7 Ways to Improve Concentration & Keep Your Brain Sharp at Any Age
Finding ways to improve concentration and keep your brain sharp has never been more important.
We’re constantly surrounded by gadgets and tasks that require our immediate attention. If you try to think of the last time you focused on something for an hour straight and uninterrupted, you might find it difficult.
Letting our attention and focus be pulled constantly isn’t doing our brains any favours. In fact, it’s worsening your overall ability to concentrate, which will become even more pronounced as you get older.
In order to prevent premature mental decline, try these seven ways to improve concentration and keep your brain sharp. You may also find you feel less stressed and anxious, while becoming more productive and efficient.
1. Causes of Poor Concentration
It’s completely natural for your concentration to come and go based on what you’re doing and your interest level, but when you’re having trouble sustaining focus and concentration on anything or for any period of time, it’s a sign that something is wrong.
There are several factors that can affect your overall concentration. They include:
- Poor sleep
- Head or brain injury
- Hormonal changes
- Poor diet
In order to improve our concentration, it’s important to know why it’s being affected and to improve the causes that we can control like diet and sleep. Identifying the cause of your poor concentration is the first step to improving it.
While you certainly can’t stop a cause like ageing, you can definitely work to keep your brain sharp as you get older to ensure you’re able to focus and concentrate at any age. Proactivity helps too: by starting young and working on your memory and concentration, you’ll find it easier to maintain as you get older.
The importance of good, regular sleep can’t be understated. Sleep is your brain and body’s chance to reset each day and without it, you’ll quickly start to fall apart. Your memory, focus and concentration will be affected very quickly without sleep. Just one bad night of sleep can leave you irritable, foggy, and ensure that any task that needs your concentration that day gets done slowly or poorly.
If you’ve been experiencing issues with concentration, start by looking at your sleep habits. Do you regularly get less than eight hours of sleep per night? Do you wake up regularly throughout the night and find it tough to fall back asleep? These are signs your sleep hygiene needs to be improved.
It certainly becomes more difficult to sleep as we get older, but making it a priority for your health and wellness is critical to staying sharp at any age.
It might surprise you to know that exercise can improve your concentration. Regularly working up a sweat can not only improve your overall concentration but also better your learning skills. It works by promoting oxygen flow to the brain, which helps you think more clearly, as well as building new brain cells. Exercise also helps you work off stress, which could be preventing you from concentrating or focusing.
If you’re older, you shouldn’t shy away from exercise either. It can actually help prevent age-related memory loss, so choose your favourite form of exercise and do it (safely) as often as possible.
As a bare minimum, you should walk for 30-45 minutes outside in fresh air every single day to soothe the senses and bring fresh oxygen into your body and brain.
If you can add 2-3 sessions per week of additional more rigorous forms of movement, not only will it strengthen your body, but will help to clear mental fog and invigorate your mindset and level of concentration and focus.
4. Regular Learning
No matter your age, you should make constant learning a priority. Learning new things helps your brain stay sharp and create more connections. Whether you take a new course online, learn a new language, or do puzzles every evening, there are plenty of ways to keep learning.
Alternate between different methods of learning, such as auditory, visual, reading, puzzles, games, etc. to keep your brain guessing. Chess, sudoku, word searches, and more are fun games that keep your mind active and help improve your concentration.
5. Wholefoods & Water
A poor diet could be wreaking havoc on your concentration and memory, but the good news is that it's relatively easy to fix. The right nutrition can improve your brain function significantly.
First, cut out heavily processed and refined foods, which can wreak havoc on your gut health and elevate insulin levels, causing you to crash and burn. This has the effect of making you feel sluggish, particularly soon after a meal which will also cause you to lose concentration.
Be sure to add an abundance of fresh fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, legumes and whole grains into your diet, as well as plenty of healthy plant oils like olive oil, macadamia oil, flax and avocados.
All of these foods are super rich in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, fibre and good fats - all of which are tailor made to support optimum brain function and concentration.
As an ultra convenient and perfect every day snack food, Pulse Sacred Meal is a great way to nourish and boost your brain also.
Lastly, be sure to drink at least 2 litres of clean water every single day. Your brain is comprised of about 80% water and the weight of the brain in water content is approximately 2 litres, which should be replenished every 24 hours.
If you're suffering from any kind of brain fog or regular lapses in concentration, one of the first things to do is to drink more water. For all round optimum brain and body function, the ideal amount of water consumption per day is 1 litre of water per 22 kilos of your body weight. However, if you're not used to drinking the right amount of water, 2 litres per day is a good place to start.
Regular meditation can be incredibly powerful for your mind.
The simple practice of clearing your head, removing the clutter and being present, for even just a few minutes per day, creates amazing benefits that carry over into all aspects of your life.
It will help you to be more self aware and to relieve stress, anxiety and to prioritise important tasks and projects. It is also a very restorative practice to maintain healthy mind function as you age.
Just 5-10 minutes a day of meditation can make a significant difference.
7. Peppermint Essential Oil
Essential oils are your secret weapon for everything from nausea to headaches, and anything in between.
Peppermint oil in particular is said to aid concentration and clarify the mind, clearing away brain fog and stimulating brain function.
The word Pepper Mint is derived from two original words; Pepper meaning "Lively" and Mint meaning, "Mental". Whether it's first thing in the morning to help you wake up, before exercise to boost your motivation, or to help you clear your mind before an important conference call or task where you need to be sharp, Peppermint oil is a true saviour.
Simply add 1-2 drops into the palms of your hands and gently rub together. Then, cup your hands over your nose (be careful not to get the peppermint near your eyes) and deeply inhale and then exhale away from your hands. Repeat this 3-5 times, then rub any residue gently onto the back of your neck.
You can also diffuse Peppermint oil in a room to help purify and activate the air.
More Tips to Improve Concentration:
- Spend some time every day outside in nature to soak up some fresh air and sunshine
- Keep plants near your desk and workspace to improve concentration and productivity, as well as clean the air
- Take regular breaks. Your brain needs rest in order to concentrate more fully
- Find a stimulus that is not electronic to rest your mind in between projects or tasks
- If you drink coffee, enjoy it only before lunch time and choose organic with minimal additives whenever you can. Naturally brewed coffee is a known brain stimulant which has additional body health benefits, provided you don't over do it and enjoy it as nature intended.
Learn more in 6 Caffeine Alternatives to Boost Your Energy.
As an extra suggestion, try this homemade, natural concentration booster beverage on for size, if you regularly suffer from brain fog:
Dynamic Concentration Drink Recipe
- 2 tbsp Ginkgo Biloba
- 1 cup Strawberries
- 2 cups Grapes
- 1 Apple
- 2 tbsp Ginseng Powder
- Pure Water
Blend these malic acid fruits together for an energising, mind-expanding experience. They will protect your concentration from free radicals interference. Juice the fruits in any order and stir in the ginseng & ginkgo in at the end, mix and drink.
The Main Takeaway
The body and brain are inextricably linked. So by improving simple areas like diet and exercise, you'll have a positive impact, not only on your physicality, but your ability to be creative and to concentrate and focus.
Likewise, by feeding your mind positive thoughts and stimulus, it effects how you feel physically and how you feel emotionally, ultimately controls many of the habits that rule your life.
A healthy brain is something we take for granted when we're young. But as we age, it something we should pay extra special attention to ensure ongoing mind and body wellness.
Tolman Self Care.