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From Frazzled to Focused
by Dr. Dale V. Atkins, May 2013

Busy, Busy, Busy. Sometimes we feel we are all over the place going in several directions simultaneously. A key element as we attempt to go from frazzled to focused is finding one's breath and using it to full advantage as we each find within us, a place of stillness. It is possible with practice.

It seems we are hungry for "time out to disconnect" in order to feel a sense of peace in the crazy fast paced world. This kind of time for stillness allows space for creativity and recharging of our batteries.

Frazzled folks are low on energy and high on unhealthy stress. When frazzled, we tend to neglect our health by eat unhealthfully, sleeping poorly (or not enough), forgetting to exercise, or taking time to calm our minds; all of which deplete our energy and our ability to focus. We don't think clearly and the thoughts we do have race through our brains without time or space for reflection which adds to the frazzle. And rather than focusing on the positive we are drawn to the negative. When frazzled, it is easy to overlook what we have to be grateful for, which contributes to spinning towards a downward spiral of reviewing that which is NOT good, NOT done, NOT positive.

We need to breathe.

Life's events present us with a series of choices. We need to decide how we will respond. It is our attitude, not the event, that determines whether we will be frazzled or focused. Truth is, whatever happens, we need to adapt. Change is a constant in life and it is up to us to figure out how we are going to deal with it. Do we waste precious time and energy bemoaning that which we cannot change? Or do we figure out a way to deal, integrate, and move on? We can learn to see change and obstacles as challenges and allow the feelings we have related to them, whether disappointment, anger, or frustration, to be part of the process of dealing with the situation in a way that does not diminish our ability to function well. When our impulse is to hurry, the better choice may be to slow down so we can actually give ourselves a chance to pay attention to what is happening within us and chose how we respond rather than have a knee jerk reaction that in the end, may hurt us. For example, instead of eating faster, we can consciously slow down and be mindful of our pace. Doing this helps us to "right" ourselves when we have been knocked off our center.

When we take a few minutes (start with 3! ) to be still and breathe deeply, we can quiet our minds particularly the chatter in our heads, The multiple roles we have, the busy schedules, the constant interruptions and distractions -- we all know what they are -- but when we find that we can be still and quiet for a moment here and there, we feel more control over our lives and recognize that we have power to change our lives in a positive way, one step at a time. The good news is that small changes have big effects.

Prioritizing helps and when you do it, life will invariably get in the way so know that you will have to drop some things and pick them up at a later time -- kind of like juggling balls, some stay in the air and some drop -- but if you focus on what you put down instead of what you are still juggling, you will be frazzled and not focused AND you will feel as if you did NOT do what you were supposed to do rather than feel good about what you DID do! Appreciate that some things on that to do list will have to be put away, for a day, a week, for "now," forever? Only you can tell.

Also, multi-tasking just does not work. The brain cannot do more than one thing at a time WELL. Something suffers. So do one thing at a time and do it well. Simplify, wherever and whenever you can.

Whether we are talking about love, work, home, conflicting or competing responsibilities, this works (and spills over to other areas of our lives which is really great!). We can feel calmer, healthier, happier, more fulfilled, less worried, perhaps more spiritually connected, and more content with our lives and those in it. Not a bad result for taking a breath.

*Photo credit: Dr. Janet Weathers, photograph of her garden view.

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