In the distant past (say, 5, maybe 10 years ago), a major political scandal would break and we’d all talk about it for a month or two. The hype surrounding a new album release would build for weeks followed by a giant promotional run. And if someone tweeted a picture of a striped dress and asked what the two colors were? It could dominate the online conversation for a solid week. In 2021 though? There is a new political scandal erasing the last one from memory every 12-18 hours, entire albums get released online for free without anyone knowing they were even in the works, and the mirthful, harmless viral posts of the past have been largely replaced by a constant, never-ending din of toxic online flotsam.
And that’s without even getting into the stress and anxiety of the pandemic, or the sudden need to homeschool children and work at the same time, while you are constantly being pulled in multiple directions, putting out fires while bombarded by never-ending stimuli.
In our current reality, it’s no surprise that so many of us have become accustomed to an ever-shrinking attention span, and are finding it so hard to just disconnect and focus on the things we care most about.
What is focus or concentration?
Distraction in today’s world can manifest in a multitude of ways. It can be the constant ping of notifications on your phone, the email inbox that always must be checked, the headlines announcing today’s great outrage, and why you must stop what you’re doing, and pay full attention right now.
Distraction can also take the form of anxieties, worrying so much about tomorrow or the weekend, or the things you keep putting off into the future, until you can’t find a way to just be present right here in the moment. It can also be regrets, replaying social situations you wish you could do over, things said or left unsaid, roads not taken. And though FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) has taken a bit of a backseat this past year, there is something truly debilitating about that feeling that someone, somewhere, is having a better time than you are right now.
When we talk about focus, we really mean reestablishing control over the distractions and the anxieties that can prevent us from living right now in the moment. We mean taking steps to establish a more mindful way to live each day, focused on what we have and what we’re doing, and not getting bogged down by the distractions and everyone wanting a piece of you.
Occasions you need to focus?
Everyone has those moments when they really need to focus in life, and live in the here and now.
Few things require more immediate, all-encompassing focus than gaming. You need great reaction speed, instant decision making, and the ability to keep your head on a swivel and think a couple steps ahead of the competition. A distracted, wandering mind can spell doom for gamers.
If you were living the best years of your life, wouldn’t you want to focus on them? College can be a stressful time full of questions and choices about your future, your intellectual pursuits, your love life or lack thereof, and much more. Along the way, countless students find that they lose the ability to focus on what matters the most: class. By finding a way to tune out the distractions, university students can make the most of their time in school.
By now you may have taught yourself how to nap with your eyes open, just to make it through those hour long Zoom meetings for work. If not, then it’s very likely you’ve mastered the art of nodding your head and furrowing your brow as you squint in order to say “I am interested in this remote meeting, and I am paying very close attention and not actually playing flash games on my screen while I nod.”
Paying attention in meetings or just online meetups with friends can be a bit tough, especially when you are already literally on a device with no shortage of distractions. But if you can find a way to focus, you can also find a way to get the most out of the meeting and maybe - just maybe - to enjoy it too.
Work can be a constant struggle to stay focused, especially if you are constantly tasked with assignments that don’t really speak to your passions, and just feel like busy work. But one trick about work is that people tend to enjoy work more when they’re good at it. Focus, and the ability to be present in your work can make you a much better, more efficient and happier employee.
Focus is so important for parents, and so difficult to maintain when someone has just asked you the same question 500 times in 5 minutes. As parents, there is only so much time during the day to carry out a million chores - and that’s without even factoring in work. It’s understandable that parents are distracted, but with all the responsibilities of parenting, at times, the stress and worry can distract us from something that can be just as important to children - to have their parents present, in that moment, enjoying their company and spending time with them.
And another thing, when you’re distracted, you may be a little more likely to not notice today’s “random thing that might kill my kid” in time to leap in and save the day.
If you’re the procrastinating type then you may have heard that people who put things off to the last minute are actually more intelligent, creative, and at times athletic and good-looking as well. There may or may not be peer-reviewed research that supports this, but as procrastinators, it's something we like to tell ourselves regardless. If you’re someone who always puts things off to the last minute, you may find that you are very often dreading the last minute of things, and frequently finding yourself overwhelmed by work, obligations, and stress.
For people who procrastinate, the ability to focus means you may be more capable of finishing tasks quicker anud at a more reasonable pace, or that when the last minute comes along, that you can really put your nose to the grindstone and get things done.
What can help you focus?
Arguably there are two main ways to boost focus - preventative, and in the moment. Preventative measures look at ways to keep the distractions and stress from piling up, instead of how to tune them out in real time.
Easier said than done for parents, but at times, it can feel like the world just wants too much from you. You can get caught up and distracted thinking about how you can help solve the problems of all of your loved ones, instead of how you can make sure you’re doing ok.
You know the feeling, you have a day off from work, you already worked out in the morning, and you’ve got nothing planned in the evening. The feeling can almost be stressful, a nagging sense that you should be working on...something, catching up on….something. Make a point of embracing those down times and the awareness that you’re actually doing a great job, and shouldn’t be too preoccupied with what you should be doing, or what everyone else is doing.
Also, being too hard on yourself can mean you spend far too much time each day thinking about regrets or just giving yourself a hard time, which can really get in the way of just enjoying what’s right in front of you.
When you’re tired, your ability to focus is even lower than usual. Not getting enough sleep can put everything in a funk, with the fatigue and the brain fog making it that much harder to focus on work, your social life, your kids, anything that’s not just the gentle embrace of your closing eyelids.
Getting more sleep also requires a bit of focus. It means making a conscious decision that you will go to sleep by a set hour each night, come what may. This also allows you to set boundaries on the distractions in your daily life, and gives you the agency to decide that while work may not end once you leave the office, you get to decide when you clock out for the night.
With so much of our mental capacity devoted to worries and anxieties, it can make things harder to be focused on the present. While not all meditation is the same, it is known helping people lower their stress and anxiety and increase their focus. Just the act of focusing mindfully and deliberately on your breathing and your body, even just for a few minutes each day can really improve your ability to maintain focus and tune out the background noise.
A bad diet can have all types of repercussions for your daily health. During the work day, hunger or a poor diet can make you tired, incapable of focusing, and irritable. And too much junk food or fast food can also have you feeling out of whack. Make sure to maintain a healthy balanced diet, and to eat at regular intervals during the day, so you don’t find yourself having trouble focusing. After all, when you’re hungry, who can focus on anything else?
What part can CBD play?
While some research has indicated that CBD can potentially improve alertness, when it comes to focus, it can make things easier mainly by helping alleviate some of the strains of daily life that can make it so much harder to focus. Whether the effect of CBD is rather calming you down or making you more alert, depends on many factors such as dose, your age, gender, metabolism or what other ingredients are in the product.
It’s important to note that trouble focusing could be the result of an actual neurological condition so if you think you may want to consider consulting your physician if you find that this problem has persisted or only worsened with time.
While the aforementioned study indicated that CBD may help improve alertness for some people, a more recent study stated that “preliminary research into cannabis and insomnia suggests that cannabidiol (CBD) may have therapeutic potential for the treatment of insomnia.”
Today, many CBD companies offer special sleep aid versions of their products, which are typically formulated by including Melatonin. VAAY CBD sleep products are formulated with 5-HTP to promote the body to increase melatonin production.
When you’re anxious, focusing on the day’s tasks can be especially difficult. Many people list anxiety as the main reason that they take CBD, and according to a 2015 study the evidence indicates that CBD “has considerable potential as a treatment for multiple anxiety disorders.” It has also shown to have potential benefits for people coping with Social Anxiety Disorder.
One of the most medicinal uses of cannabis is to treat pain. CBD is often used in concert with THC to treat pain, and a study from 2014 found that patients who used a CBD/THC spray reported “clinically important improvements” in pain and sleep quality.
PTSD is also one of the more common qualifying conditions for medical cannabis patients in the United States, and research has shown that oral CBD “when given in addition to routine outpatient psychiatric care, may have a beneficial effect for patients with PTSD.” This is not to say that if you have problems focusing it means that PTSD is to blame, rather, the fact that CBD can help ease PTSD, could indicate that it can help provide some relief from whatever is keeping you up at night, or distracting you with worry and trepidation.
Conclusion, CBD as the little helper?
CBD isn’t a magic cure-all that can eliminate all the things that are causing you to have trouble focusing. It can’t make the modern world less distracting or solve the personal problems in your life that are constantly leaping in front of your windshield, distracting you from the road head. But CBD can be an integral part of a wider wellness regime devoted towards helping you lead a healthier life. Combined with a healthy diet, a better sleep regimen, and a real concerted effort towards self-care, CBD could be an effective tool in helping you get to the point to where you can focus when you want to focus, keep back when it’s time to relax, and zone out, completely distracted and unavailable - on your own terms. Take a look at our CBD store. 🙂