10 ways to improve your focus and concentration
What is concentration?
In chemistry, concentration refers to the amount of a substance in a defined space, and this concept does not differ much from the cognitive perspective.
Concentration goes beyond a concept though – it is essentially a superhuman power because we are the only species that is capable of going through a process as complex as concentration.
When we focus, our brain undergoes a cocktail of chemical and electrical impulses that stimulate neurons to communicate with each other.
Information travels from the brain to the body by means of neurotransmitters, which are in charge of providing us with energy and nutrients, and basically, they take over our emotions throughout our whole life.
What does all of this have to do with concentration?
Simply put, Synapsis is the answer, and even though it is a very complex process of the brain, we could summarize it by saying it is directly responsible for our concentration and focus.
Factors that affect concentration
Some people just have a harder time tuning out distractions. Age and lack of sleep can affect concentration.
Bad habits like surfing on social media for hours, eating an excess of nutrient-deficient calories, dwelling on negative thoughts, and not socializing can affect heavily not only on good concentration, but also overall health.
This lack of concentration can easily lead to stress and irritation, and stress and irritation can lead to a lack of concentration. See the problem?
If this sounds familiar, keep on reading. We will share some good ideas to improve your concentration and focus level.
10 ways to improve your concentration
1. Eat healthily
It may seem obvious for some, but you’d be surprised at how simply adding a few healthy foods and limiting a few not-so-great foods can help your concentration immensely.
Consider the next list of food to improve your focus and concentration:
-Ginseng, fish, berries, caffeine: Yes, you can keep taking that morning cup of coffee, but hey, do not abuse it, that is the key.
-Sugar: Yes, sugar is a favorite for the brain, because the brain needs the energy to function. However, everything we eat turns into sugar, so instead of grabbing a candy bar when you’re studying for finals, try eating smart carbs (starchy veggies, nuts, etc) and foods that take longer to digest. This way, you’ll enhance your memory without sacrificing your overall health.
-Eat breakfast: This is a must; students who eat breakfast tend to perform better than those who don’t. Foods at the top of researchers’ brain-fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, dairy, and fruits.
-Nuts and chocolate: Eat up those natural antioxidants and vitamins, which are linked to less cognitive decline as you age.
-Avocados and whole grains: A diet high in whole grains and fruits like avocados can cut the risk of heart disease and lower bad cholesterol. Whole grains, like popcorn and whole wheat, also contribute to dietary fiber and vitamin E which prevents the brain from oxidative stress that increases during aging and is considered a major contributor to neurodegeneration.
Avocados, on the other hand, have monounsaturated fats, thus, by reducing high blood pressure, the unsaturated fats in avocados may lower the risk of cognitive decline.
How does exercise help us improve our focus skills?
Most research into the effects of exercise on concentration has studied the links in young people in schools, and while walking or running are considered the most effective for concentration, team games like soccer, football or basketball are also very powerful.
What happens when working out?
When you exercise, your body releases chemicals such as dopamine and endorphins in your brain that make you feel happy. Not only is your brain dumping out feel-good chemicals, but exercise also helps your brain get rid of chemicals that make you feel stressed and anxious.
Regular exercise can also help you control your emotions when you do feel angry or upset.
Creating healthy exercise habits when you’re young, makes it easier to maintain those routines as you grow older.
Best physical exercises to improve your focus:
-Team Games: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Soccer, etc.
3. Train your Brain
Concentration does not necessarily have to be complicated or boring. Let’s go over some fun ways to improve concentration even from your mobile or desktop.
Playing certain types of games can help you get better at concentrating.
-Word Searches or Scrumbles
How long should you play?
It is enough with only 15 minutes per day, 5 days per week, of course, the more the better (as long as it’s not taking over other important tasks).
Even coloring can help improve concentration in children or adults.
OLDER ADULTS: The effects of brain training games may be particularly important for older adults because memory and concentration often tend to decline with age.
4. Play Video Games
Maybe you thought brain games were only about playing with sophisticated brain-trainers, but here is some good news!
Yes, video games are also part of this list. Newer research also suggests playing video games could help boost concentration.
A 2018 study looking at 29 people found evidence to suggest an hour of gaming could help improve visual selective attention (VSA). VSA refers to your ability to concentrate on a specific task while ignoring distractions around you.
Even though the study sample was small and the conclusions are limited to a certain number of testers, scientists are backing this information already.
Still, further research will continue to reinforce this fact and broaden information about video games and how they affect our concentration.
5. Improve your sleep
No matter how good you are at playing games, or eating healthy food, or how much exercise you practice during your day, sleep is a must and maybe the most important from the list!
Sleep deprivation affects around one-third of American adults.
While some sleep deprivation from time to time will not represent a serious danger, regularly missing out on sleep will definitely keep your engine out of tune.
How does it affect our concentration?
Research suggests that the nerve connections that make our memories are strengthened during sleep.
“Sleep embeds the things that we have learned and experienced over the course of the day into our short-term memory.”BMI Healthcare
When you’re sleepy, you may forget and misplace things often. And the inability to focus and concentrate caused by sleepiness further weakens memory. “If you’re not able to concentrate on what’s at hand, it’s not going to make it into your short-term memory and then long-term memory.”
6. Just Breathe
This point is connected to the previous one, as it helps to sleep better and also helps you better focus.
One of the key roles, and challenges, that parents and educators face is teaching children to identify and manage their emotions. Research has shown that kids who are capable of regulating their emotions are happier and more successful in future life.
In fact, simple breathing exercises have a range of benefits:
-Increased Energy Levels
-Decreased Stress Levels
Using deep breathing to focus can help you increase the airflow into your body, then when you use breathing to focus you allow more oxygen to enter your bloodstream.
Would you like to go over 8 breathing techniques for relaxation and anxiety? Click here.
7. Get Outside
Relaxing isn’t it?
What do you feel when you think about a forest, a river, the sea, or hiking a mountain?
If you want to boost your concentration naturally, try to get outside every day, even for just 15 to 20 minutes. You might take a short walk through a park or sit in your garden or backyard and watch the birds.
Adding a plant to your workspace or room is also a good way to feel relaxed and thus, improve your concentration.
Nature may have even more benefits for children with ADHD. A 2009 study
A recent study that looked at 17 children with ADHD found evidence that a 20-minute walk in the park could help improve concentration more than a walk of the same length in an urban setting.
8. Listen to Music
This could not be missing from the list. Music is internationally acknowledged as a global language, I would say it is the soul’s and spirit’s language.
Even if you don’t enjoy listening to music while you work, using nature sounds or white noise to mask background sounds could also help improve concentration and other brain functions.
It is important to mention that not all genres and tunes are good for concentration, experts recommend classical, baroque and nature sounds for a better effect.
But if you are not a fan of these styles, there are also other options that may help, for example, ambient or electronic music without lyrics.
Oh, it is also important that your selections be neutral, meaning that the songs should be new for you preferably, or else you’ll be singing along or tapping to the beat instead of concentrating. 🙂
How does the brain work when we listen to music?
Here is where the type of music plays a key role since the chemicals released during a session of music vary depending on the genre and if the song has lyrics or not.
While classical or nature sounds release more serotonin, average tunes release more dopamine, both are neurotransmitters but affect different reactions and functions in our bodies.
We recommend going for those who help you release more serotonin for a mellow approach to your tasks at hand.
9. Try meditation
Meditators are less likely to find themselves at the mercy of distractions and a restless mind than people who don’t meditate. There are many different meditation techniques for concentration; if you’re looking to sharpen your focus, you can choose one that appeals to you.
This technique has increased its popularity among the youth and older people.
This technique is not new though.
Many activities, including driving, playing sports or music, reading, and paying attention at work or at school, require high levels of concentration. In addition, you’re more likely to derive satisfaction from honing in on and accomplishing one chosen task than from trying to juggle several at one go. As you train the mind to remain present and fully focused on one object – physical sensations or the process of breathing, for example – you learn to let go of all other thoughts and distractions as well.
There’s a lot of freedom in discovering that you don’t have to pay attention to every little thing that pops into your mind. When you can be mindful at will, your ability to concentrate naturally increases.
The goal of Zen meditation is to regulate attention. It’s sometimes referred to as a practice that involves “thinking about not thinking.”
Zen meditation is similar to mindfulness in that it’s about focusing on the presence of the mind. However, mindfulness focuses on a specific object, and Zen meditation involves general awareness.
Over time, they learn how to keep their minds from wandering and may even be able to tap into their unconscious minds. Often, the goal is to become more aware of preconceived notions and gain insight into oneself.
Counting the breath cycles
A recent study suggested that deep breathing has a positive impact on our bodies since it helps us deal more skillfully with stress.
This form of meditation takes mindfulness a step further by giving the meditator a dynamic task: count – inhale, exhale, one. Inhale, exhale, two. Inhale, exhale, three, and so on. Remaining fully aware during this process is a powerful training in concentration – many people notice that their minds have wandered before they can count to three. With time and patience, though, their ability to focus improves and they can keep counting… The sky’s the limit!
10. Try supplements
In our last point, we are going through the supplements, a world that has to be handled by a specialist in order to assess your current situation and what are the best options for you.
A nutritional supplement can add minerals, vitamins, amino acids, herbs, or enzymes.
It’s often possible to get all the vitamins you need by adding certain foods to your diet, but supplements can sometimes help you meet daily intake goals.
The following supplements may help promote increased concentration and overall brain health:
-Omega 3 fatty acids
-Guarana seed extract
Conditions that affect concentration
There are scenarios where our focus and concentration can be challenged in either external or internal conditions.
-social media notifications
-Tv or radio
- Work or school stressors
- Relationship stressors
- Fear or anxiety
- A sense of being overwhelmed
Our best wish is to contribute valuable information that helps you enhance your focus and concentration habits.
Even though these recommendations are trustful and very effective in many cases, we prompt you to visit a specialist to get the best advice for your body and mind.
Remember that a healthy body is a healthy mind and vice-versa.
Please share your thoughts with us and tell us if you have applied some of these tips in the past, or will plan to use any of them in the future?