How do you stay focused when you're tired? How do you force yourself to stop thinking depressing or negative thoughts, when you drive to work? How do you force yourself to sit down, and using sheer mental will-power, try to not only survive the following hours, but thrive and meet targets and deadlines? Do you believe this is even possible?
Sure, it isn't too difficult if you've had a good nights sleep, but if you suffer from OCD and are paranoid, it's a different ballgame. OCD is naturally a lot worse when you've had a bad night, as you don't have that much mental energy to begin with, and the will-power needed to stop some of the OCD rituals quite frankly isn't there. Put simply, a good nights sleep helps reduce OCD, but a bad nights sleep can increase it, due to negative subconscious re-programming.
But is is actually possible to somehow thrive at work, meeting deadlines, when you are tired like hell, have OCD, and the memory of a fish (which, last time I checked, was around 7 seconds!). Do you even believe it's possible? Maybe you would be one of those people who would write of your losses, and call in to do a, ‘sickie'! You know, much rather stay in bed for a few hours and just write one day off, then somehow force yourself to go through hell in work.
I wouldn't blame you to be honest. I probably would’ve done the same thing myself years ago, in my early twenties, had it not been for my parents (I was living with them until my mid-twenties). But my parents were of the strict sort, so pulling a, ‘sickie' (despite an excellent track record for not having an illness) was simply not an option. Unless you were dying, you went to work. End off. No discussion…
This meant that, during my emotionally unstable years, I would still have to drive to work and fight the barrage of negativity my subconscious gave me (and almost with pleasure). I had to fight for everything in my mind. It was strange in one sense, and quite sad in another. I never went out to drown my sorrows at the weekend, instead I would take my anger after a hard day in the office playing computer games. Yes, I was a bit of a gamer, but I didn't care. This was my life, and I was sick to death of it, and I was going to have fun come what may!
It wasn't until years later did I understand spirituality, and how the mind worked, did I finally grasp on how to better myself using the power of attention and intention (i.e. what you focus on in the physical world, and what you focus on in your imagination). Even then, it wasn't a quick fix. I had to listen to many audiobooks, watch a few DVD's and read many books before I finally, ‘got it'.
Having said that, I still wasn't perfect, and still suffered the odd bad night, making my next day of work precarious. So, what was the cheat way of doing this?
In order for you to not only survive but thrive when you have OCD and are tired, we have to assume you know a few things…
Firstly, that you know what NLP is (or at least a decent concept of it) so you understand about posture.
Secondly, you understand the importance of deep breathing. I will go into this more later.
And finally, you know how to change your inner talk when you need to, because the following tips will require that you monitor your thought patterns, and if your imagination is a bit too wild, this may seem like a lost cause!
You’re still with me?
Then here we go….As always with me, you probably already recognize some of the techniques here, but it's always nice to have a refresher just to get the ball moving. And don't forget that you can use the following techniques if you've had a great night sleep and you don't suffer from OCD. That would give tremendous benefit (but that is an article for another day;-)
Authoritative Inner Talk
You need to change the inner talk in your mind, especially if it is of the extreme negative type (which won't be easy if you've had a bad nights sleep), but with a twist. It needs to be like a commander is speaking to you. No, I'm being serious, whenever I try it like this, I find that I automatically increase my productivity 10 fold. I type more faster, I act more quicker…you get the idea. One thing I would say, to counter this (because you can get super-stressed out very easily and quickly, and we don't want that) is to give an equal amount of self-congratulating as well.
For example, you could act like you have a manager watching you shoulder, barking instructions out to you in your mind, but after, say, a few seconds, congratulates you on how quickly you did that task.
Self-congratulation is so key here. If it was just the commanding voice, you would be wreck and ruin in no time at all, and your stress levels (which are probably high already) would go through the roof. So make sure that you congratulate yourself in your mind (or get your imaginary manager to do it for you) as often as you can. Lets try to keep the negativity at bay here;-) After you finished a bad task, get your imaginary manager to say well done (and mean it!). When you find your thoughts are starting to wonder (easy when tired) get your imaginary manager to tell you to keep going, and that you're doing a great job. Whichever is easiest for you!
This is a hard one to remember, I know, but by keeping the correct posture will help keep your mind focused. I've used the Physiology of Excellence DVD to great effect. Essentially, I kept my back straight when sitting down, and yelled out some commands in my mind, so I could focus better. Yes, mental anchors do work that great, and the DVD will show you a case study of one being created in action. But even if you don't believe in NLP, or have an interest in learning about mental anchors, that’s fine. Just keep your back straight and your head slightly high. This helps give you mental control and you'll be surprised at how quickly you can focus.
I mentioned this before, but this time I will go into more detail. Essentially, your breathing and your attention span are linked. Put simply, when you belly breath consciously, your attention span is easier to control. When you are having a panic attack, or you are chest breathing, your attention span can be all over the place (not always, but most times). If you can remember, try to deep breath while you rush around trying to keep your deadlines being met. This will help keep your stress levels from spilling over the top (and your internal authoritative voice in check!).
Don't forget, Staccato breathing can be used here to give you a quick boost in energy, as well as slightly improved cognitive functioning. Be careful though, the increase in energy might trigger an anxiety attack, so only do the Staccato breathing once, for safe measures (please see this article on how to do Staccato breathing).
Now, this article is for people who may have OCD and anxiety, so it is important that while you do have a firm voice in your head, commanding you one second and giving praise the next, your OCD will flair up. This is natural, as you are rushing around trying to complete jobs, while having a mindset with a poor attention span. The trick here is to be forgiving of yourself when your OCD kicks in every now and again (yes, despite the commanding inner talk, your OCD will resume business as usual, or at least will try to exert some control). Don't get angry when this happens, just be patient (let your internal voice be compassionate for a few moments) and when you have done a bit of double checking (or whatever the OCD requires you to do) go back into, ‘fast work' mentality.
This switching of mentalities is important, as it allows you to cool of steam slightly (don't forget, you have some form of anxiety if you have OCD, so when you do your ritual, your anxiety should be slightly reduced as a result). Try to forgive yourself, and be compassionate to your own condition when this happens, and you'll recover a lot quicker. After all, it's never easy to work quickly when you have OCD.
When you follow the above, you'll find that it will be tough to get going to begin with, but gets easier as the hours goes on. When I did it, my anger and bitterness grew, but then after a certain point, as results were coming in, I began to relax more into it. Yes, my OCD hadn't disappeared, but I was somehow slightly energized (maybe I was stalling my tiredness…I'm not sure). Yes, I was initially angry, but then it was replaced by some form of super-focus. It actually got a tiny bit easier near the end of the day, so when my OCD did kick in, I wasn't that bad over it.
Be fair to yourself…you've had a bad night sleep, your attention span will be all over the place, so don't be too harsh on yourself. But you did need to gain some authority in your mindset (hence the internal, ‘managers' voice, which I think is ideal). Just make sure that you keep the little bit of positivity you have up, by congratulating yourself every now and then, especially when you finish tasks and you meet deadlines. Try to be grateful for what you have accomplished. When you leave the office, you will feel slightly more powerful, and not emotionally battered and bruised.