Mastering attention is an important skill that promotes resilience, or the ability to bounce back from life’s challenges. We live in a world that is constantly changing and our attention is continually pulled in different directions. This is why developing the flexibility to bring our focus back to what really matters in a particular moment can not only help us to keep going when life gets tough, it can help us to adapt and grow stronger within ourselves. Mastering attention can help to:
1. Improve self-awareness, self-regulation and emotional intelligence. Resilience requires the ability to notice and respond to one’s thoughts, feelings and behaviours in different situations. Mastering attention is a way to develop a deeper understanding of ourselves so we can choose our responses and actions.
2. Improve problem solving and decision making. Resilience means being able to tackle problems with confidence. Mastering attention helps to break a problem into manageable parts, generate possible solutions to support effective decisions.
3. Improve focus. Today, we are overloaded with digital distractions such as social media and emails. This can make it difficult to stay on task and easier to avoid tackling challenging situations. Mastering attention can keep our minds on what we are doing in the moment.
4. Improve connection with others. Resilience relies on building support networks. Mastering attention can strengthen relationships by helping us to be present and genuinely listening and engaging with another person.
5. Focus energy. Resilience means allocating our mental and emotional energy on things that can be influenced. Mastering attention gives clarity and helps us to avoid worrying about things we cannot change.
Developing attention flexibility is an ongoing process and like developing physical flexibility it also involves regular practice. Here are some ideas for tailoring an approach to flexing your attention that suits your needs:
1. Mindfulness Mediation. Train your mind to stay in the present moment by developing a regular mindfulness meditation practice.
2. Develop a Daily Routine. Maintain focus by breaking your day down into smaller, manageable tasks.
3. Prioritise Breaks. Sustain attention by managing your energy. Take regular breaks during tasks. For example, try the Pomodoro Technique which suggests working for 25 minutes and then taking a 5-minute break.
4. Practice Active Listening. Practice giving your full attention to your friends or colleagues when they are talking to you and ask clarifying questions.
5. Cognitive Games. Cognitive Training exercise and games can develop improved focus over time.
6. Breath Mindfully. Take a moment to breathe each day. Deep, focused breaths help to calm the mind and broaden attention.