Hot and cold, stress and. …. attention?
Interesting to think about, isn’t it? More than often we lose our attention in our busy life and we go on autopilot (see our gorilla-metaphor). In a rush we reply to that email, we listen to the customer needs, we have a quick bite at the petrol station, we check out how our calendar looks tomorrow, we check messages on LinkedIn, etc. … All this in a rush because we have lots of things going on. This gives us a good feeling on the one hand (getting things done!), but we lose our contact with reality on the other hand. Nothing that we do really has our full attention and on the inside we have a bad feeling as if we were no longer at the steering wheel (which is true since our gorilla has taken over). This is very recognizable for me, perhaps also for you?

How can we step out of this “busy, busy downward spiral”? Attention can certainly help. Your full attention to that conversation with your colleague can make a huge difference. As well as your full presence while checking your mails  at planned moments (instead of 20 times a day), while listening to your favourite music in your car on the way to your customer, while attending the receptionist who wishes you a good morning (instead of neglecting her because you are checking your emails on your smartphone), …. For sure, you will regain your lost feeling of control while doing everything with your full attention.

 “Don’t look at your workday as a long marathon that leaves you completely exhausted in the evening. Look at your workday as a series of sprints, each time followed by recovery time, so that you feel tired in the evening, but also satisfied”

In a recent blog, we covered the topic of our attention span and it did not look good for us. Here some tips to train your attention:

  • Start your day with a clear plan: look at your day and plan what topics deserve your attention. Plan moments for your mail, social media, lunch, breaks…
  • Power-tip: on a regular basis, bring your attention to your breathing and follow the rythm of your breathing: in and out, in and out,…. The physical consequences of this simple exercise are spectacular: not only will your hart calm down but you will also bring balance to your brain (in our workshops we demonstrate this with an app). You can use this simple exercise before meetings, after a tough discussion, before coming home,…. This will calm your gorilla and empower your prefrontal cortex.  By using this simple exercise you can learn to control your stress level on a day to day level.
  • Take care of your posture: in the car, at your desk, ….Make sure your back is straight so that your lungs can do their job. Studies also show that a good physical posture also has a positive effect on our mood.
  • Install an app that reminds you on a regular base to take a break. A regular reminder to stand up, take a walk, drink a sip of water, grab a (healthy) bite,…
  • Move! Make sure you reach your 10.000 steps a day. Our body is made to move and by moving we stimulate a lot of internal processes. Take a look how Anneke Groot, (90) takes care of her mental health. Well done, Anneke!
  • Sleep: during the night our brain doesn’t go to sleep, on the contrary. A lot of maintenance work in our brain takes place during the night. Neural connections that are used during the day are reinforced and connections that are not used for a long period of time are pruned (neuroplasticity in action). But also our short term memories get stored in our  long term memory database. In orde to perform these tasks, our brain needs us to sleep a minimum of 7 to 8 hours. For the non-believers, here is a  video about this topic.


Picture by Sandra Lensink,