Resilience Tip #25: Focus
For many people with chronic illness or disability, difficulty focusing is an unexpected and often unrecognized challenge. Difficulty focusing can be an invisible side effect of your primary health condition or disability. While your health care provider may mention to you that your chronic pain or depression or MS or… [fill in your disability here]… may affect your ability to focus, this is probably not going to be at the top of your list of concerns at first. And more to the point, difficulty focusing may not happen or become obvious to you immediately. Or it may not appear until you begin a specific medication or treatment. Or … you may notice a problem focusing as a consequence of worry—about money or stigma or another hurdle. And to complicate the issue, what I call “difficulty focusing” you might label “lack of concentration,” “fuzzy-headedness,” “attention deficit,” “lack of will-power,” or “inability to achieve goals.” Sometimes these labels are assigned by others and can cause us to give up before we even start.
Whatever name you use to describe focus or the lack of it, the person best equipped to address it is you. There are dozens of tips for improving concentration, achieving goals and increasing focus, but in my experience, not all will work for you. The challenge is identifying the strategies that produce results for you and your situation. Perhaps you already know what works or maybe you need to experiment with new tools. Tips for adults with attention deficit disorder (ADD) can be useful for people without this diagnosis. Research indicates that mindfulness meditation can improve focus. Psychologist Bill O’Hanlon has created a user-friendly hand-out called “Developing Focus” which you can access below.