Concentration and focus are vital in just about everyone’s lives in one way or another. Many people find it hard to focus or concentrate for long periods of time, or sometimes to even get started. The elusive secret to endless focus and concentration is a myth, but there are certain ways you can increase your focus and concentration levels.
First though, what is concentration? It is taking your mind off many things and putting it on one thing at a time. Let's examine now what can help you to boost your concentration.
Boost Your Concentration With Yoga and Meditation
Techniques such as yoga and meditation have been shown to help with an individuals concentration as well as focus the mind.
Yoga has proven to stave off depression and reduce anxiety. Depression and anxiety are linked to low levels of GABA (gamma-Aminobutyric acid). Just 12 weeks of yoga practice can increase GABA levels in the thalamus region of the brain compared to equivalent time spent in metabolically matched walking exercises.
In a study of 30 female college students, Hatha yoga was found to be more effective on tests of working memory than aerobic exercise. Students participated in 20 minutes of meditation and deep breathing and also in 20 minutes of aerobic exercise (walking or jogging on a treadmill). Testing was conducted after each type of exercise session.
"The quality of our life depends on the quality of our mind," writes Sri Sri Ravi Shankar.
Psychology Today writes that meditation is turning your attention away from distracting thoughts and focusing on the present moment.
Italian neuroscientist Giuseppe Pagnoni, found that meditation not only changes brain patterns, but it also confers advantages in mental focus that may improve cognitive performance.
Boost Concentration With Your Diet
Just as the body needs fuel, so does the brain. If you typically live on junk and processed food and find yourself struggling with focus and concentration, then consider eating more healthy whole foods.
A diet that includes plenty of fruits and vegetables (healthy carbohydrate sources), protein and healthy fats can help improve and maintain concentration.
Nutritional deficiencies like magnesium, vitamin B-12, omega-3, and amino acids can cause significant brain impairment such as lack of concentration, short-term memory loss, attention deficit, and lack of focus.
The following nutritional tips can help boost your brain health, including concentration and foucus.
Fresh Cold Water Fish
Eating fish also has anti-inflammatory properties, which helps to protect brain cells.
If you’re not a fan of seafood, consider non-fish sources of omega-3 fatty acids such as walnuts, fresh ground flaxseed, flaxseed oil, winter squash, kidney and pinto beans, spinach, broccoli, and pumpkin seeds,
Nuts are high in vitamin B-6, which has been scientifically shown to be beneficial to our cognitive processes. Specifically, vitamin B-6 directly affects our memory and concentration levels, so increasing our level of B-6 intake can affect our focus and concentration levels.
Research has also suggested that apart from improving our focus and concentration, vitamin B-6 may have an important role in protecting us from diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Dementia.
Avocados contain oleic acid, a fatty acid that is a major component of myelin, a fatty material that protects nerve cells and supports the flow of nerve signals throughout the body.
Bananas are a simple and easy snack to consume, even for those people on the go. Studies have shown that students who consume bananas before an exam performed much better than those who did not. Bananas contain high levels of potassium and magnesium, essential brain power chemicals.
Potassium and magnesium both help to keep your brain and nerve cells in top working order. Combine this with other foods listed above and you should never be short of focus or concentration again.
They help to maintain sufficient blood flow to the brain, which is essential to keep the brain functioning properly. Without adequate blood flow, the brain will struggle to focus.
Moreover, berries are an anti-inflammatory food. And inflammation of the brain can cause poor concentration and focus.
Leafy greens like kale, spinach, romaine, collards and Swiss chard are all some of the best foods for mental focus and concentration. Greens are packed with magnesium, iron, B vitamins, protein, fiber, and chlorophyll.
Research has shown that dark chocolate can increase serotonin and endorphin levels, both of which can help our brain to function better.
Moreover, dark chocolate also contains anti-oxidants and a number of important vitamins and minerals such as potassium and magnesium.
Poor memory and lack of focus can be due to a lack of magnesium.
Such a simple idea, but water is incredibly effective. A huge percentage of our bodies are made up of water so it is perhaps no wonder that we can struggle to function if we do not consume an adequate amount of water.
Dehydration can occur relatively quickly and one of the first parts to be affected is the brain. Without adequate water, it can be hard to think clearly and mental fatigue can quickly set in.
How much water should you drink in a day? According to some, the rule of thumb is 8 to 12 eight ounce glasses a day. Others say drink only when you are thirsty. Or drink water according to how much you weigh.
Here is an example for the latter:
Multiply your weight by 2/3 to determine how much water to drink daily. For example, if you weighed 175 pounds you would multiple that by 2/3, that would equal 117 ounces of water every day.
When you feel like you need a caffeine hit, most people reach for the coffee. By the time, you add sugar and milk, the calories can soon add up and there may not be so much of a positive effect. As an alternative, opt for the green tea instead.
Not only is it better for your waistline, but it contains caffeine, which will help with your focus and concentration. In addition, green tea is rich in polyphenols, powerful antioxidants that protect against free radicals that can damage brain cells.
Other foods that promote concentration and focus include: olive oil, blueberries, beets, broccoli, oats and eggs.