If you are like many people, you struggle to concentrate throughout the day. Whether this issue stays at school or work or pervades more of your life, when you can’t focus, it can have an impact on your health. A lack of focus can aggravate anxiety and depression, and when you are absent-minded, you are more likely to hurt yourself or get into an accident. Therefore, it is important to prioritize improving your concentration so you can have a healthy, full life. In this blog, we will go over some ways you can naturally enhance your concentration.

Eat breakfast

Your mother told you that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, and she wasn’t wrong. Eating breakfast fuels your body and mind for the rest of the day. When you don’t eat breakfast, you may notice that you feel sluggish and unmotivated, and you think more about your growling stomach than the tasks in front of you. One of the best ways you can improve your focus is by prioritizing eating a healthy breakfast. A healthy breakfast that will help you focus could be a veggie omelet, a piece of whole wheat toast, and a cup of coffee. Regardless of what you choose, make sure it has protein and it isn’t loaded with sugar, which will guarantee a crash later that certainly won’t help you focus.

Exercise

Exercise is a natural way to improve focus. During aerobic exercise, your brain produces more catecholamines, a neurotransmitter that increases concentration. If you struggle to focus in the morning, try starting your day with a run, a fitness class or video, or even a simple brisk walk. This way, you can benefit from the focus-boosting powers of exercise all day long. Even if working out in the morning isn’t your cup of tea, exercising at any time of day will benefit your focus. Use your lunch break to work out, hit a spin class after work, or go lift some weights after dinner. However you can incorporate exercise into your life, do so.

Get adequate sleep

There are many people who don’t consider the importance of sleep when it comes to concentration, but it is an integral part of being able to focus. When you don’t get sufficient sleep, you are probably familiar with the consequences: you feel tired, groggy, fatigued, and can’t stop thinking about taking a nap later. Multiple studies have found that lack of sleep severely impacts your ability to concentrate. Therefore, do yourself a favor and get a minimum of seven hours of sleep per night. You will find that you can focus much better when you do.

Meditate

Meditation has proven to be effective at improving focus. If you think about it, it makes sense. When you meditate, you clear your mind of the thousands of thoughts that float around your mind on a daily basis. It requires you to focus on your breath and one creating a tranquil state of mind. Something as simple as meditating for ten minutes a day can have a powerful effect on your ability to concentrate. If you are new to meditation, try a guided meditation CD or video. There are also many apps available that allow you to practice your meditation with your smartphone.

Limit distractions

There are a million different ways to distract yourself from the task at hand, and if you let your mind wander, you may find that you will focus on everything besides what you are supposed to be doing. To address this problem, limit distractions as much as possible. Noise-cancelling headphones can help in spaces where there is a lot of noise or activity. Putting your phone out of your sight and signing out of any social media accounts before you get started can make you think twice before indulging in those distractions. If you can get away with it, you may also try working offline entirely to avoid the temptation of the world wide web.

Focus on smaller tasks

Sometimes, people have difficulty focusing because the task at hand seems so insurmountable. There is so much to be done, where do you even begin? Then, suddenly, you need to make a phone call or look up one thing online or just make a small snack… and now your mind is everywhere. Instead of looking at the big picture, it helps your focus if you break it into smaller, more manageable tasks. For example, if you have a big deadline at the end of the week that feels daunting, try breaking it into smaller chunks each day. This way, you won’t feel overwhelmed, which naturally makes our minds distracted.

Use a timer

If you have difficulty concentrating, use technology to your advantage. Set a timer at certain intervals, depending on how often you usually find yourself distracted. When the timer goes off, it’s your time to assess: is what I am doing now a priority? If it is not, the timer going off lets you know it is time to get back on task. You can also use this strategy to expand your attention span. For example, you may set off a timer for every ten minutes and see how long you can stay on task; then the following week, you can raise that to 12 minutes, and so on and so forth.

Write things down

You have been working on a deadline, but you can’t stop having random, intrusive thoughts: “I need to make a dentist’s appointment.” “I need to return that library book.” “I should really call my sister.” These types of thoughts make it impossible to focus on the task at hand. If this is your trouble with concentration, you may benefit from a “random thoughts” pad of paper. Keep this next to you while you work, and when one of these thoughts present themselves, jot it down real quick so you don’t have to worry about it anymore. Your random thought pad can be helpful to carry around in your daily life as well, particularly if you feel that your thoughts are scattered throughout the day. Writing something down not only allows you to check back and remember what you were thinking about, it calms the mind by presenting thoughts in an organized, visual way.

Take a break

If you have been staring at your screen for an hour and have been getting nowhere with work, it is only going to make it more difficult to get to a place of focus. Instead, when your mind is wandering and your energy feels zapped, give yourself a five to ten minute break. Get up to use the restroom, take a walk around, make a cup of tea, grab some water; just something to give your eyes and mind a rest. Then you can come back with a refreshed mind and renewed concentration.

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