Our world is very distracting. We often wear many hats: parent, spouse, child, caregiver, employee, friend, neighbor, and others. Between our endless commitments and the demands of our work, home, and social life, it can be difficult to concentrate on any one task long enough to complete it. That can lead to a mind that’s too busy and thoughts that are scattered, even for individuals who don’t have ADHD. It can occur for anyone with a hectic life or who is struggling with depression or anxiety. Having difficulty focusing and calming down the mind can feel very stressful.
Mindfulness to the rescue. Working on mindfulness in our everyday lives can bring balance throughout the day and can quiet an anxious mind. Finding the peace, positivity, and beauty in any moment can create calm instead of chaos. Mindfulness is about focusing on our intentional abilities. It promotes emotional regulation, so if you are feeling high-strung, short-tempered, or just out of whack, taking a few minutes to practice mindfulness can be extremely beneficial. Through mindfulness and meditation research, neuroscientists have come to recognize the emotional and health benefits of a clear, balanced and centered mind. The concentration benefits of mindfulness training aren’t just behavioral; they’re also physical. Mindfulness actually helps the attention networks in our brains to communicate better and with fewer interruptions than they otherwise would.
Concentration is the key. Though the concept originates in ancient Buddhist, Hindu, and Chinese traditions, mindfulness is less about spirituality and more about concentration—the ability to quiet your mind, focus your attention on the present, and dismiss any distractions. Try these strategies to enhance your concentration skills:
- Stop multitasking. You can do unconscious tasks such as walk and talk at the same time, but once it gets more complicated than that, efficiency goes out the window.
- Get rid of the clutter. Having an organized environment can make you more focused and productive.
- Simplify. Take some time to write down all the things that demand your attention and then prioritize them. Focus on the top priority items and let other, less important things go whenever possible.
- Feed your brain. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. They’re high in the vitamins, antioxidants, and phytonutrients your brain needs. Avoid white sugar and refined carbs which send your blood sugar level on a roller coaster ride.
- Address nutritional deficiencies. The three most common deficiencies that can wreak havoc with brain function are omega-3 fatty acids, vitamin B12, and vitamin D.
- Stay hydrated. Drinking [plenty of water may be the easiest way to improve memory and concentration. Even mild dehydration results in shrinkage of brain tissue and temporary loss of cognitive function.
- Get to know neurofeedback. Essentially, neurofeedback helps the brain get out of its own way. For example, many people who display symptoms ranging from depression to insomnia have brains that have become stuck in a negative cycle. Neurofeedback helps to re-train the brain’s response to stress and other stimuli so it can work more efficiently. It’s a safe, simple method of teaching the brain to concentrate.
Even in small doses, mindfulness can effect impressive changes in how we feel and think. A relaxed mind is a productive mind, and the root of it all lies in our ability to concentrate.
By Andrew Walen, LCSW-C, LICSW, CEDS, Executive Director at The Better Brain Center. If you would like to get in touch with Andrew please call 833-964-8483 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.