Simple Actions To Regain Focus (Part 5)
Action 2: Change Your Socks
“There is one item of G.I. gear that can be the difference between a live grunt and a dead grunt. Socks. Cushioned sole, O.D. green. Try and keep your feet dry. When we’re out humpin’, I want you boys to remember to change your socks whenever we stop.”
(Lieutenant Dan, “Forrest Gump”)
All of us at one time or another have come home after a long day on our feet or been stuck in heels, tight dress shoes, boots, etc. and all we wanted to do was put our feet up.
Think about how, as soon as you took your shoes off and rested your feet on the couch, chair, or ottoman, your entire body immediately began to relax.
In fact, if you were paying close attention I would bet that your entire body started to relax right after you took your shoes off.
Why does this happen?
You may notice that once you take your shoes off, your feet start to warm up (along with the rest of your body).
This occurs because the blood vessels in your feet are now allowed to widen, thereby improving blood flow.
As more blood flows to your feet, it provides them with nutrients and oxygen.
Just a side note – that is what the relaxation response is all about – nutrients and oxygen.
Whenever you feel tension in your body you are experiencing restricted blood flow to that particular area.
In essence, you are depriving that area of nutrients and oxygen.
Once the area is relaxed your blood vessels open up and your muscles get “fed” again, which creates the feeling of warmth…
Which in turn increases the feeling of relaxation and the positive relaxation cycle begins.
As your feet are allowed to “breathe” so is your mind.
As a result, it becomes easier for you to focus.
There is a whole area of research and treatment called “foot reflexology” which is based on the principle that there are reflexes in the feet which correspond to every part of the body.
The technique is similar to that of massage but more focused on applying pressure to areas with specific nerve endings rather than muscles.
Initially, I thought that this was a bunch of nonsense designed to sell books and make certain “experts” a lot of money on the seminar circuit.
However, being the research geek that I am, I found that reflexology has been effective as part of treatment for:
Gastrointestinal Distress (stomach problems)
All of the conditions mentioned above are directly or indirectly related to “negative stress.”
When pressure is applied to specific areas of the feet, the body responds by increasing blood flow to the associated area in the body.
As we know, more blood flow means more oxygen and nutrients, which are vital to healing.
Now I am not suggesting that you run out immediately and get yourself scheduled with a reflexologist.
Remember, the focus here is on simple actions you can take right now that will help you to regain focus and slow things down.
Standing and simply wearing socks and shoes restricts blood flow to your feet.
In most cases this daily, slight restriction does not carry any serious health implications with it, but it does contribute to your feelings of tension throughout the day.
If you don’t believe me, just try it.
If you are wearing shoes and socks right now, just take one shoe and sock off.
If you’re in a public place simply take off one of your shoes and pull your sock away from the top, bottom, and sides of your foot and place that foot on top of its shoe for a few minutes.
Now just concentrate on the difference in feeling between your two feet.
Notice how the foot in the sock and shoe feels stiffer than the “free” foot.
You may even notice some slight throbbing in your “free” foot.
That is the blood pumping in nutrients and oxygen.
You may even be experiencing some feelings of warmth in your toes – a sure sign that blood is getting all the way to its destination.
Take a few moments and just notice what other differences you feel between your feet.
Now why do I suggest changing your socks during the course of the day?
Again, back to blood flow.
If you are in a warm climate or have sweaty feet, your socks get a little damp (from your body heat and /or sweat) during the course of the day.
Initially this causes a warming sensation, but after an hour or so, the damp sock actually serves to further restrict blood flow to your feet because it begins to “stick” to your foot.
No, it doesn’t have some sort of stranglehold around your foot wherein there is no blood flow, but it does create enough tension to restrict blood flow.
The benefits of fresh socks are simple:
1) Changing socks gives your feet time to “breathe” – even just for 10 seconds.
2) Fresh socks start the process over again wherein the first hour or so is actually beneficial to your feet given the warmth created by the new sock.
3) At the same time that your feet are getting fed so is your mind, because you have given it a break by momentarily changing your focus without changing your context, which is important so that you can easily re-engage in whatever you are doing almost seamlessly.
Believe me, I know how ridiculous this Action may seem at first.
In fact, I actually considered not including it because I was concerned that it might diminish the other Actions.
However, I have seen firsthand the positive effect that this simple Action has had on too many people despite their initial judgments.
I am also aware that there will be many times that you cannot change your socks or may simply choose not to change them out of concern for looking odd.
That is fine as you can easily take your foot out of your shoe and pull your sock away from your foot (top, bottom, and sides).
That is the key – you need to get your sock away from your foot – even if it’s just for a moment – to release its mini-strangle hold.
As hesitant as you may be initially, I suggest that you give it a try.
You’d be surprised at the physical and mental relief this simple action can bring on.
Whether you believe it or not, your feet have a direct impact on your ability to focus.
In Part 6 we’ll Tap Out…stay tuned