How can I concentrate on a task and being able to focus .
Hello, Do.J. Thank you for reaching out for support around your lack of ability to focus. This past year has been difficult for a lot of people to process and find coping strategies to get them through. You mention that these challenges did not start until after the Covid-19 pandemic which leads me to believe that there is a heightened sense of anxiety that is interrupting your concentration and thinking behaviors. I know that you want to focus mainly on strategies that could help with your focus so you can be successful during exams, but I do feel it will be important to process all the thoughts and emotions as it relates to the pandemic at some point.
With anxiety and the impact it has on focusing, grounding techniques (also known as mindfulness and being present) are effective in interrupting intrusive thoughts. One strategy I often recommend is to sit in a chair with your feet on the ground and your hands on your lap and pay attention to all your senses. Look at what is around you; focus on objects, the color of those objects, or the colors around you, and try to list at least 5 things. Focus on the things that you can feel and try to list 4 things; for example, the texture of your pants or legs, the temperature of the room, your tongue against your teeth, the hardness or softness of the chair, the feeling of your feet against the ground or floor. Listen to the sounds that are around you and try to list 3 things; for example, the hum of a fan, cars going by outside, or birds chirping. Hone into the smells in the air and try to list 2 things. Finally, pay attention to the taste in your mouth. This activity forces you to be present and not think of the past or the future. It also allows you to calm your body and take a moment to breathe. Another technique you can try is a visualization of somewhere you are the happiest or calm. In the visualization, you can still incorporate your senses into the specifics of that environment. In addition, deep breathing is a useful technique. Try 10 deep breaths with inhaling focus and a calm mind and exhaling any negative thoughts that are present.
After you feel calm and grounded, you can try the following techniques to help with your attention to tasks. Implement a routine to your days to include healthy eating habits, sleeping patterns, and exercise. Self-care is something that I strongly recommend which can be something small each day to a bigger activity that you fit into each week. Examples of self-care include meditation, taking a walk outside, treating yourself to a special coffee, spending time with a friend, watching your favorite tv show, or reading a book for pleasure. In regards to your studies, set small goals for each day. It is important to keep these goals realistic and achievable. If there is a big goal then break it down into small parts with details, prioritization, and deadlines. I like to encourage goals to be visually written out and include the act of crossing them off or checking them off which provides a sense of satisfaction. In your routine, schedule your study time to be the part of the day when you typically have the most focused energy. When you are scheduled to study, remove all distractions from your area or place yourself in an area that you find optimal for your productivity. During your study time, set timers for breaks and incorporate rewards when tasks are completed. During your studies, when you feel burnt out from a subject, try changing to another subject. However, if you find those intrusive thoughts disrupting your studies, keep trying the grounding techniques to stop them.
I hope you find this feedback to be helpful and I wish you luck with your studies. If you find that intrusive thoughts continue to disrupt your life functioning, I would encourage you to explore options for counseling. Take good care of yourself and have a good day.