How to Concentrate by Staying in the Present

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Keeping and maintaining concentration is important in almost all aspects of daily life. From personal interactions to driving your car, concentration is key to getting the most out of daily activities. However, individuals with social anxiety often have trouble concentrating on the outside world during social and performance situations due to negative thoughts and symptoms of anxiety.

Schedule Worry Time

Everyone allows their mind to wander every now and again, but those with social anxiety may become preoccupied with anxious thoughts.

Therefore, you may find it useful to set aside some time to allow your mind to wander.

Similar to how a dieter might allow themselves to "cheat" on their diet once in a while, an individual with social anxiety might decide to allow the mind to wander to worrying thoughts at a certain time each day. That way, you know that you will have the opportunity to worry later and can focus on the task at hand right now. Though it might sound strange to "schedule worry time," doing so may actually help you to worry less!

Focus on the Present Moment

Often, the problem is that by the time you realize you've lost your concentration to worrying thoughts, it is already too late and you have already drifted away. So, it becomes important to be able to force yourself to focus.

One technique for doing this is to keeps notes or a list of times when you've found that your mind is wandering to anxious thoughts.

Keep tabs on those times or situations that you discover your mind is most vulnerable to wander toward worry.

From there, you can become aware that a particular situation is prone to causing you to lose focus, and you can then try harder when you see those situations coming up.

If you notice that a lot of your concentration problems come during particular situations, you can then focus your efforts on those circumstances to help make yourself less vulnerable.

For instance, you may find yourself losing concentration when talking to people in authority. Perhaps every time the boss calls you into his office, your mind starts to wander to thoughts such as "I must be doing something wrong" or "I am sure he can tell how anxious I am to be here in his office."

In order to improve your concentration when you start to slide toward worrying thoughts, ground yourself in the moment. This can be accomplished through mindfulness meditation or acceptance and commitment therapy, which can be learned either in a group or individual therapy settingĀ or by practicing self-help strategies on your own.

In addition to choosing one of these important methods for getting a handle on your anxious thoughts, be sure to make small changes that will help to improve your concentration in general, such as the following:

  • jump start your day with a bit of exercise or stretching to improve your mental outlook
  • avoid screen time late at night, which may make it harder to fall asleep and make you tired
  • reduce multi-tasking and focus on one thing at a time if you find your work suffering
  • choose certain times of the day to check updates for social media, sports, news, text messages, and emails

Final Thoughts

In general, do things that help to keep your mind the present moment, and avoid doing things that allow your mind to wander. In this way, you almost need to be a police officer of your thoughts. Schedule time for your mind to wander and then maintain focus on the present moment as best you can the rest of the day.

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