8 Tips To Improving Focus
Some days we just can’t help it, and our brain is in a fog, and none of our thoughts seem to stick around, making daily tasks seem unmanageable and daunting. Trying to get any work done can be difficult, and when there are deadlines, for some reason, the motivation simply isn’t there, sending us into a panic at the last minute trying to finish everything.
Whether it’s because you have a million other things to worry about, a lack of motivation to finish a project you aren’t passionate about, or if you’re stuck on a hard problem at work, having a lack of concentration can really put you into a bad mood. When you know you need to be focusing but cannot, it can take a toll on your energy and self-esteem!
Losing focus does not mean that you have a bad attention span; it just means that you might have more difficulty concentrating on what you need to get done.
If you feel that recently it’s been more challenging for you to focus on the things you need to, it might be time to consider some of the suggestions below on how to improve your focus. You won’t be able to improve your focus without understanding where the lack of it might be stemming from.
Factors That Cause Us To Lose Focus
Many different factors can contribute to a lack of focus. How big of an attention span you have can influence the amount of time you might pay attention to when someone is explaining something to you, but losing focus correlates with your concentration.
When you are concentrating, you are using mental effort to focus on just one thing. Using your mental effort requires energy, and if you aren’t fueling your body with enough energy, focusing may become more difficult for you to do.
Some factors that might cause you to lose focus are:
- Loud noises
- Age, both young and old
- Lack of sleep
- Head injuries
- Medical conditions
- Poor nutrition (including vitamin deficiencies)
It’s important that we pinpoint the problems we are having that might be influencing our lack of focus. When we are armed with that knowledge, we can decide what things we need to change to become more focused individuals.
Conditions That Affect Focus
Some people struggle with different medical conditions that make it more difficult for them to remain focused. It’s important to understand if you are affected by any of these conditions. There might be more individualized approaches to help improve your focus, which will help soothe the symptoms of conditions.
- Concussions or head injuries: For many, if you are currently experiencing a head injury or concussion, you might experience side effects of loss of concentration and focus, but for many, it will improve over time. There might be some lingering side effects, like forgetfulness, but your ability to focus should come back eventually!
- ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder): Those with ADHD have a persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity that might create issues with staying focused for long periods on things that are deemed important. To overcome this, it might take medication and therapy before you begin to see a major change in your ability to focus.
- Vision problems: This can cause inattention because it’s hard to keep focused when your sight is blurry. Trying to concentrate can actually cause headaches which will burn many people out from trying to pay attention.
- Untreated depression and anxiety: When you struggle with an undiagnosed or untreated mental disorder, it can be challenging to maintain focus, concentrate, retain new information, and connect information. Untreated mental disorders can cause mood changes and emotional turmoil, which will divert your focus away from the tasks at hand.
Ways To Improve Focus
Luckily, there are ways for many people to learn how to improve their focus. Many times it can be as easy as going to bed an hour earlier to allow your body to recharge, to enhance your ability to focus.
While it can be done, it does require effort to actually implement the changes that need to be made to improve this part of you. It’s not overnight that you can train yourself to be someone who can focus; it takes effort and practice and a lot of frustrations to feel you’ve made a difference.
Below are 8 different ways to improve your focus, and it can often while putting in the work to be a healthier and happier individual.
1. Regulate Your Sleep Schedule
Every individual has different needs when it comes to sleeping. Some people might need more to recuperate from their days, and others might feel they function fine off very little of it.
Lack of sleep or sleep deprivation can disrupt one’s ability to focus. It had been found that sleep deprivation did cause issues with attention and working memory, so it was obvious that those who got less sleep had a more challenging time keeping their concentration.
Getting enough sleep can be difficult. People have busy, fluctuating schedules, and cramming everything you need to do along with the things you want to do into a day can mean you lose an hour or two of precious sleep.
We need our sleep to rejuvenate through the night and fill up on energy. Sleeping allows us to wake up feeling rested and energized, and if we aren’t getting enough of it, its effects will show. Sleep allows our brain to regulate, enhance memory, and improve nerve function.
One of the ultimate energy-boosting hacks you've probably have heard of and tried is power naps. If you have some extra time to spare in your day and need a bit of a boost, try taking a quick power nap to reset your body.
To regulate your sleep schedule, it could be helpful for you to set alarm clocks to tell you to start to get ready for bed. Having a set bedtime and a routine before bed can get you into the habit of getting enough sleep each night.
Taking into account what time you need to be up the following day should also influence when you fall asleep, as most adults need at least seven hours of sleep each night to function properly throughout the day.
2. Try To Exercise Daily
From a young age, we are told that we should be exercising for 30 minutes each day, at the minimum. Exercise gets our hearts beating, blood pumping, and oxygen circulating, and even just a little bit each day can truly make a difference in your ability to focus.
Studies found that exercise affects molecular events related to energy metabolism and synaptic plasticity. Energy metabolism refers to the process of generating energy from nutrients, and synaptic plasticity is the ability of your synapses to strengthen or weaken over time, which either decreases or increases their ability to function. Exercising, even if just for a little bit, can truly impact your brain's cognitive function.
Finding an exercise that you love to do is important. Not everyone will love long-distance running or going to the gym, but there are plenty of options for you to participate in. Practicing yoga and some light cardio will put you in a better mind frame to focus on what you need to do!
3. Focus On Your Nutrition
Food plays a major role in supplying you with enough energy to complete your daily tasks. If you are not eating foods that are good for you or give you sustained energy, you might feel burnt out faster. For instance, finding foods high in protein, complex carbs, and healthy fats will help you create more sustainable energy.
When consuming healthy foods like fruits, dark leafy greens, fatty fish such as salmon, and healthy fats like avocado, can you provide your body with the nutrients it needs to help your brain function.
Foods such as salmon, chia seeds, and hemp seeds are rich in omega 3's, and can help with brain fog and memory. The food you eat will be converted into energy that your body uses up to work throughout the day, so it’s important that you are eating a healthy breakfast and lunch, especially on days where you need to focus more.
If you are hungry, you might easily become distracted!
4. Drink Plenty of Water Throughout the Day
The brain is made up of 75 percent water, yet it has nowhere to store that water, meaning that to feel your best and be able to focus, you need to supply your brain with a steady stream of water. This may seem easy, but for many, it’s quite difficult!
Starting your day with a glass of water can help you get into the habit of drinking more frequently throughout the rest of the day or buying a fancy water bottle that you can carry around wherever you go!
This steady flow of water helps to maintain both short-term and long-term memory retention and avoids dehydration. When you become dehydrated, even mildly, you may experience fogginess, confusion, and the inability to focus.
Aim for at least half of your body weight in ounces. If needed, set reminders throughout the day to drink 8 ounces of water at a time. Eventually you will notice the mental benefits to a consistent water intake.
5. Create a Daily To-Do List
When you have a million things that you need to do, deadlines to meet, and places to be, it can be really difficult to keep track of everything. Not knowing which task you should complete first or when your deadlines are can make it difficult to focus, so finding ways to organize that work for you is key.
For many, creating a simple to-do list each day can help to zero in on what needs to be done. Our tip to you is to write out your list of everything you need to do, either in order of how they need to be done or by numbering them afterward based on their importance.
This can help you rank the importance of your tasks, getting the most important ones done first. Plus, checking off things from your list is extremely exciting, and you can see all of the progress you’ve made!
6. Take Breaks
If you’ve been working for what feels like hours on end, your eyes are drying out from staring at the computer, and you keep noticing your thoughts are beginning to trail, it might be time for a little break.
Stepping away from what you are doing allows you to recharge your brain and improve your overall usefulness.
With notifications like phone calls and text messages popping up, you may tend to be on your phone, which can be a huge time-sucker. Being on your phone constantly and on a computer for a long period can be pretty draining on your cognitive function and focus. If you're having trouble completing a single task, try stepping away from electronics for a second to refresh your brain.
One study was done on two groups of students who were meant to complete a task within a 45-minute time frame. Half of the students were given a 5-minute break halfway through, and the others did not. Those that received a break performed better and had better attention than the other students.
Some fun activities you could do during a break period that don't require a lot of energy include brain training games, jigsaw puzzles, sudoku, and crossword puzzles. Brain training games can help improve your short-term memory, processing, and problem-solving skills. Playing some background music like classical music or nature sounds can be pretty relaxing during your break periods.
Don’t be ashamed to watch that cute video of dogs that your friend sent you—we promise that it actually helps!
7. Practice Mindfulness
Along with exercising your body, exercising your mind is important to uphold your brain’s ability to stay focused and concentrate. Mindfulness can be practiced in many ways, including meditation, journaling, deep breathing, or even yoga. Mindfulness is when you can be consciously aware of something. It often can help people to slow down and consider their options, as well as helps to combat stress and anxiety.
People who practice mindfulness more often than others might have the ability to focus better because they are more tuned into their surroundings, making them less distracting and more cohesive. If you’ve never tried mindfulness, there are plenty of ways for you to start. You can simply:
- Put down your phone for a little
- Take a few deep breaths
- Listen to the sounds around you outside
- Practice mindfulness meditation
You don’t need to do much to practice mindfulness; as long as you take some time to focus on the things around you, you will see improvements in your overall focus and ability to concentrate.
8. Try Different Teas
If you want to skip a cup of coffee, drinking tea instead may help improve your focus. Many teas contain caffeine, which improves your focus and ability to concentrate, but in much lower amounts than coffee. This means that it should leave you feeling less jittery and more focused after you’ve drank it.
Some types of tea that can help you focus include:
- Peppermint tea: The peppermint oil that is found in this tea is known to help improve focus and cognition. Peppermint tea is also caffeine-free, making it a great alternative when you’ve surpassed your caffeine intake for the day!
- Echinacea tea: This tea affects the synapses that allow you to relax easier, making this tea a great stress reliever. By drinking this tea when stressed, you allow your mind to focus more deeply as the stressors are soothed.
- Tea with minced garlic and ginger, honey, and lemon: Ginger and garlic both have the ability to improve memory and attention, so mixing them with honey and lemon to make a powerful tea is a perfect way to boost your concentration.
- Use a honey spoon: Honey has been found to act as a natural preventative to dementia and cognitive decline. By putting your honey in everything, from teas to yogurt, to rice cakes, you are working toward improving your focus.
Improve Your Focus With Vessel Health
If you are feeling groggy recently, having a hard time staying focused on your tasks, and it’s affecting your ability to feel successful, it might be time to look inside your body to find the problem.
Sometimes getting more sleep is not the only answer, and it takes testing to learn where this fatigue and inability to concentrate is stemming from. No two people are the same, so different tips and tricks might not work for everyone!
With resources like Vessel, you can get to the bottom of many of your health-related issues because we will provide you with your vitamin, nutrient, sleep, and stress levels. All you have to do is pee on the Wellness Card that we ship to you and scan it with the app on your phone.
From there, we can tell you all about your nutrient levels and make suggestions on improving your diet and lifestyle, all so that you can begin to feel better in your skin.
Vessel was created by doctors, nutritionists, and scientists, who all wanted to make it easy for people to understand what is going on within their bodies. Sometimes finding this information can mean several trips to the doctors, but with Vessel, you can learn this information from the comfort of your own home and track any progress that you’ve made.
If you are looking to improve your focus but don’t know where to start, sign-up with Vessel today and encounter a world of new opportunities!
Mikaela Frame See all the author’s articles