You’ve got a paper to write, a test to study for, and three more chapters to read by the end of the day. You’re doing your best but you just can’t seem to focus for very long. You’re worried about your grade, that comment your friend made, your significant other hasn’t called, or the test score that wasn’t ideal. You keep getting distracted by these thoughts no matter how hard you try. The attention that should be on your work just isn’t happening and your anxiety is building on top of what’s already there.
Sound familiar? A lot of students face anxiety these days. Statistics show that 1 in 4 of your friends and family will have some diagnosis of mental illness and anxiety is a big one. You’re not alone there.
So how do we get our focus back?
Take a break
Get up and walk around. Do something else for a few minutes. Stretch, read a book, get something to drink, etc. Just take a break and come back in a few minutes.
Write it out
If the thoughts are swirling and you’re overthinking, obsessing, and/or catastrophizing, grab some scrap paper or your journal and take 10-15 minutes to just write it all out. Stream of conscious writing is great for giving the chaotic thoughts a more logical side.
Take a few minutes to sit back and focus only on your breathing. Thoughts will still come, but you let them pass just as quickly. Don’t interact with them. Come back in a better place.
Perhaps the problem is just that you’ve been working on this project for too long. Get to a place where you can stop and switch tasks for a bit. Stop writing the paper and go read your chapter. Come back to the paper with fresh eyes.
Go for a walk
Getting some fresh air can do wonders for your focus. It’ll allow you to get a new perspective, some exercise, and some more creative thoughts.
A change of environment can be just what you need to get a new sense of focus. Try going to the library, try out a new cafe, or do your work outside.
Turn off your phone
Life drama, social media, and problems will still be going on in the background, but if your phone is off then no one can drag you into it. It’ll give you the time and space necessary to get some work done.
Anxiety can make it incredibly hard to focus. Knowing how to shake things up and resettle can be the difference between not getting your work done and doing your best work. Share your best tips to regain focus in the comments down below.