From the time we began to shelter in place, practice social distancing, and otherwise to adapt to a covid world, I developed difficulty focusing.  And that was BEFORE I came to Maryland and began to help with my five year old grandson who has focus problems of his own and the 18 month old who is, well, an 18 month old!

            So, what to do?  Writing in my journal used to be helpful, and still is sometimes when I actually sit down to do it.  Meditation and prayer have been  important to me for both focus and my spiritual life.  But space and time for that is very hard to come by at the moment. 

          In search of other means to add to my “arsenal,” I turned to: what else? Google!  In an article on INC.com, I came across some suggestions that are less frequently recommended.  One was to make a “distraction list.”  Paul David Lozano is quoted as writing, “Sometimes you will get distracted by a thought that disrupts your focus. When this happens, create a distraction list. Just create a new text file. Now, rename it to ‘Distraction list’. After doing so, place it in your desktop,” he explains. “Whenever a stray thought intrudes and breaks your concentration, add it to your list. Usually it won’t come back.” I will have to test that out for myself. (For tech disabled people like me, a text file simply doesn’t have all the formatting and ends with .txt instead of .doc or .docx.  I suspect I would just use whatever I found simplest for me).

PsyBlog is quoted as recommending a short breathing exercise that simply involves counting groups of nine breaths:  nine inhales and nine exhales which reportedly boosted participants’ scores on a test of attention. The blog also suggests that brightly colored rooms can boost concentration because people perform at their best when somewhat stimulated, red or yellow being preferred.  However, too much or too little stimulation tends to make people’s performance worse.

         A suggestion that especially appealed to me was to learn a foreign language.  Apparently even a minimal amount of time spent on such a task can increase your capacity to focus on tasks of all types. The site reports that after only a week of study, students show improved attention skills and were better able to switch their attention and filter out irrelevant details. Rosetta Stone French is on my computer and I will endeavor to spend some time there.  

But my most favorite of all was to eat dark chocolate! “Chocolate is indeed a stimulant and it activates the brain in a really special way. It can increase brain characteristics of attention,” commented Larry Stevens, who conducted research into the focus-boosting effects of this tasty snack.

         Blessings on your efforts…and see bonus recipe below.

May we be bearers of hope, the “wait staff” of Hope’s Café for each other and all those we encounter.

Shalom, Kate

P.S.  Hope’s Café Bonus: 

Terri’s Crockpot Hot Fudge Cake

1 pkg (dark) chocolate cake mix

1 pkg instant chocolate pudding

4 eggs

1 c. water

1 pint sour cream

¾ c. oil

6 oz  (dark)chocolate chips

In a large bowl stir together the cake mix and the pudding mix.  In a medium bowl, beat the eggs with the water, then add the sour cream and oil and stir until smooth.  Add the liquid to the dry ingredients and beat well.  Stir in the chocolate chips.

Spray the inside of the crockpot with a nonstick spray.  Pour batter into crockpot.  Place a paper towel over the top of the crockpot and then cover and cook on low for 4-6 hours.  Check after four hours to see if cake is firm.  Th paper towel absorbs the moisture and keeps it from dripping back into the pot.  Change it once or twice or as it gets wet.  Serve warm with ice cream or whipped cream.