With the onset of COVID-19 Pandemic spreading across the globe, we have a whole plethora of new learning curves. One such learning curve seems to be figuring out how to create the right environments for our productivity.

Productivity is great during this pandemic, if it is something feasible with your work. However even with all this nose to the grind work we have going on, it is causing an different sort of tired.

More tired than usual…

Focus fatigue, that’s right. We’re all fall prey to it, and it’s because we have a new battle we are facing here. Our vision has become narrowed, not because we are lacking vision or drive, but because it is quite literally narrowed to the few inches just in front of your face. Our range of focus has become shortened because we are all staring at screens a whole lot more than usual.

Before the shelter-in-place orders, and the need for self-isolation many of us probably had jobs that allowed our vision to be more broad. The range at which your eyes moved throughout your day was much broader. It allowed for you to turn your gaze from one area to another, one depth and then another. Now, however, our gaze is fixed.

Our gaze is fixed on the area literally right in front of us, whether on our phones, or our computers. This creates a much more intense sense of focus for your eyes, and your brain. Many of our jobs have forced us to go online, or maybe even our hobbies (i.e. online exercising, etc.).

With this comes the added stress for your eyes and your brain that is focus fatigue. This focus fatigue makes your mind feel as if it is working extra hard to stay attentive. It is forcing you to really only use a portion of your senses, making the demand on those senses stronger.

In “pre-pandemic” life more of your senses are able to stay engaged in any given activity you are doing. You might be able to hear more, or use your body language, or feel more things around you because of the environment in which you are place. This focus fatigue is forcing our environment to shrink ever-so slightly, causing that higher demand on the sense of vision.

How do we combat it?

Focus fatigue can be combated in many ways, first and foremost is awareness. Enhancing awareness of the lack of use of multiple senses allows us the opportunity to engage it. When you don’t know you aren’t using all of your senses, it becomes difficult to enhance the use of them. Not using those senses is actually more draining on the body and mind than we know, so bringing awareness to them is extremely important.

After you’ve built awareness around the senses that aren’t being engaged, we have to identify the ones that make you feel most rejuvenated. Is it important for you to focus on your breath? Is it important for you to turn your gaze out and up (think looking toward the sky)? Maybe you need a little more auditory stimulation, other than the tapping of your keyboard?

Once you’ve identified the areas that make you feel most rejuvenated, it’s time to engage them. Take a break from the screens for at least one hour. Whether you need to go for a walk, sit on your porch and read a book, or maybe you talk to your neighbor over the fence, do it. Taking a break from the intense focus we have on our screens is going to bring life to you in more ways than one. It will enhance alertness, enhance awareness of emotions, increase levels of energy, and decrease brain fog.

Other than taking large break times from screens during the day, it’s important to also add in small increments of breaks throughout your day. Maybe every hour on the hour you might consider taking a walk around the block.  Or you could even create your own miniature workouts to in between task completions. This will help keep your body and brain energized, capable of conquering and aware of what is happening for you internally and externally.

Give yourself grace during this pandemic time. If you’re feeling more tired than usual that’s quite alright. It’s a normal part of this process for many of us. But extra-tired does not have to be your “new normal.” Create space for awareness, create space for movement, and space for simply “looking up.”

Be Well,