Whether you are struggling to remember the last item on the shopping list or scratching your head for the answer to the multiple choice question on your exam that will help you pass, it can’t be denied that focus and concentration are crucial to our daily routines.
The good news is that there are skills you can learn and things you can do to allow your brain to focus better.
This guide aims to help improve concentration and mental focus by removing distractions, and simply using some simple yet clever concentration techniques.
Start fighting distractions
It was arguably easier for our ancestors to avoid distractions since they didn’t have all the technology we have around us now. They didn’t have advertisements and billboards or social networking websites. That’s right. All of these are distractions that you need to avoid to stay focused on the task you are trying to do.
Although you might think you are being more productive by attempting to do several things at once, you aren’t. Multitasking is more or less a myth where your brain simply paces back and forth between things, leading to further mental stress.
In addition to the above, a lack of mindfulness in the present has been found to promote brain aging by shortening protective end caps on your chromosomes called telomeres.
Clutter is detrimental
Brain MRIs prove that clutter adversely affects your ability to concentrate and process information. Having an organized environment can make you more focused and productive, however.
Find The Perfect Environment For Yourself
Some people need complete silence while others concentrate better in the buzz of their favorite coffee shop. Classical music, especially Mozart and Baroque music, is often cited as the top brain-boosting music.
If you concentrate best in total silence, consider getting a pair of noise cancelling headphones for enhanced concentration.
Nourish Your Brain
If you can’t concentrate, it’s possible that your brain isn’t getting the nutrition it needs. Start by eating plenty of fruits and vegetables which are high in vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients your brain needs. Also, avoid white sugar and refined carbs which make your blood sugar level fluctuate sporadically.
Your brain also needs a steady supply of blood glucose since brain cells don’t store energy. Avoid MSG, aspartame and other artificial sweeteners. Use a wide variety of herbs and spices to make your meals delicious and brain-healthy. Rosemary and turmeric are particularly good for the brain.
Remember that your brain is mostly made up of fat, so eat plenty of healthy high-fat foods like nuts and avocados. Low-fat diets haven’t made us thin and they have been a disaster for our brains so don’t go for those! Sometimes, they can even contribute to Alzheimer’s.
Use coconut oil instead of canola and soy oil which contains medium chain triglycerides that bypass glucose metabolism, getting energy directly to the neurons. If you are a fan of chocolate, go get yourself some dark chocolate. Flavonoids, caffeine and theobromine work together to improve memory and concentration.
Consider buying MCT Oil (sold as Brain Octane Oil) which is a more refined version of coconut oil.
Fill Nutritional Deficiency Gaps
The three most common deficiencies that can wreak havoc with brain function are omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
Docosahexaenoic acid (DHA) is an omega-3 essential fatty acid that is a major building block in the brain. A DHA deficiency has been linked to many brain problems and psychiatric disorders. Memory loss, depression, mood swings, dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) have all been found to improve with DHA supplementation.
Vitamin B12 is the most common vitamin deficiency in the USA, particularly among seniors who often have poor absorption. People who eat little or no meat are particularly at risk, since animal foods are the only dependable sources of B12.
Vitamin D can lift your mood, improve memory, and increase problem-solving ability. However, most Americans and Europeans are deficient in it due to the climate.
Neurotransmitters like Dopamine provide your “get up and go.” If you have trouble concentrating, you may have a dopamine deficiency. Low energy, motivation, and libido are all signs of low dopamine. A protein-rich diet is an excellent source of the amino acids needed to create dopamine.
Besides all animal products, foods that promote dopamine formation include avocados, apples, bananas, beets, sea vegetables, green leafy vegetables, oatmeal, chocolate, green tea, and coffee.
Additionally, the top supplements to improve concentration by boosting dopamine levels are tyrosine (an amino acid), Phosphatidylserine (PS), and Ginkgo biloba.
Surprisingly, physical exercise also boosts dopamine production. Taking walks, or doing gentle, no-impact exercises like yoga, tai chi, or qi gong all provide powerful mind-body benefits.
Meditate regularly to improve concentration
Chronic stress can lead to depression, anxiety, poor decision making, sleeplessness, and impaired memory. When facing chronic stress, your brain undergoes biochemical and structural changes that cause your brain to prematurely age and literally to shrink.
As a result, the best technique to reduce stress and improve concentration is meditation. Movies, TV Shows and Asian culture have already shown us the benefits of meditation. Meditation can make you happier, smarter, and more resilient to life’s ups and downs.
According to studies, regular meditators experience improved concentration and focus, memory, greater creativity, stress reduction, and better sleep. It can also decrease your biological age by 12 years. Impressive, right?
It’s clearly not possible for us to stay engaged or excited about something forever. We all get bored from time to time and here are some tips on how to tackle this problem to increase mental focus.
Chewing Gum May Help with Memory
Chewing gum boosts accuracy rates and reaction times while increasing ability to concentrate and focus. It is also believed that gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention.
Improve Concentration with Eating Mints?
Just a whiff of peppermint improves concentration, memory, and attention span.
Start Doodling for Mental Focus
Doodling or randomly drawing has been shown to not only exercise your brain, but helps you concentrate, grasp new concepts, and retain information.
Understand your “Biorhythm”
Do tasks you aren’t too excited about when you are most alert. Scientists have found there is a best time to do everything and that includes concentrating. While everyone is different, most adults do their best thinking in the late morning as their working memory, alertness and concentration reach their peak.
Sleep Properly to be able to Focus the Next Day
If you didn’t get enough sleep last night or suffer with low-level chronic lack of sleep for whatever reasons, you’ll have a hard time concentrating.
Stay Hydrated to Increase Concentration
Drinking water may be the easiest way to improve memory and concentration. Water makes up 75% of the brain but most of us are chronically dehydrated. Even mild dehydration results in shrinkage of brain tissue and temporary loss of cognitive function, including concentration and memory.
A little coffee can help you get through a boring morning meeting. It boosts blood flow to the brain to improve concentration, mood and alertness.
And keep in mind that the half-life of caffeine is around 5-6 hours, so you may have to stop drinking caffeine by early afternoon so that it won’t keep you up at night.
Develop Focus by Starting Yoga!
We have already discussed the benefits of meditation. Doing yoga can also boost your brain power even more than doing conventional aerobic exercise. Even one session of yoga significantly improves working memory and concentration.
One of the best Concentration Hacks for Improving Mental Focus
The “pomodoro technique” was developed by an Italian graduate student as a study aid.
- Pick a task you want to concentrate on, one that needs your undivided attention.
- Remove obvious distractions (like putting away your phone).
- Tell those around you not to disturb you.
- Set a timer for 25 minutes then give the task at hand your all.
- If your mind starts wandering snap yourself back and remind yourself you only need to keep up this level of concentration for a few more minutes.
- When the 25 minutes is done, take a 5-minute break.
- Walk around. Do some stretches.
- When you’re ready, you can do another “pomodoro,” a block of 25 minutes of intense concentration.
You will be fairly surprised at how good this tactic is at boosting your concentration and productivity.
What Should You Do Next to increase your Focus?
Now that you have read the full article – hopefully with your full concentration – make sure you’re giving your brain the basics it needs to function its best like brain-healthy foods, sleep, and mind-body exercises like yoga or qi gong.
Reduce stress and halt brain aging by meditating and giving up multitasking. Boost your dopamine levels and address nutritional deficiency gaps with the right supplements from the right companies. If you feel like you’ve tried everything but still can’t concentrate, you may or may not have a health condition that you will have to seek advice for from a professional.
However, sometimes, the answer can be as simple as getting a pair of reading glasses. These are some of the tips and techniques you can use to answer how to build focus and concentration. Try some of these out and watch your brain get stronger and sharper.