Tips for Supporting the Spleen and Improving Focus
Nowadays, it can feel like achieving sustained and meaningful focus and concentration is so darn difficult, especially with the pace and busyness of modern life, as well as the constant dings, alerts, and intrusions of all of our technological gadgets and social media updates. It can feel exhausting, and in Chinese medicine it can really exhaust and deplete our Spleen energy. In Chinese medicine, Spleen energy is not an unlimited resource - it is nourished and replenished on a daily basis by the food we take into our bodies, and it is deeply restored through rest and relaxation. Excessive worrying, overthinking, ruminating, inconsistent dietary habits and eating routines all take a toll on Spleen energy. But fear not! Supporting our Spleen energy can help to improve our ability to achieve sustained focus throughout the day. Focus is very much like a muscle - through consistency and effort you can improve your ability to achieve sustained focus. Here are some tips to help get you started.
Do Your Most Important Tasks First Thing In The Day
Conscious, sustained focus and effort takes a lot of brainpower. It’s fueled by our metabolic processes (which falls under the umbrella of Spleen energy in Chinese medicine), and it is not an unlimited resource. Our ability to focus and concentrate at our best lasts for a limited amount of time throughout the day. With this in mind, getting your most important tasks completed first thing in the day when your energy reserves are at their highest will set you up for a better chance to be able to put sustained focus towards the task in front of you. It is much harder to focus on difficult tasks at the end of a long day when your tank is completely empty and you’re feeling totally spent.
No matter who you are and no matter how shoddy your attention span is, you can improve upon it. You really can! Our brains are incredibly malleable, adaptable, and workable. Mindfulness meditation, even for very short periods of time, can help develop our focusing muscle. By strengthening our ability to keep coming back to the present moment, we improve our ability to sustain our focus on what is right in front of us, instead of getting lost and carried away by thoughts, distractions, and ruminative thoughts - all of which can work to deplete our Spleen energy.
Check in with Yourself, and Take Breaks!
Lovingly and attentively treat yourself like an adult toddler. I’m serious about this one! If you have an important task to focus on, take breaks every 30 minutes. Stretch. Move your body. Get yourself a snack or eat a really nourishing meal - restock your Spleen energy! Drink water. Check in to see what you need. Set yourself up to be comfortable and at ease in your body so that you can put your focus and attention to the task at hand.
Be Mindful of Social Media and Internet Use
There is a growing understanding that an abundance of social media and internet use can really wreak havoc on our attention spans and focus. Every time we check our email, Facebook, or Instagram accounts, our brain gets a little hit of the feel-good neurochemical dopamine, which basically says to our brain “This is awesome! Pay attention to this!” That’s how we can set ourselves up to feel this constant phantom inkling to check our social media accounts consistently throughout the day. It can be a real brain drain, depleting our Spleen energy in the process. Turning off notifications and taking sustained breaks from social media can help to quiet this down.