Before I was forced onto the front lines of the biggest battle of my life, I didn’t fully understand the depths of grief. I had no idea about the ancillary challenges that would arise.
One of my greatest challenges has been focus and concentration. My personality-type requires me to be on my game in order to thrive. I require organization, order, and accomplishment in order to feel content. My job requires focus and attention to detail in order to succeed, yet there have been days that I can’t even remember names, or something that someone told me just a short time ago. It’s not because I don’t care, but because the “Rolodex” that existed in my brain has been shaken and disorganized, and many things have been lost.
However, through a lot of therapy and prayer and meditation and mental work, and grace (still working on this one) I’ve discovered some things that have helped me:
Essential oils: diffusing peppermint oil during my work day can increase my focus and concentration tremendously. I also love lemon and frankincense for this.
Breathing techniques – “smell the hot chocolate, blow out the candle.” This is a technique that I use with Addy and Sydney during their challenging and difficult times. Slow, intentional inhalation through the nose, fill the lungs, slow, intentional exhalation through the mouth. Just 10 seconds can do wonders.
Tapping – our brains can trick us into thinking dark thoughts, especially during times of struggle. By taking the index finger of one hand and tapping on the pinky-side of the other hand (we call it the “hi-YAH” area of the hand), you can trick the part of your brain (the amygdala) that’s responsible for stress responses. The amygdala hijacks the frontal lobe and forces a fight or flight response, which leads to panic, anxiety, fear, traumatic memories, invasive thoughts, etc. Regaining control of this area can help return rational and calming thoughts.
Meditative sitting – (along with the breathing techniques mentioned above) – we recently dug out the original Wii Fit to teach and challenge our girls to some old school Mario Kart. Haha! Turns out there are some useful balance games that I didn’t pay much attention to before. “Lotus Focus” is a new favorite of mine. Even just 1-2 minutes (good posture, eyes closed) can change your day.
Music – I’m a music lover. I relate to lyrics and feel rhythm. I could narrate the timeline of my life with songs from many genres. I’ve discovered the need to play music all day, during my workday, to help with focus and concentration, and to be able to multi-task and remain productive. This is one of my favorites: https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=EwCXTa1ZKNU
I’m setting my intentions today for hope, love, light, and rest to be bestowed upon those struggling with grief, anxiety, depression, PTSD, hopelessness, loneliness, and any other challenges you may be facing.
As a dear friend recently said to me when I needed to hear it most: Keep going.