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I Cherish My Precious Attention

With AxSpa we can experience brain fog, difficulty to stay focused, lack of attention, and short attention span. That is the kind of thing that strikes me the most with my diagnosis. Having flares, I was not able to focus, to have attention on something for more than a few minutes. It was hard to believe what was happening to me, to my brain, to my attention?

New attention issues

I recall vividly these episodes of low attention and consequently the poor concentration I had at the beginning of my journey living with Axspa. Being an academic by training, studying many years at University, and working for 15 years as a researcher, I never suffered from attention issues. I could study, I could read for a long period of time, I could stay focused on my work all day. Since my diagnosis, I have been sensitive to distractions, I can feel overwhelmed easily and so processing my emotions is harder sometimes. I can feel vulnerable when I must focus on something for a while. I wonder if I can do it.

I recently came across a very interesting article1 about the problem of attention in Covid time, which to me describes similar circumstances to what we can experience when living with long-term condition e.g., threat, stress, poor mood, brain frog, all resulting in a reduced level of attention.

Mindfulness and meditation

There are in this article some good reflections and explanations of low attention, and tips to address it and be prepared to keep up our attention in various life events which might be challenging. Practicing mindfulness is mentioned as a solution. I must agree with that! Mindfulness and meditation have been keeping me and my attention sane for few years now!

My first experience of meditation was through yoga practice. I then discovered mindfulness attending a self-management program for people with long-term conditions. We discussed tools and resources for coping mechanisms and mindfulness apps were mentioned. Since then, meditation and mindfulness took a big space in my life, for the better. I can feel the benefit by having a calmer and spacious mind, and feeling more in control of my emotions and generally able to focus better.

Yoga and other ways to practice awareness

I used Headspace for a while and I find it very useful. I still do yoga and welcome any moment during the physical practice when we are invited to seat still/lie down and meditate. Later, I got into meditation and artistic activities. Being a creative person and using different art forms, I cherish those!

I attended brilliant meditation and writing workshops. These sessions are a real treat for the mind, body, and soul; afterwards I feel peaceful, nourished, and emotionally balanced. I had a go at meditation and drawing/painting, which were new art forms for me. I was impressed by what I managed to paint after meditating and being guided.

I also did some mindfulness meditation programs with Deepak Chopra. I find them effective to give me space to reflect on a particular topic of my life, look at the situation with calm and peace. This is for me time well spent to move forward and change some of my patterns of thinking, of seeing my life through the same eye and the same angles, of repeating the same actions and taking my thoughts for a reel. Through all these approaches, I have welcomed mindfulness and meditation into my self-care routine.

Additionally, this article1 uses the global pandemic as a context that is common to all of us, so people can relate and understand. I think this is how the Covid situation could benefit the AxSpa community and other chronic diseases communities, to make the public better understand what we are experiencing whilst living with these diseases, as for example, some life circumstances due to Covid or long Covid symptoms are similar to what we have to deal with on a daily basis.

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