Trying to focus in a world of distractions

We live in a world full of distractions, and even silence can seem distracting at times.

If you can focus in complete silence, that is excellent, and probably harder to find these days.

I grew up on a main city street with constant buzz, three blocks from the hospital (a hub of ambulance activity) and across the street from a gas station (with its share of robberies), so I personally find it hard to focus in complete silence at times too.

I’ve always wished I could relax and focus in silence, but I also struggle with anxiety, and background noise seems to calm my mind and nerves—to a point.

Maybe it’s because silence is not my normal and therefore puts me on edge. I anticipate sound, that seems more distracting when it pierces through silence.

Or maybe it’s the sense of solitude that feels like isolation, when I want to feel connected and supported.

Or maybe because sometimes there’s a ringing in my ears that distracts me with worry about what’s wrong with my hearing.

Or maybe I need to meditate more and get used to silence.

But if you think about it, when is everything completely silent in nature? Without the sound of wind, rain, waves, or animals?

Animals often go silent when hiding from a threat, or when they’re about to attack. Then there’s the proverbial calm before the storm.

So evolutionarily, maybe I’m totally normal and OK in my angst with silence, and just need to find sounds that are calming and soothing to help me focus.

Whatever the case, I love music, and how it can impact my mood and thought patterns.

I’ve realized, however, that music with lyrics can be distracting while trying to work or focus, because my brain wants to sing along.

What I have found helpful is peaceful instrumental music that can play softly in the background to calm my nerves, reduce anxiety, drown out distracting sounds, and enhance my focus.

Of course, music preference is a matter of taste, so it’s up to you to decide what works best for you, but I recently discovered this playlist on Spotify that does the trick for me.

Even as I write, soft music is playing in my ear buds, to drown out the noises that would otherwise distract me in the coffee shop where I sit, including the upbeat songs playing overhead and the people talking next to me (at least it’s not an ambulance or animal about to pounce).