Learning to focus your attention away from stressful thoughts

Kristin Boyles, Op/Ed Assistant Editor

I’ve come to realize that focus is something I need more of in my life. It’s not that I can’t get my homework done or that I get don’t do my job at Giant because I have trouble focusing on what I am doing. I can be focused when I want to be.

I guess the problem arises when I’m not doing homework or not at Giant or not invested in a movie or TV show that I love. My mind starts to wander and that is when my anxiety takes hold.

I’ve noticed this tends to happen to me more and more these days. I’ll be sitting in my car driving home and my thoughts turn into worries. 

Or I’ll be standing at the self-checkout at 7 a.m. on a Saturday when there’s no one around and my mind turns into a whirlwind of trepidation.

Yet, if I’m at work and one of the co-workers I talk to is nearby, I focus on talking to them and listening to what they have to say. If you take that variable away, my mind begins to wander.

This happens to me at slow points during my day and no, it doesn’t matter where I am. 

I could be at home, at school, at work, driving to Williamsport, or doing just about anything. My mind just won’t settle down.

To try and combat this the past few days, I’ve tried a few different tactics. My room is usually a mess, so I decided to pull up my Spotify on my TV, play my ‘Favorites’ playlist, and clean my room while bopping around to music. It worked.

I also chose to play music as I got around for school while lip-syncing and dancing and, sure enough, it worked. And it made me feel good, too.

I don’t know if any of you experience this same problem, but if you do, I suggest trying to find something to focus your attention on. 

It could be literally anything. Put on that movie you’ve been waiting to see. Throw yourself a dance party. Clean your room. Write a story. Draw a picture. Hang out with friends. Bake some cookies or play a sport.

Granted, I just tried this within the last week, but I’ve actually made this observation before. 

Last summer, I got out the big sketch book I have and never use and decided to draw a picture one day and found myself feeling happier and less worried.

The problem is, of course, staying committed to keeping your mind focused. I’ve yet to be successful in this area, but I think it’s important we all try. 

It’s a process; it will take time to make progress. I’m at least willing to try. I can only hope you are too.

Kristin is a junior English major and Assistant Opinions and Editorial Editor for the Voice.