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Episode 8: When Your Brain Can’t Focus on What’s Next



[00:00:02] Parenting is hard enough on a good day — but when you're facing a huge change like divorce, moving, a health crisis, or even a pandemic, it can be downright overwhelming. My name is Sara Olsher and I'm the founder of Mighty + Bright, where I help your family cope with the uncertainty that comes from life's major upheavals. Together we can help your kids take this hard time and turn it into resilience that they'll be able to use for the rest of their lives. Join me for quick and easy 5 to 10 minute episodes that will leave you feeling 100% positive that you got this

[00:00:40] When you're going through something that's really difficult or you've just recovered from something really difficult, like if you've had a major illness . . . your brain is changed. It's not like it used to be. It's in a state of fight or flight that often makes it really difficult for you to actually focus on what needs to be done.

And there are strategies that come into play that really help with this and can make you feel less anxious throughout the day and can make you actually get more done. And the main thing that I would recommend is routine and structure. As much as that sounds like that's a lot of work, or it might be worse because you're like, "oh gosh, now I have more stuff to do," it actually gives you freedom because you've gotten stuff done without having to think about it.

[00:01:30] It's actually research proven that routines relieve anxiety for people with mental health issues. And the reason is, that when you are constantly having to think about things and what you're going to do next, you end up feeling anxious. But a routine takes away that need to think about what's next. And that actually relieves your anxiety by removing that need to plan. So think about this: most of us have some sort of a morning routine. For me, I wake up, I make my coffee, I sit on the couch and I look at my phone. And then when I get ready in the morning, I take a shower, I brush my teeth, I do the same things each day, and I don't really think about it. And when those things are disrupted and I'm not sure what to do next, that's when the anxiety kicks in. So the idea is to add things to your routine that you can do without thinking about it.

[00:02:52] And so for me, the first thing that I am trying to do is incorporate "me time" in my closet as part of my daily routine. After I take a shower, I brush my teeth, and then I go in the closet and I spend time meditating. I do that without thinking about it. It just becomes part of what I do each day. And then before I know it, I don't have to remind myself anymore because it's just something that I do.

The same is true for your kids. They are wild and crazy during the summer or during holiday breaks when their routines are off. And the reasoning is the same as well — they're scattered because they don't know what is happening next. So when you can, put a routine in place — both for yourself and for your kids — so you don't need to think about what happens next. When you're in the habit of doing those things every day, it relieves your anxiety and it helps you and your kids to feel more calm throughout the day. 

[00:04:07] So I hope that helps, and I am looking forward to hearing what sorts of things that you are incorporating into your day to help you.