Life is hectic, there’s no getting around that. It’s not enough that you have to be fully present for work and get meals prepared. To say that you’re overwhelmed by the worry and responsibilities from your world feeling out of control is an understatement.
If someone asks you to make one more decision, you’re sure your brain will actually break.
How can you stay focused on what’s important when you feel it’s your job to keep everyone and everything from falling apart?
Meditation definitely lays the foundation and giving your emotions space of their own helps to clear the cobwebs, but being the cerebral person that I am, I realize I also need to harness my over-thinking mind.
I don’t do sudokus and memorize poems (though as I just turned 50, these may not be such a bad idea). Enriching my mind means mindset, more than my actual thoughts, and then applying it to the practical needs of my day.
Here are two steps to staying focused throughout your day:
1. Embodied Affirmations
The other day, I wrote of affirmations being part of soul nourishment, but as I think more on it, I realize that affirmations are words that emerge from the soul, which you can then digest through your mind and body.
Let me explain.
I’m sure you know that affirmations are statements you repeat to yourself, as a tool for shifting beliefs you hold, by “recording” new messages into your inner monologue. They’ve become part of the mainstream, though get a bad rap when they have no apparent effect.
The power of affirmations comes in the follow through, as part of a more integrated approach to creating lasting change.
It’s not enough to simply say the words to yourself. In order for your mind to actually assimilate them, you have to feel the truth of the words and take action as if they were true. That is, you have to embody the words.
Using affirmations in this way works for health issues, work problems, relationships,… Let’s look at the example of a poor eating habit, such as grazing when your stress & emotions get out of hand.
An affirmation to shift that habit might look like, “I eat only when hungry.” or “I plan meals that nourish me adequately throughout the day.” or “I breathe through pain & stress with ease.” Repeat in the mirror every morning, or when the urge to open the fridge hits, and you can eventually say them in your sleep, that is, without conscious thought. This part is valuable to a certain extent, as the words then drop down into your subconscious, like the coloured beads in Inside Out.
However, if you connect those words to your body, you start to become them…they become a part of who you are.
Ask yourself: What does hunger feel like in my body? How does being adequately nourished feel? What does getting through stress with ease look like?
With the answers to those questions clear in your mind (and body), imagine yourself getting through your day fully nourished and dealing with stress. Now use those sensations: feel the dropped shoulders, the unclenched jaw, the air filling your lungs as you say the words.
Once I started to integrate my own desired mindset shifts with the rest of me, I’ve noticed a change in my attitude that repeating words alone never did for me.
2. Embodied Plan of Action
The next part is to walk the talk.
Ask: What steps can I take to live as such today, even if the urge still strikes to inhale every cookie in the house?
Having said (& felt) the affirmations, take 10 minutes to pay some concrete attention to the actual food you’ll eat through the day. Plan what to defrost or buy, and list what you have available for nutritious snacks when you need a break.
Planning is the perfect way to keep your mind clear for ANY part of your day (some people prefer to do this the night before). Take 10 minutes to go to over the priorities on your list of endless possibilities – the things that you absolutely want to get done by day’s end – work-related, home and personal.
Using the same principal to help make those choices, ask “How do I want to feel in my body at the end of the day?” or “How will I feel tonight knowing X is done?”
Focus-enhancing bonus: Allot a specific amount of time to each task.
Having a set time helps to maintain boundaries, so your mind is free to focus fully on the task at hand, creativity & ideas & efficiency flowing more easily. Using a timer gives you a protected space to function, without the worry of everything outside that container getting in the way.
Give one of these a try – embodied affirmations OR the embodied plans. Come back here after a few days and let us know what shifted for you. When you share in the comments, you open the possibilities for others.
My morning routine has become the ritual that allows me time to reassess, to nourish my whole being, and to start each day with intention despite the whirlwind. Next time, I’ll be discussing choices for the kind of breakfast will get you through the day ahead. (Sign up in the box below so you don’t miss the coming instalments of how you might do the same.)
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