Finding ways to improve your focus, concentration and keep your brain sharp at any age has never been more important.
In today's disruptive world, we’re constantly surrounded by gadgets and tasks that require our immediate attention.
So much so, many people struggle to remain focused on ONE task or project for any more than 10 to 15 minutes at a time!
When you lose your ability to concentrate, you lose one of life's most fundamental skills for making ongoing progress. And we all know that ultimately, progress equals happiness and fulfilment which is important at any age.
Here we share the main causes of poor concentration and reveal key ways you can improve your focus and keep your brain sharp even as you age. When you embrace these steps, it can help you feel less stressed and anxious, whilst helping you to become more productive and efficient throughout your life time.
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.
1. Get Quality Sleep
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 and your pre-bedtime sleep routine needs to be improved. By making 8 hours sleep a priority for your health and wellness it will help you to relax, reset and recuperate which is crucial for staying sharp at any age.
2. Regular Exercise
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 boost your ability to learn and grow mentally.
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 to work off stress, which could be a big factor in lowering your ability to focus or concentrate for prolonged periods.
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 and consistently each week.
As a bare minimum, you should aim to do some form of low impact exercise for for 30-45 minutes each day such as walking, swimming, cycling or yoga. Also, whenever you can, exercise in the fresh air outdoors and you'll help to soothe the senses and bring fresh oxygen into your body and brain which is vital for boosting your ability to focus and concentrate.
If you want to increase your overall fitness and strength, add 2-3 sessions per week of additional more rigorous forms of movement, such as weight training, interval training, hiking or pilates.
Not only will these activities help to strengthen your body, but will also help clear mental fog and boost your mental strength, which has a big impact on your ability to concentrate and focus.
3. Boost Your Learning
No matter your age, you should never stop learning.
Learning new things helps stimulate your brain and expands your mind, which is a key to staying sharp at any age.
Whether you listen to an educational podcast, take an online course online, learn a new language, learn an instrument or do puzzles in the evening before you go to bed, there are plenty of ways to stimulate your brain and to keep learning.
An important tip is to alternate between different methods of learning, such as auditory, visual and reading to activate the various senses and channels of the brain. This will help keep your mind constantly active and help to improve your concentration for every day important projects and tasks.
4. Eat A Clean Diet
A poor diet can wreak havoc on your ability to concentrate, but the good news is switching to a cleaner diet is relatively easy to do when you adopt more conscious eating habits.
The right nutrition can improve your brain function significantly.
First, cut out heavily processed and refined foods, which can devastate your gut health and elevate your insulin levels, causing you to become irritable and to become very susceptible to fatigue and mental fog.
A poor diet can cause you to feel constantly sluggish and this will lead to lower focus and concentration over time, particularly the older you get.
Be sure to add an abundance of seasonal, locally sourced, fresh fruits, vegetables, raw nuts, seeds and whole grains into your diet every single week.
In addition, be sure to include plenty of brain healthy 'good' fats such as extra virgin olive oil, cold-pressed macadamia oil, flax seed oil, walnut oil and avocados.
All of these foods are super rich in vital omega fatty acids, vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that fuel the body and brain.
As an ultra convenient and perfect any time snack food, Pulse Sacred Meal is a wonderful 'brain food' as well due to the high concentration of raw nuts and seeds inside each pack.
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.
Now, if you do a lot of physical activity or perspire a lot in your daily work, 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.
5. Practice Daily Meditation
Daily 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. If you don't know how to meditate or need some guidance, try an app such as 'Calm', which can give you easy access on your smart phone to a daily 10 minute guided meditation.
6. Peppermint Essential Oil
Essential oils in general can be a very effective tool for easing everything from nausea to headaches and anything in between.
Peppermint oil in particular, is known to be one of the most potent essential oils for boosting concentration and clearing the mind.
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, as an aid to clear your mind before you get ready for an important meeting, or as an activation tool before exercise to boost your motivation, 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, 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.
Learn more in our blog The Amazing Benefits & Healing Powers of Peppermint Essential Oil.
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 our blog 6 Caffeine Alternatives to Boost Your Energy.
The Main Takeaway
Your ability to focus and concentrate is an important factor when it comes to ongoing learning, growth and making progress in your life. For this reason, it's important to practice basic steps that support your brain health regularly.
By improving simple areas like your diet and exercise routine, you'll have a positive impact, not only on your physicality, but also your ability to concentrate, complete important projects, tasks and to remain creative and fulfilled.
Remember, a healthy brain is something we take for granted when we're young. But as we age, it's something we should pay extra special attention to ensure ongoing mind and body wellness. By embracing the steps shared with you here, you'll go a long way to supporting your brain health and your ability to maintain your concentration and focus for life.
Tolman Self Care.