The Illusion of Concentration | Article

By Raquel Lyons

Rain drops dripping from grey arms. The white outlines of the brick pop out amongst the rustic red. Conversations flit across the air of the hospital’s day room.

Concentration: fleeting, hollow and difficult to find.

Mental health conditions can absorb the color, beauty and drive out of any person’s soul. And yet, there are ways still to combat it. That notion, at least, can provide hope in the darkness.

When I’m struggling with my mental health, concentration flies away from me. I’ve struggled with lack of concentration many times through semesters and, even then, there are breakthroughs and successes I’ve made.

For instance, while in the hospital it occurred to me to write this article about flailing concentration and my own tips to both myself and the struggling reader how to break out of the shattered shell and into a wholeness that may not have been experienced in a while.

There’s something fitting about wanting to write about concentration and not being able to concentrate to make the piece come together. It can be annoying as all hell, creating a sense of desperation that cannot quite be unleashed. Yet like trying to fall asleep for several hours and getting nowhere–getting frustrated with concentration will likely only exacerbate the issue.

First, it’s important to know when to step back and let go for the moment rather than remaining stubborn and bull headed.

I have a habit that contributes to my procrastination when I try and accomplish ALL of an assignment. Adding fickle concentration to that mixture often leads to more procrastination, avoidance and then my feeling bad about myself.

Instead I’m finding that when I hit the pause button in my life and take a breath to refocus I can re-approach the situation differently than I have been.

The majority of this article has taken on different refocusing strategies. I didn’t know where to begin–having conflicting starting points–I just knew I wanted to write. I knew I wasn’t that inclined to reading for fun, I read a little of my textbook, and I didn’t totally want to draw either. So I opted for writing, even though the words didn’t come in a row.

I thought maybe some background music could help yet when I fond a staff member; all the radios were in use.

I did find it helpful to turn to a public space with a view of nature. I find nature to be comforting and there was a sense of magic about describing what I saw to then begin the process.

Another outlet I find helpful to improve my concentration is to engage in some form of exercise. Now, I’m far away from being relatively in shape but taking a walk down the hall and back or bouncing my stress ball in my hand helped to scramble and reorganize my concentration.

Even just hand writing a draft is helpful. I can promise you that this final product looks very different from my first draft. Phrases have been rearranged, words crossed out and better formulations discovered.

Returning to the point on letting go I have found it to be very freeing to set aside my expectations and approach a task with a neutral standpoint. This has often allowed me to center myself on the task itself rather than what I may or may not achieve as an outcome.

Additionally, patience is important for me. When I stick through the insecurities and the frightening swirl of my emotions, I wind up getting involved with the task and get through more of it than I thought I would and would have given up on prematurely.

When I can break a task down to smaller, reasonable goals and find myself following them, I can accomplish much more.

Also, if I’m having a real round of struggle, I can resolve to do abrupt, randomized pieces at a time. This involves me reading a paragraph for one class, typing a sentence and then doing a word search.

It’s also crucial to remember that unconsciously our bodies are doing hundreds of things to keep us going in life, which makes up all the different types of success we manage on a day to day basis.

Practicing little moments of gratitude can also help boost our self-esteem and how our mental health affects us.

All in all, concentration will come and go. Much like feelings, our levels of concentration can be temporary. Some of our experiences are better than others.

And if you can dare to pick up the book, the pen or the keyboard, to try again at concentrating–than you are, in fact, a true success.

So much of life is about resiliency. So remember how much of a badass you are and you’ll do great things.

Stay safe.


Written March 31.2017

*Late upload 😛 Hope you enjoyed, though! 🙂

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