Bringing Your Concentration into Better Focus

Bringing Your Concentration into Better Focus

With streaming TV, constant social media pings and ever-present work and family responsibilities, is it any wonder many of us find it difficult to maintain our focus? Regardless of profession or lifestyle, we all need to concentrate to finish tasks and job requirements, recall critical information, and avoid traffic accidents.

“Concentration is the mental effort a person directs toward a specific thing or whatever they’re working on or learning at the very moment,” said Amanda Nies, DO, a neurologist with Holland Hospital Neurology. “Concentration can be confused with attention, or the state in which you’re interested in everything happening around you.”

Both attention and concentration can vary for many reasons, from age to mental health issues to how one manages everyday stress. The good news is, there are a variety of ways you can improve your ability to concentrate. Here are seven:

  • Get quality Zzzs Sleep deprivation disrupts concentration, as well as other cognitive functions, including memory and attention. Adults should strive for seven to nine hours of sleep per 24 hours; school-age kids, preschoolers and toddlers need more rest.

  • Cut back on TV and overall screen time. “When the brain is battered by so much stimulation and information overload, it can be challenging to concentrate on any single thing,” Dr. Nies said. “Decreasing the time you spend watching TV, checking email and scrolling on your phone can enhance your focus, not to mention help you sleep better and reduce your risk of health conditions like obesity, diabetes and depression.”

  • Explore the great outdoors. Get outside every day for at least 15 to 20 minutes. A short walk through a park, or sitting in your garden or backyard can help you and your mind unwind.

  • Watch what you eat. Heavy, high-fat meals can leave you feeling sluggish. Too much sugar and processed foods can also affect your cognitive functioning. Try these foods to augment your brain power, and remember, staying hydrated is important for concentration, too.

  • Work it out. Regular exercise is good for your brain and body. If you struggle to find time to exercise, work in some short bursts of activity throughout the day. For example, can you walk your kids to school or ride your bike to the grocery store?

  • Give yourself a break. While it might sound counterintuitive, taking a break from work can help you feel more focused, motivated and/or creative when you return to the task or responsibility. If you feel your concentration dropping, refresh yourself with a cool drink or nutritious snack; stand up, stretch and go for a quick walk; or breathe deeply to re-center yourself.

  • Practice meditation and mindfulness; both offer many benefits, from improving sleep to curbing anxiety and stress to boosting brain functioning.

Holland Hospital Neurology strives to help patients realize improved quality of life by offering the full spectrum of treatments and therapies for diseases of the brain, spinal cord, nerves and muscles. If you’re experiencing ongoing concerns that are not alleviated by the above tips, talk to your primary care doctor.

If your concerns could be related to menopause, an appointment with our women’s health experts may be just what you’re looking for. No referral is needed at Holland Hospital Women’s Specialty Care. Call (616) 748-5785 for a comprehensive evaluation.

  • Amanda S. Nies, DO

    Amanda S. Nies, DO

    Holland Hospital Neurology
    577 Michigan Ave, Suite 203
    Holland, MI 49423
    P: (616) 396-7366
    F: (616) 392-2889

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