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How to Focus When Something's Bothering You

04 November 2021

No matter how hard you try, you won’t be able to concentrate when something is bugging you or bothering your peace of mind. As an employee, this can cost you your job because your company needs you to deliver and perform. You can communicate to your supervisor or HR department what’s bothering you lately but this can only do so much. At the end of the day, you still want to stop the endless loop of overthinking and get you to be working at your optimal level. 

Most often than not, what’s bothering you is something that is out of your control. Yet even when you know this fact, you still can’t see reason and torture yourself with negative thoughts until you feel stuck and helpless. Don’t worry. You can still get out of this mess by learning to let go of those thoughts in order to concentrate on what you really have to be doing. Here is a quick guide on how to be mentally strong:

Know the difference between dwelling on a problem versus trying to solve it.

1. Know the difference between dwelling on a problem versus trying to solve it. 

It’s part of the healing process to sit down with your thoughts and feel them to the core. But there’s a major difference between ruminating, going over the same situation again and again in your head versus thinking about it to devise a solution for the problem. It’s actually simple to differentiate the two. Problem-solving involves ruminating and thinking of solutions that will help you move forward. Ruminating is just ruminating and going back to square one all the time. Writing it down in your journal can help get out of this loop. Outlining your thoughts will give you a picture as to why you can’t seem to get over a problem. As soon as you understand what you’re going through, you may write down actionable steps to get you out of this dark pit. 

Divert your attention to something else.

2. Divert your attention to something else. 

It won’t be enough to just tell yourself to not think about something. You have to proactively look for the remote control to switch the channel on the TV that’s playing on your head. Do a mindful activity where you have to focus and will take your mind away from the negative thoughts. Even just a few minutes will already be a relief for your brain. Make sure that this is something that would require you to think deeply or even use multiple senses at a time. Some examples would be to call a friend you haven’t talked to for the longest time and ask for a life update; you may also plan for your next vacation that includes searching for flight tickets and booking adventures elsewhere; learn a dance choreography where you’ll need to focus on picking up steps; clean your desk and get rid of clutter; have a vigorous workout or look for a subject to paint. 

At work, buying a height-adjustable standing desk that can easily shift your position from standing to sitting can already do wonders for your brain. You can also use an under-desk treadmill where you can take a break and run under your desk to clear your head of negative thoughts. A multifunctional desk where you can change the angle of the desktop to suit your activity (drawing, working, writing) is also a fix to your overthinking problem. FlexiSpot has a height-adjustable whiteboard standing desk that can be flipped and adjusted to five different angles so that it’ll be easier for you to switch from one activity to another. The brand also has quality standing desks such as the Kana Pro bamboo standing desk that, not to mention, is environmentally friendly too with its use of a bamboo desktop. There are also nine available under desk treadmills that FlexiSpot offers. 

Talk to a professional.

3. Talk to a professional. 

It’s more likely that you’ll be ruminating on a problem if you have depression, anxiety, or other mental health issues. Thinking about negative thoughts may also lead to developing a mental health problem. This is not something you should take for granted. If you’re already feeling that you’re in a dark place and you can’t get out of it alone, it’s probably time to ask for help from a professional. A therapist will help you process your thoughts and lead you to provide solutions for your problems. There’s no shame in acknowledging that you need help and doing something to get you out of your problem. It takes acceptance and bravery to do that so tap yourself on the shoulder for doing the first step. 


4. Breathe. 

Sometimes as simple as taking a deep breath will literally give you a sigh of relief. Close your eyes, inhale through your nose, count as you hold your breath as long as you can, and then exhale through your mouth. Mentally think about the direction of the air as it travels from your belly to your chest. Repeat this until you feel a sense of peace. It’s a bandaid solution that can quickly go away but it helps set your mind and shift its focus to something else. Plus if you’re at work and you need a quick fix, this can do the trick. 

Visualize your problem and negative thoughts in a different set-up or in an imaginary world.

5. Visualize your problem and negative thoughts in a different set-up or in an imaginary world.

For example, think of the negative thought as a balloon and just letting it fly away to the sky until it is already out of sight. You may also think about writing down your problem on a piece of paper, crumpling it to throw away to the garbage bin. 

Do a ritual.

6. Do a ritual.

If breathing and visualizing did not work for you, maybe doing something more tangible might. Some people automatically cringe when they hear the word “ritual” as it can be linked to a cult or something spiritual. It doesn’t need to be because a ritual is simply something you do regularly. When you do something on a regular basis, you can train the mind to let go of the negative thought once you start doing a ritual. It can be burning something that represents what’s bothering you, probably chanting affirmations, or even just taking a short walk.