Social Question

AshLeigh's avatar

Why can't I focus, or sit still?

Asked by AshLeigh (14824 points ) December 3rd, 2012 from iPhone

I am very easily distracted, especially when doing something I am not interested in, but not only when I’m uninterested.
I feel incredibly uncomfortable when sitting still, so I’m always tapping my feet, or fidgeting with my hands. I have to be moving in some way, or it drives me crazy.
I have that nervous feeling constantly, and it seems like my heartbeat speeds up whenever I stop moving.

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25 Answers

ninjacolin's avatar

Are you skinny?

Allegedly, thinner people are more jittery than people with a lot of mass.

Never looked into why exactly.. maybe something to do with all the energy we get from food not having much to do in a body without a lot of meat to work on.

tranquilsea's avatar

Try exercising vigorously. That has a way of taking care of pent up energy. It’s what conquered panic attacks for me.

JLeslie's avatar

You might want to check your thyroid.

It sounds like you might just be bored with a little bit of hyper mixed in. Also sounds a little ADD. It could be anxiety. Could be many things. Thyroid can mimic all of these.

jordym84's avatar

@ninjacolin it’s actually a bit the other way around: skinny people don’t tend to fidget more, but people who fidget a lot tend to be skinnier because of the fidgeting. I watched an interesting video in my psychology class when I was in college about a man who ate tons of unhealthy food and yet was as skinny as a twig because he fidgeted a lot. I can’t recall the film or the guy’s names, but I’ll search around and see if I can find it. (Sorry this doesn’t answer your question, @AshLeigh, but I’ll do some research and see if I can help answer it for you).

JLeslie's avatar

Yeah, a close friend of mine, her mother fidgets and has always been thin. She is always burning a few more calories than the person next to her I guess. She also is pretty OCD about some things, cleaning especially.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@JLeslie I am not one to identify myself with personality disorders, but that is a huge stereotype with the “OCD = cleaning” relationship. I have bouts of OCD and I can still be a pretty messy individual (when nobody’s looking ;-)

@AshLeigh your mind is just faking excuses to keep you from doing some f*cking work. Get a hold of yourself, sit the f*ck down and do something from beginning to end. (and I don’t mean write another Fluther question ;-) I’ve been there and I can tell you it’s 90% gravity’s fault – keeps your lazy a** glued to the floor/chair whatev.

Snap out of it ffs, and thank me later ;-)

JLeslie's avatar

@fremen_warrior I think you didn’t understand what I wrote, my friend’s mom is OCD about cleaning.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@JLeslie OCD is not an adjective first of all, second of all I understood you the first time. What I meant was OCD manifests itself in many different forms and obsessive cleaning / rearranging things is mostly a stereotype, and of itself can be pretty annoying to hear for people who actually have been diagnosed with OCD. It’s like saying all obese people are jolly or some such.

ninjacolin's avatar

cool stuff, @jordym84. i’d like to see that if you find it

Anyway, here’s some stuff: Restless leg syndrome
not sure if entirely relevant but ya

AshLeigh's avatar

@ninjacolin, I’m at a healthy weight for my size and age.
@tranquilsea, I exercise regularly, and it hasn’t helped. :(
@fremen_warrior, thanks for the advice, but you don’t know me, so saying I don’t do work is just an uneducated guess. I finish most things I start. With difficulty, but I do finish them. :)

JLeslie's avatar

@fremen_warrior I am not saying all OCD people are obsessed with cleaniness, nor am I saying all people who like a clean house are OCD. I am saying my girlfriend’s mom has OC tendencies, especially about cleaning. She didn’t allow her kids to use the shower in bath in the bathroom near their bedroom, she vacuumed every night, she often brought food in rather than cooking and used paper plates so the kitchen was never dirty, and didn’t even cause one of her plates to be dirty for even the time while eating, I could go on. She obsessed about other things too in her life, but demonstration of compulsive behaviors was most evident with the cleaning.

Are we still miscommunicating?

Coloma's avatar

Read up on personalty types. Intuitive perceiving types are bouncy brained people, like to be active and move quickly from idea to idea.
When bored with certain material lose interest easily and have a difficult time concentrating, focusing on uninteresting tasks, work, people. haha
I am an ENTP type and my teachers always said this about me for years.

” If————is interested in XYZ…wild horses couldn’t drag her away but if she is NOT interested NOTHING will motivate her.
Still stands true 40 years later.
We also get pegged as being ADD when we are not, we simply have some very fast processing brains and are able to make many disparate connections that others often miss.

I suggest reading up on the MBTI and Enneagram profiling before you jump to any negative conclusions about yourself.

fremen_warrior's avatar

@AshLeigh in that case take a break you’re probably overworked then, when was the last time you had some “me time”?

@JLeslie pardon me if I jumped the gun then. People overuse the “XYZ is sooo OCD, she’s a total neat freak” and the like, it’s really annoying hence my reaction. On a related note, I really need to start paying better attention to what people are saying – you’re the third person in two days to call me on my sweeping judgements. Going to my man cave to meditate. Be back in a flash.

AshLeigh's avatar

@fremen_warrior I have a fair amount of “me time”.
I just can’t sit still.

JLeslie's avatar

@Coloma I agree a lot of people are pegged ADD when they are not. I think it’s awful. But, since the OP said it is hard for her to hold her attention to something even when she is interested in the material it might be a possibility. I personally have trouble finishing some things, but am far from ADD in my opinion. I am not hyper at all. I am good at not getting flustered when something comes up unexpectedly, as opposed to my husband who is annoyed he did not get to finish project one before moving on to project two or some sort of surprise project. So, being hyperfocused is good for somethings, but not everything. As they say, that is what makes the world go around. :)

@fremen_warrior No sweat. Internet communication can be tricky.

fremen_warrior's avatar

aaand I’m back. Told ya I’d be back soon ;-)

@JLeslie btw. you’re an asshole for making me think about other people.

@AshLeigh either become a dancer or drink some herbal tea to calm your nerves then :-) Unless you just wanna talk about it, in which case just keep talking to the Fluther until you get better.

@Coloma Marwyn get off the ‘puter! :P

JLeslie's avatar

@fremen_warrior Huh? Do you mean you are now obsessing about my friend’s mom cleaning her house?

Sunny2's avatar

Ashleigh, you should check with your physician. You could have ADHD and there is medication that can help tremendously. I have a mild case of it and my daughter has it more severely. I was never on medication and it’s under control, but I’m aware I’m easily distracted. Sitting in a classroom, I can’t ignore movements of people in the class. If people are talking around me while the instructor is speaking, I hear both and understand neither. My daughter was more hyper than I was and was on medication so she could sit still in class. She got off the meds, but asked to be put back on them during her first job. She was having trouble concentrating. You might check it out.

ucme's avatar

Feathers in your knickers?

fremen_warrior's avatar

@JLeslie no I just usually have a hard time telling women, in particular for some reason, when I think they are being assholes, and I believe it is healthy to tell people straight off the bat what you think about them, so I have just used you as target practice for just that. Hope you don’t mind. Not that I care what you think, it’s just the polite thing to say. Now I am being an asshole. Or is that my OCD flaring up again? Gonna clean my flat now. Laters! ;-)

@ucme I was just about to suggest the same thing. Question is are you saying that the feathers are the reason for @AshLeigh ‘s disturbed state, or are you suggesting they are the solution, hmm?

ucme's avatar

@fremen_warrior Not for me to say, so long as @AshLeigh enjoys the sensation…err.

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@AshLeigh Don’t fight it. I’m never still. If I’m sitting down my leg is bopping up and down. If I’m on the phone I pace around the room. And I don’t do one thing at a time. If I’m watching TV I also read a book, maybe listen to music too. It drives some people nuts, but my brain just takes a lot to keep it occupied.

thorninmud's avatar

I teach Zen, which basically means that I help people sit still and focus.

Most people have a hard time with this, and it’s becoming worse with your generation. The options for distracting oneself have become so numerous and readily available that people commonly reach adulthood without ever having had to develop steady, undivided attention. But you’ve already reached an important first benchmark: you’ve turned your attention inward and recognized the unsteadiness of your mind. That’s a good beginning.

The next step is to deepen that introspection. Become a student of what your mind is doing, how your attention functions. Even as your mind is jumping all over the place—and your body is echoing that unsteadiness—develop a non-judgmental awareness of all that mental and physical fidgeting. You’ll begin to acquire a habit of knowing what your attention is up to, moment by moment. Think of this as meta-attention: attention to your attention. This alone will go a long way toward stilling things down.

To go further, you can deliberately put yourself in a situation where you exercise the skill of stilllng your body and mind. That’s what meditation is. You’ll probably find it frustrating, difficult and confining. Your mind will rebel against the discipline. Chances are you’ll drop it, because it’s so contrary to your fidgeting habit. But if you manage to stick with it, it’ll eventually lead to the kind of steadiness your hoping for.

wildpotato's avatar

One question: is this just random fidgeting, or do you find yourself repeating the fidget over and over, compulsively, with specific parts of your body? If so, you may want to get yourself evaluated for Tourette Syndrome. Your description of needing to be in motion reminds me of the way I experience my tics.

@thorninmud Your advice is compelling. I wonder if meditation could help control tics, as well as restlessness, or if their neurobiological grip on the brain is too strong.

thorninmud's avatar

@wildpotato That’s a great question. I haven’t personally known a Touretter who meditates, so I don’t have any good anecdotal experience to offer.

I was once remarking to my own teacher that despite the countless hours I’ve spent in a room full of people silently meditating, I’ve never once heard anyone hiccup. Statistically, I would have expected that at some point over the past twenty-two years some poor soul would get them, and there’s no way they would go unnoticed in that silent meditation hall; but no, never. My teacher, who’s been at this longer than I have, agreed that he’s never heard it either.

I know there’s not much of a correlation between hiccups and tics, but there does seem to be some general quelling of spasmodic firings.

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