Your ability to concentrate is often put to the test by your smartphone and other distractions in your environment! However, it is essential to stay focused to achieve your goals, both professional and personal. Poor concentration can also reveal other disorders such as stress or anxiety, affecting many people. Here are some tips on how to improve your concentration and take back control of your daily life.
What is concentration?
Concentration is your ability to focus and hold your attention on what you want for as long as necessary. When fully concentrated, your mind is focused on one thing at a time. You can even enter a "flow state": the feeling when fully engaged in something where nothing can distract your attention, not even time!
Maintaining your concentration for even a few minutes can be a challenge. Social network notifications, a call from a colleague, working in an open space... All these elements influence your ability to concentrate and can disrupt it. If a few seconds are enough to lose concentration, it often takes several minutes to fully get back into the task you were doing before.
If you experience concentration issues, other symptoms usually come along as well:
- Memory impairments ;
- Trouble thinking calmly;
- The need to be always on the move;
- Difficulty making decisions;
- Feeling out of control;
- Lack of sleep ;
- Feeling out of time;
- Stress, irritability;
- Feeling tired;
- Attention deficit, etc.
Why do we lose focus?
Concentration skills are determined by many factors. Our societies are constantly on the move: everything is fast-paced, the world is changing everyday, and taking a few minutes off in a day often seems like an impossible feat with so many things to do. Here are the main reasons for short attention spans:
One of the most common sources of distraction, and certainly the most significant source of distraction for young people, is screen exposure. With your smartphone always at hand, your mental focus is distracted throughout the day by calls, texts, and app notifications. If you are fully focused on a task and you see your phone's screen turn on, it will be very difficult to resist!
The "FOMO" syndrome for Fear of Missing Out(1) is also very common in today's society and affects many young adults. It involves the fear of missing essential information which, according to the person affected, could have significant social consequences.
Another aspect that has a major impact on concentration skills is stress! Combined with anxiety, stress puts the human brain on continuous alert. At the slightest perceived threat, the brain pauses and turns its attention completely to the stressful element for a more or less long period of time. When stress becomes chronic, it can develop into anxiety and cause difficulties in staying in the present moment, which also affects concentration.
An attention deficit can also simply be caused by your environment. To be fully concentrated, your brain needs calm and comfort. Temperature, noise levels, room brightness, working conditions... All these elements have an impact, however small, on your attention span.
Based on extensive scientific evidence, some diseases are also known to affect concentration and mental performance. One example is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder), which affects nearly 6% of children and 2.5% of adults.
Other neurodegenerative diseases or neurological infections also affect attention span and concentration. Therefore, it is recommended to check with a doctor if you find that your ideal concentration performance is not returning to satisfactory levels without any other risk factors.
Tips to improve concentration
To restore your concentration, here are some tips that can help you:
Create a healthy work environment
"In the workplace, achieving full concentration is essential for getting through the day's tasks. To optimise your concentration capacity, it is recommended to create the healthiest possible working environment. To avoid a stressful start to the day, prepare your day the night before by setting no more than three priorities to complete.
During the day, focus on one thing at a time, and don't hesitate to take breaks at the coffee machine to re-energise! You can also turn off your phone notifications or keep them out of reach to avoid distractions. Finally, invest in noise-cancelling headphones if you need to isolate yourself for better concentration."
Get enough sleep
"Quite often, when you feel anxious, stressed or cannot concentrate properly, a lack of sleep is to blame. The key to finding peace of mind is to get a good night's sleep! If possible, give yourself a short 20-minute nap when you feel the need. You can also do a short meditation session at your desk to refocus. Try it, it works!
In the evening, make sure you have a relaxing routine and limit screens at least 1.5 hours before bedtime to ensure you fall asleep and stay in shape. Exercising is also recommended as a stress reliever, as long as it is done at least two hours before bedtime. "
Doing simple exercises to train your brain
"Concentration exercises can help restore your cognitive functions. You can:
- Do targeted breathing exercises;
- Take a few minutes to do stress-relieving exercises
- Listen to background music to increase your attention;
- Playing memory and strategy games to keep your brain healthy;
- Try mental visualization exercises before working on a task, etc."
Food supplements to improve concentration
Food supplements can be used to support a balanced diet rich in essential fatty acids, vitamins and minerals to help with a lack of concentration. When taken over a period of a few weeks to a few months, they will help you to take back control of your daily life and keep your energy levels up.
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