According to the University of Miami, uncertain times have created a new type of chronic stress that is affecting up to 75% of the American population.
VUCA (Volatility. Uncertainty. Complexity. Ambiguity) is a term employed to classify the high-demand, high-stress that can rapidly affect one of our most powerful assets, our attention. According to neuroscientist Amishi Jha, the last 9 months have created a chronic VUCA effect that has affected the global population.
“Your attention system is complex and multifaceted, but the more you know about how it works, the more able you will be to navigate VUCA events. “ Jha quotes.
5 Ways VUCA Events Are Affecting Your Attention
As reported by Amishi Jha studies at the University of Miami, VUCA situations can alter our attention spam in the following ways:
You Attention Alters Your Reality
The reason why we have attention is because our brain needs to focus on a specific problem or task to solve. Now, when your brain is constantly bombarded by changing scenarios, bad news, and catastrophic events, your attention becomes overloaded and stops working properly. Thus, making you feel overwhelmed and on the verge of a constant crisis.
Your Attentions Is Extremely Affected By Stress
Our attention has the solid goal of helping us concentrate on achieving a specific goal. When stress comes into the picture, our attention becomes highly degraded. Which can lead to poor achievement, and thus more anxiety, which ends up creating a vicious cycle.
Your Attention is Restricted
Our attention spam can only properly process around 4-5 situations at the moment. During normal or more stable times, it can perfectly deal with 1 bad situation, against 3 or 4 positive ones. During Covid times, we are constantly bombarded by bad or threatening news that can cause or attention spam to be “filled” with negativity. Thus, leaving no space for positive things to take place in our awareness.
Your Attention Can Be Vague
In a specific moment, there is a 50% possibility that you are actually not present. Let’s say that you are working normally, and things are fine on your end, however, you suddenly free afraid of losing your job, and feel like things can go wrong at any given minute. That is your attention wandering in the constant crisis that is being bombarded by the news and environment.
Your Attention Can Be Deceived
Let’s say that things are going well or at least, normal on your end. However, suddenly you feel threatened, you start to be afraid that you or a loved one can get infected with Covid-19, and you become stress out by the fear of losing them. Then you research more about it and then feel somehow a symptom that you were not experiencing. Sounds familiar? The reason for this is the fact that our brain is so powerful that it can create our reality, even though it’s not true. During uncertain moments, such as this, our brain is processing more news that it can handle, thus affecting our perception of what is real and what is not.
What Can I Do About It?
Now that you know that your attention can be a bad boss, we got some positive news. Although you can not control what happens around your attention, you can actually train your attention. Mindfulness and meditation can help you protect your brain against VUCA situations by reducing mind wandering, and catastrophic thoughts.
Here are some practical tips to help you get started:
- Stop Catastrophic Thoughts: Every time you feel like your mind is about to let calamitous thoughts run wildly, remember something positive that has happened recently. Breath in and out for 10 seconds, and then mention something you are grateful for at the moment.
- Remember Other Times Your Mind Has Fooled You: When you find yourself on the verge of a mental crisis, remind yourself of other times where you felt the same and nothing actually happened.
- Think Objectively: According to studies, 85% of the things that we worry about never happen. And even the 15% that can happen is not nearly as bad as we imagine it.
- Do Something You Enjoy: Many times, our mind is fatigated because we haven’t done something we truly enjoy in a long time. It doesn’t need to be big, even dancing to your favorite song, watching your favorite movie, or eating your favorite meal can make a huge impact.
Although these activities can seem simple, they are a powerful way to control your thoughts and improve your overall mental health in difficult times.
Have you tried any of these?
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