6 Simple Ways to Boost Your Concentration
Do you struggle to keep your mind focused on your daily tasks? Do you constantly battle to stay concentrated and clear during long days? Are you a master procrastinator who always seems to be frantically working up to the deadline?
Concentration can be elusive to master and impossible to keep. But with our six simple techniques, you’ll be able to sustain your focus and improve your mental clarity with ease.
1. Chow down on Brain-Boosting Food
“You are what you eat” may be an overused catchphrase touted by every weight loss “expert” around. But it rings surprisingly true — especially when it comes to brainpower.
Think of food as the fuel that powers your body and energises your mind — the better, more effective the fuel, the more you get out of it. There is no specific diet that will boost your focus, concentration and mental clarity. There are, however, a whole host of foods that pack a punch when it comes to powering your brain and boosting your focus. These are foods that contain lots of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and phytonutrients that keep your mind thriving and your concentration strong. Among the top choices are:
- Omega-rich fatty fish such as salmon
- Dark chocolate and cocoa
- Leafy green vegetables
If you’ve got a big test coming up or need to fine-tune your focus and concentration, you may also want to avoid consuming refined sugar. We’re all prone to shovelling in the sweets when faced with an exhausting task, searching for a seductive “sugar high”. But sadly it’s a false hope. You may feel an initial surge of energy. This energy boost, however, will quickly subside, leaving you feeling low, worn-out and unable to focus on the task on hand. Not only that, but sugar is scientifically proven to negatively impact your attention span, ability to learn, and your short-term memory by changing your brainwave patterns!
2. Limit Your Caffeine Consumption
Who here is prone to chain-drinking endless cups of coffee throughout their long working day or to power revision sessions? Or are you constantly brewing more of the brown elixir in the hope of staving off tiredness? For many of us, caffeine is our one-stop-shop for powering our brain. Over a billion people start their day with a caffeinated tea or coffee to brush away the cobwebs and awaken the mind.
We know what you’re thinking — caffeine is a safe, efficient and effective way of increasing energy, awareness, focus and productivity. And you’re not wrong, for caffeine does indeed increase the levels of dopamine in the brain, a chemical said to boost all of those things. It also contains a bunch of antioxidants and nutrients. Green tea also contains a range of relaxing compounds like theanine. But as with many things, balance is the key.
To keep your concentration sharp and your mind focused, you need to keep your caffeine consumption in check — and we’re not just talking about cups of coffee. From energy drinks to green tea, caffeine is present in a range of products, and it’s all too easy to tip from a good energy boost into overstimulation. Caffeine stimulates hormones, such as cortisol. A stress hormone, cortisol can induce anxiety, irritability, heart palpitations and insomnia. It can also reduce the blood flow to the brain and leave us feeling more jittery and restless than focused and in control.
Each of us will have a limit on the amount of caffeine that works for us. As a general measure, try having only two to three caffeinated drinks per day. Also, try swapping caffeinated beverages for herbal teas such as chamomile and peppermint.
3. Do a Digital Detox
Technology is incredible. It connects us and presents us with a world of information, knowledge and possibilities at the click of a button. Our lives are, in many ways, structured by digital technologies. After all, who here can go a full day without our phones, or laptops, or pads? There’s nothing immediately wrong with technology and we’d never recommend doing away with it altogether. But our dependency on it can be problematic.
When you’re bombarded with social media feeds, endless news stories (each more depressing than the next) and uninterrupted opportunities to connect, it’s not surprising you struggle to keep your mind focused. It’s a contemporary iteration of the inability to see the wood for the trees.
So give yourself a break and unclutter your mind with a thirty-minute digital detox. No laptop, phone, smartwatch — just give yourself some time to reconnect with yourself and your environment. Take a walk amongst mood-enhancing and happiness-inducing trees. You’ll be surprised how much only a little time away from your favourite technologies can calm your mind.
4. Meditate Your Mind to Clarity
Meditation has been practised for thousands of years as a way of boosting concentration, improving focus, and deepening your ability to learn. Today, science has proven this ancient practice can lead to greater productivity, focus and attention. Try a guided meditation class, tai chi class or yoga class and tap into an ancient way of focusing the mind.
5. Tidy Your Space
Whether you claim your mess is a symptom of your creative temperament or you are too overwhelmed to tidy, your mess may be affecting your concentration. It turns out that your mum’s repeated phrase — “a messy space, a messy mind”— is true. Research shows clutter negatively affects your ability to concentrate and process information, while a tidy space can boost mental clarity and focus. So no more excuses!
6. Allow Yourself Time to Relax and Unwind
Have you ever experienced the frustrating cycle of “need to focus, can’t focus, get more stressed, can’t focus, get even more stressed and become more unable to focus?” Stress, in short bursts, can be beneficial. That burst of adrenaline can give you the extra push to finish whatever you are working on. But over time, stress can have a serious impact on your memory, attention span and judgement. Recent research also suggests that chronic stress can cause damage to the brain structure.
We know there’s nothing worse than someone telling you not to stress when you’re stressed. But knowing when to stop and de-stress is integral to boosting your concentration. Take time to indulge in the things that make you feel relaxed, have a bath, read a book, get a massage or acupuncture.
There are hundreds of relaxing, restorative and brain-enhancing holistic therapies out there. Browse our range of therapies and therapists in your area to power your brain and supercharge your concentration.