Distraction and Overwhelm: Tips for Finding Balance

Living in a perpetual state of overwhelm can’t be healthy for you. Adrenalin flows, respiration gets more shallow and blood pressure starts to climb. It doesn’t sound like recipe for thriving, yet for so many of us it’s become a typical daily pattern.

We are bombarded by so many things that grab our attention and focus these days it’s hard to think straight at time – advertising, TV, the internet, email, cell phones, Blackberrys, text messaging, instant messaging, to name but a few. Apparently we receive more mental stimulation and demands for our attention in a single day, than our great-grandparents had ……at the turn of the century in an entire year!

Dr. Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. wrote an excellent book, Crazy Busy: Overstretched, Overbooked and About to Snap!, that offers strategies for “coping in a world gone ADD.” A medical doctor who has treated patients with Attention Deficit Disorder for the past 25 years, Hallowell noticed since the mid-1990s an increase in the number of patients coming to him wondering whether they had ADD because they felt chronically inattentive, disorganized and overwhelmed.

He warns that our technologically-driven, fast-paced, 24/7 open-for-business society is overloading our brains and that we are suffering from a “culturally induced state of ADD.” He calls it the “F-state” which is when the individual feels “frantic, frenzied, forgetful, flummoxed, frustrated and fragmented.” Can you relate to that?

Living in a perpetual F-state takes a toll on our ability to create and sustain relationships with family, partners and friends. It creates impatience and poor listening skills as parents. Enjoying and feeling satisfied in our careers can become a challenge if we operate in the F-state. Clearly, always living in the adrenaline rush that characterizes the F-state isn’t great for our health or peace of mind.

So how do we move to what Hallowell calls the “C-state” where we are “clear, calm, collected, consistent, concentrated, creative, curious”?  I would add the word “conscious” to that list. Here are my top 3 strategies to finding more balance.

1. Make Sure You Do what Matters Most to YOU

“While no one has total control over his or her life, most people have more control than they exert,” Hallowell notes.  There are so many options available to us and technology that can get the job done, but it’s not feasible to “do it all.” Let what’s most important to you guide you. We must accept we have limits and be willing to let go or say no to those things don’t speak to your heart.

2. Create a positive emotional environment wherever you are.

Positive emotion is a powerful fuel to keeping you living in a C-state. Look at how you’ve designed your external world (that includes elements such as your physical surroundings and your friends). Make sure you set yourself up for success. Make playtime a priority, no matter how old you are!

3. View Each Moment as a Precious Gift

The one resource we cannot create more of is our time – and we only get 525,600 minutes per year.  What is the wisest, most impactful and heart-fulfilling use of your next minute? Living in a state of gratitude for the abundance you have helps you cut through all the distractions and reconnect to your true values and priorities.

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2 thoughts on “Distraction and Overwhelm: Tips for Finding Balance

  1. Really enjoyed this article. It is so true! In this fast paced world we live in, it is almost impossible not to be stressed out.

  2. Thanks Patrice! Do you think we’ll need to add stress management classes to our school curriculum? We really need to grab hold of our stress and pre-occupation with the “to do” lists and carve out space to just “be.”

    Have a great day!