If you’re looking for ways to engage your mind that doesn’t involve mindlessly scrolling through Instagram and Twitter while Ms. ‘Rona does her thing, look no further. Here at GROW/N, we’ve been wondering the same thing. With all the time spent at home, it can be challenging to find ways to learn new things and stay stimulated. And while there might be plenty of virtual events, talks, webinars, workout classes and more offered, maintaining focus is another thing.
Constant news alerts, media reports and discussions revolving around the coronavirus pandemic has certainly made it hard for me to focus on just one task at a time. I find myself in a battle between working for a set amount of time, before immediately being drawn back into the latest news cycle or article every minutes. It’s frustrating. While I might not have necessarily been glued to my phone before this, I certainly am now.
Not wanting to indulge this any further, I began searching for ways to remain focused and diligent on the task at hand. I wanted to learn how to engage my mind, and to do so without having any distractions get in the way. While I might not be able to control the situation and my surroundings currently, I knew I could find a way to control my actions, thoughts and what I was doing each and every day. Here are some of my findings:
Utilize Lifelong learning. An important tool that we can utilize now and for the future, lifelong learning not only can limit depression and anxiety (what many of us might be feeling now) but also strengthens our mind by increasing our memory and sharpening our instincts. Some of my favorite tasks to do while at home currently include reading and writing. Both are simple activities that engage and challenge the mind. You can keep it simple by reading books or magazines that you enjoy on your own and/or writing in a journal daily.
Get an App. Because we are in the digital age, apps are useful to store information, take with us on the go, and send daily alerts and reminders (not always welcome, but sometimes I do be forgetting!) Try finding apps that focus on building your mind and focus. My favorite is HeadSpace, which I use for mindfulness. It helps strengthen your center, find balance, and return to your breath. Another good one to try is Calm. Similar to Headspace, Calm highlights meditation, and is great for sleep as well.
Brain HQ is another great online tool to strengthen your cognitive controls and mindset. With offerings that include brain exercises and games that keep your mind sharp in terms of speed and attention, there are perfect to help with trouble focusing on work or class while at home. Similarly, jigsaw puzzles and learning a new language are great when it comes to staying engaged and challenging yourself.
Create a routine. This accounts for a huge part of adjusting not only our mind, but our bodies as well. While a normal everyday routine might involve going to work/school, or getting outside with friends, small routines done at home can make a big difference. Try working out in the morning a couple of days a week, and then switch it up to working out in the evening instead. Or, set dedicated schedules and times of day when you might read, write, focus on work, learn something new, and cook. Switching out what times you do this might create a fun routine for you, even giving you something to look forward to.
By no means is the current climate a situation we are happy with. It has been difficult to acclimate to, but strangely has become the new “normal.” Understanding what we can and can’t control has done wonders for my physical and mental health. Working to keep my brain engaged, present and focused has been tough at times, but sticking to these exercises and creating some sort of routine has done wonders.
The good thing? These are all activities we should be doing for life, regardless of quarantine. So, try some of them today, and start using them in your everyday life, even when things resume. It might just help down the road.
Taj Cutting is an interior and experience designer who loves to travel. When not exploring the world, she enjoys writing, kickboxing classes and eating more Mediterranean food than she can manage!