Here are 5 IDEAL solutions.
We’re all guilty of it. Whether it’s when you’re firing off emails on autopilot, playing with the kids without the requisite enthusiasm, or listening to the finer details of your partner’s latest dispute and only umming and ahhing, it’s only natural that sometimes we zone out a little.
Indeed, having problems with concentration is something that will have affected everyone at some stage. But what happens if you’re always suffering from poor concentration and it’s beginning to affect your work and relationships negatively? As you can appreciate, this is when intervention is required.
You’re likely reading this article today because you’re fed up with having poor concentration, and you want to do something about it. Perhaps you’re keen to live each day mindfully and in the moment, and benefit from the wisdom and insights such ‘presentness’ brings. The good news is that there are tried-and-tested remedies available for those concerned about their concentration. So, do you suffer from poor concentration? If so, here are 5 IDEAL solutions.
PRIORITISE BETTER SLEEP HYGIENE
Sure, some people don’t need as much sleep as others each night. But let’s not kid ourselves; if you’re only getting around five hours or less each night, it’ll impact your concentration levels hugely. When you sleep, your brain uses the time to ‘recharge’ itself, and not getting enough of the good stuff is hugely impactful on our cognitive function. Indeed, the right amount of sleep is so good for your productivity and performance, and insufficient or excessive so bad, that it’s often suggested that sleep should be prescribed by doctors.
By getting enough sleep each night – between 7 and 8 hours is best for cognitive performance and quick thinking – you’ll feel more alert and focused when you wake up. Plus, you’ll have enough energy to deal with even the most taxing of issues that your day throws at you.
But how to do sleep better, we hear you ask. Firstly, it’s vital that you perfect that bedtime routine, because how you set up for sleep and your activity in the hours preceding it are the key components in whether it’s a restful one or not.
Exercising a couple of hours before sleep, as well as yoga or meditation just before you tuck in, can be really helpful, but perhaps even more seismic is to remove all distractions not related to sleep from the bedroom, most importantly, blue light-emitting screens and anything which produces alerts (looking at you, phone) which you’ll feel obliged to respond to. Try to turn in at the same time each night to hack your circadian rhythm and get your body clock working to your needs, not the other way round.
Take a look at this guide from https://www.helpguide.org to find out more about how much sleep you need and the best ways to achieve it.
…AND GET YOUR MORNING ROUTINE SORTED
Another key contributor to great sleep hygiene and improved concentration throughout the day is making sure your morning routine is primed and optimised. Sure, we’re not all suited to sprightly, early-bird tendencies, but becoming a morning person will definitely help with your concentration, and that’s for sure.
It’s all about the small rituals you enact and reenact each morning and the positive habits you form because of them. We’re sure you already know that the ‘snooze’ button is an ally of groggy, tired eyes. Those extra few minutes, which seem so precious at the time, aren’t sufficient for completing another full sleep cycle, and as such, it will have you feeling less rested than if you’d leapt up when you first woke.
But how to leap up? Since most of us hit the snooze button impulsively, simply place your alarm clock out of reach, so you have to leave bed to turn it off. Then, ride that wave of motion and momentum all the way to the kettle! Good morning.
A spot of light exercise in the morning can also contribute to greater concentration throughout the day, boosting cortisol and endorphin production, which are great contributors to our alertness and focus. Of course, a light, healthy breakfast also does no harm!
GET YOUR EYES CHECKED
Do you tend to feel more lethargic as the day progresses? Does a headache emerge after a couple of hours of staring at a screen, and then refuses to abate? And do you always need to focus really hard on distant objects or ones near to your eyes? If you’ve answered reluctantly in the affirmative to these questions, then you’ll likely need to take a trip to your local opticians. They say that ‘protecting your eyesight protects your brain’, and we couldn’t agree more.
That’s because poor eyesight can result in concentration problems. If you have to spend a lot of time squinting or overly focusing on objects, you’ll feel exhausted, and you’re at risk of diverting cognitive energy to attempts at realigning your vision. As a result, your concentration levels will plummet.
Most people’s eyesight worsens as they age and many of those people will need corrective eyeglasses or contact lenses as a matter of course. An eye test is quite cheap, and sometimes free, depending on where you go, and every adult should have one once in a while. And when it comes to buying new eyeglasses, consider that getting them online, from sites like https://www.eyeglasses.com or more locally, Specsavers’ online store, can save you up to 50% on high street purchases.
…AND YOUR EARS
If your concentration suffers throughout the day, you might also want to consider getting your hearing tested. Those who suffer from lessened auditory perception or impaired hearing may also be dealing with decreased cognitive function because of it. This is in large part due to cross-modal cortical reorganisation, where the brain struggles to readjust prioritising the senses when one is deprived. If you’re consistently straining to hear what’s going on around you, it can lead to stress and severely decreased concentration.
Fortunately, the NHS offers free hearing tests; just go to your GP and say you’re concerned that your hearing is affecting your daily tasks and they can refer you on for an examination. There are also several online hearing tests you can try, which can be found through a quick Google search and accessed using ear or headphones, though we’d caution against using them as an absolute diagnosis.
GET A NEW JOB
If your concentration levels are only low when you’re at work, then perhaps it’s a lack of stimulation and challenge that’s causing your sense of poor focus. When we’re not sufficiently engaged with a task, this is bound to happen, as your mind will start to wander, and you’ll soon lose focus on what you’re supposed to be doing.
Rest assured that this isn’t a medical issue. Instead, why not consider seeking pastures new? We’ve only got one shot at this thing called life, so why waste it doing a job that doesn’t excite you. Seek fresh challenges and renewed focus, and you may find your vigour returns!
THE BOTTOM LINE
We all get a little bored and distracted from time to time, and that’s only natural. But if your issues with focus and poor concentration are affecting your relationships, work and hobbies negatively, then it could well be time to take action.