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  • Writer's pictureNick Andriacchi

Stolen Focus – How to Rebound from COVID’s Grip

By Phyllis Cavallone-Jurek

Last Friday, I was lucky to attend St. Mother Theresa of Calcutta’s Living Well Series featuring my good friend Phyllis Cavallone. Phyllis is currently the Executive Direct at Ladder Up, a nonprofit organization that provides free financial consulting resources for lower income earners. The program is designed to help them secure the opportunities they need to move up the economic ladder.




The topic focused on the causes, accelerated by COVID, that have taken our attention away from our well-being. Ms. Cavallone’s research found that isolation forced by the pandemic caused huge increases in stress, depression, and anxiety. The inability to socialize with people (remote work, online events only, reliance on our devices, lack of exercise) was the main culprit.


Basically, we need to unplug for our personal well-being.

Here are some tips she shared with us in order to do so:

Let Quiet and the Stillness in

Create a calmer, uncluttered space. Log out of social media, turn off TVs, music, etc. Use browser extensions like ‘Concentrate’ to shut out distractions. Start with 30 minute increments.

´ 61% of people say they can’t ignore a text, email or call

´ 81% are willing to interrupt a conversation and meals to check their device

´ 61% of people feel jealous or depressed after social media checks

´ 73% tech contributes to overall stress

´ 60% of people spend more time on devices than with a spouse

Practice Eating Well

´ Diet is often overlooked. Your body and brain need healthy fuel. The gut microbiome influence the body and the brain.

Get some Sleep

´ Put yourself to bed….at the same time every night and try to wake at the same time every morning.

´ Create a pleasant environment that is conducive to sleep; your bedroom should be primarily associated with sleep

´ Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea, alcohol; OTC sleep aids might lead to less restful sleep

´ Limit physical stimulation (e.g., distractions, TV, phone, exercise); turn off or set electronic devices in sleep mode; consider putting distractions in a separate room

´ Memory is not as sharp. REM and deep sleep are needed to store long-term memories.

´ People who sleep less than 6 hours/night are 30% more likely to be obese.

´ Lack of sleep stimulates appetite for high fat, high carb food.

Incorporate Movement

´ The human body was designed to move. When deprived of movement, poor physical health, mood disorders and aging accelerate. Movement boosts circulation, muscle strength, and endorphin, antibodies and white blood cell production. Helps your body ward off viruses and pathogens more efficiently

Let your mind Wander….and maybe scribble a bit

´ Wandering is central to human creativity – at least 20% of our creative ideas occur during mind wandering or what the researchers called "spontaneous task-independent thinking”

´ Mind wandering may enhance cognitive flexibility - which refers to your brain's ability to adapt to new or varying situations

´ Wandering helps the mind make new combinations and novel solutions

´ Mind wandering may increase your productivity and working memory

Avoid Triggers

´ Sitting in traffic

´ Situations that are intensely chaotic

´ Focusing on what other what people “Might Think”. Make decisions aligned to your values and needs

Foster Self-Care

´ When was the last time you spent some quality time with a friend?

´ When was the last time you guarded your time to be with family, to pray, to rest?

´ When was the last time you treated yourself to something you enjoy?

For more information about Ladder Up, please visit: https://www.goladderup.org/

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