. You’re all settled, coffee at your left, notebook and pen at your right, and your favourite tunes gently flowing through your room. Your laptop is all fired up to receive your fingertips doing its ticking magic. And nothing comes out of you as soon as your mobile goes ‘ping’ with the latest update about this Mexican Beer Flu.

Emphasize “pandemic” in the above paragraph aligned with a new form of stress.

Our minds are currently overloaded with all that’s thrown at us in a digital format. We are constantly consumed by its drawing power, just like Romeo towards his beloved Juliet. It plays around in your mind, even when you believe you have it under control. You want to know it from one side because when chatting with your friends and family. You do not want to be the odd one left out when talking about it. Or what side-effects have been found around getting jabbed with vaccination ‘X” are seen as matters of immense importance.  

At the office, stress equals being too occupied thinking, planning, typing, and organizing six things at the same time. At home, a new form of pandemic stress has risen to the surface. Perhaps not with the force of a tornado on the corporate floor, but still boiling up to unleash its tsunami of thoughts and worries. We start either to procrastinate (because the hunger to know the facts is strong), start to find solace in snacking, or follow in the same path as the outlined corporate stress situation – to bed!

In short: we use up energy but ineffectively and not towards a desired goal.

In both scenarios, proper energy management can be a powerful tool to get things under control. The acts of losing focus and setting priorities crash like a house of cards. We want to do it. We need to do it, because we are all sucked into a vortex that things have to be done…now. But we cannot do it because cortisol is taking control. We start to lose focus; our brain shuts down; and we get upset because things are not getting done. 

I know from experience that it can be very hard to keep your mind on target during these demanding times. And especially where change and uncertainty is a daily constant.

While we may believe that nutrients are the sole source of energy, we actually carry an energy source with us that has been proven to be an extremely powerful tool.

Our breath.

I have learned to take a step back when my cortisol levels are rising. When I lose focus, I take a short break, resetting my mind before moving back into the real world. A great anchor for me is my so-called Circles of Control for diverting my energy to my life’s topics.

Pressure can cause us to hit a blank and lose our concentration completely. By relieving the pressure even for e brief moment through deep breathing (4 seconds in, hold for 4 seconds and 4 seconds out – 4 – 5 times in a row, eyes closed), I can frequently regain my focus. A simple technique to handle stress that is with us all the time.

If this does not give me the mental clarity I need, I write down the things I am grateful for.

Simple yet powerful.

One wise man once told me that time is a currency. Taking this simple step back when time does not exchange well, you may lose interest over a short period, but the value of it remains intact.

Life isn’t measured by the number of breaths we take, but by the moments that take our breath away | Maya Angelou

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