Senior Eating Salad

by Paula Marie Usrey

If you want to live your best life, stay focused on the really important stuff. Don’t allow distractions to pull you off course.  That sounds pretty simple, yet most of us easily get sidetracked. I know how easy it is to lose focus. Two distractions I deal with include mindless snacking and too much screen time.

A 2013 American Psychological Association  news report indicated 38% of adults have indulged in unhealthy or extra food because of stress. When feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or defeated, I find it easy to indulge in extra or unhealthy snacks. I also find I’m more tempted to escape through a world of screen-time distractions. A 2016 CNN report revealed Americans spend almost 11 hours per day on multimedia devices or screen-time; that means up to 77 hours a week could be lost because of such addictive distractions.

Defeating Distractions
Because I want to remain focused and follow my vision for the next chapter of my life, I’ve had to examine the habits in my life that have kept me distracted but haven’t moved me forward.
For me, stress snacking has almost been like a drug addiction because I feel better for a few minutes as I allow comfort food to slip down my throat and calm my nerves. Unfortunately this way of dealing with the stresses of life leads to bad habits that eventually add more stress, fatigue, and feelings of defeat. Once I get hooked, I spend more time thinking about my next junk food fix than the reasons why I am using food to deal with nonfood issues.
Allowing distractions to take over my life is another habit that is self-defeating. When I add up the amount of time I spend on Facebook, checking emails (multiple times), checking my TEDx link to see if there are any new views, or watching three or four different news programs that all report the same basic stories, I can lose 25-40 hours per week from screen-time distractions. I might try to comfort myself by telling myself that at least I’m not spending 10 hours a day with screen-time, but I’m still putting in enough hours so that I could work another fulltime job. Talk about self-defeating!

In a 2017 Huffpost article, Focus – Why It’s Vital for Success, William Anderson shared that those of us who live stressed, distracted lives can never really experience the kind of focus that leads to important improvements in our lives. Anderson goes on to suggest that alone time without distractions is a good time to relax and focus.
Taking a few minutes each day to review my vision and vision map is helping me stay more focused. I still need to do some work on limiting snacks and replacing unhealthy habits with positive ones. By planning one or two healthy snacks a day, I can limit mindless, unhealthy snacking.
I can also set limits for myself on how much total screen-time is reasonable. If I only spent three hours per day in front of a non-work-related screen, that would mean I would be spending up to 21 hours a week allowing myself to be distracted. That’s more than enough!
Each of Us are Empowered to Live our Best Lives
All of us have the power to live our best lives. First we need to decide what that looks like. For me, my vision map has helped me see what kind of life I really want and what I need to do to make it a reality. In addition, it is helpful to monitor our daily habits to make sure they align with our bigger vision for our lives. It is important to choose wisely so that we can truly live our lives to the fullest.
Paula teaches speech communication at a community college in Oregon and give presentations and have presented workshops on how we can all live our best lives at any age. Visit her website,