Back when my anxiety was at its worst, I turned to meditation. It didn’t take much investigation to discover that Buddhists are the masters of meditation, so that’s where I focused my attention.
Not long into my meditation research, I came across a monk on YouTube who had a series of videos teaching beginners how to meditate.
The main principal of his lessons was to have something concrete to focus on while you meditate. This one “thing” that you focus on is what keeps you grounded, centered, focused.
The “thing” could be anything: your breathing, your movements, an object to stare at, etc.
To help you stay focused on your chosen “thing,” the monk suggested that you use internal mantras.
So if you were focusing on your breathing, for example, in your mind you’d say something along the lines of “breathing in, breathing out,” and you’d time this to match your breathing. Or you could focus instead on the way your stomach rises and falls as you breathe in and out, and in that case your internal mantra might be “stomach rising, stomach falling.”
If you were focusing on a body movement, like walking, in your mind you’d say something along the lines of “stepping left, stepping right,” and you’d time this to match the movement of your feet.
This combination of focus and internal mantras seemed to really help with my anxiety during my meditations, and that was great. But I wondered if I could extend this technique beyond the meditations so that I could benefit from it all the time.
This is how I came up with the idea of “Hyper Focus,” and here’s how it works.
How to Use Hyper Focus to Stop Your General Anxiety
When you’re highly anxious, or your worries are getting out of control, you “Hyper Focus” on everything you think and do until the anxiety or worries pass.
Imagine that you’re washing dishes and you’re anxiety is troubling you. Instead of thinking about the anxiety, which can only make it worse, you’ll “Hyper Focus” on the dishwashing.
As you move your hands to complete the task, you’ll watch them closely and focus on them like they’re the only things in the world. And as you watch them, you’ll use internal mantras to describe or narrate what they do.
As you begin the dishwashing and you place the dirty dishes in the bowl, in your mind you’d say something along the lines of, “Submerging the plate, submerging the plate,” and you’d keep saying it until that part of the task was finished.
Then, as you add detergent to the water, your focus would center wholly on that part of the process, and in your mind you’d say something along the lines of, “Adding detergent to the water, adding detergent to the water.”
You would do this for every step in the dishwashing process. “Scrubbing the plate, scrubbing the plate.” “Rising the plate, rinsing the plate.” “Drying the plate, drying the plate. “ You get the idea.
And don’t worry if it gets repetitive. In the dishwashing example I just gave you, there might only be a handful of phrases you need to use. That’s fine. Just keep using them.
“Hyper Focusing” like this allows you to turn absolutely any activity into a meditation.
You’re walking outside? Focus on your footsteps and in your head say, “Stepping left, stepping right, stepping left, stepping right.” When you need to stop to cross the street, the mantra in your head would change to, “Waiting at the kerb, waiting at the kerb.”
You’re taking a shower? Focus on washing your body and in your head say, “Washing my arm, washing my arm.” A moment later you might switch your focus to the pleasure of the hot water on your face, and your mantra would become, “Enjoying the water on my face, enjoying the water on my face.”
See how this works?
It’s important to point out that the focus and the mantras never become anxious obsessions or compulsions. You aren’t focusing on or narrating your actions out of panic or restlessness.
You’re “Hyper Focusing” on your actions in order to exist in the moment. That’s it. And doing so will help your mind to quieten, to stop your thoughts and your focus from erratically jumping from one thing to another, as they would normally during a moment of high anxiety.
Use “Hyper Focus” whenever you experience intense worry or anxiety. Every few minutes during your “Hyper Focus,” perform a mental check to see if your worry or anxiety has passed. If it has, stop the “Hyper Focus.” If it hasn’t, continue the “Hyper Focus.”
How do you know when to stop your Hyper Focusing? Simple. Just stop every few minutes and ask yourself if your anxiety is still there. Wait a moment to see how you feel.
If your anxiety and worries are still bothering you, go back to the Hyper Focusing. If your anxiety and worries are gone, or they’ve been reduced enough that they’re no longer a problem, you can stop your Hyper Focusing.
Why Hyper Focus and Living in the Moment Can Beat Anxiety for Good
Whenever you use “Hyper Focus,” you guarantee that you’re living in the moment. When your senses and your internal voice are focused on the action you’re taking at any given moment, there’s not enough of your energy or attention available to go towards erratic, anxious thoughts.
This gives your mind a rest from your anxious thoughts for long enough that they fade and eventually pass.
“Hyper Focus” is a skill, but it’s an easy one to learn, and the more you use it the more effective it will become. It has the potential to become the single biggest weapon you have in fighting the constant general anxiety that you currently have to live with.