Whether at work, studying, or making progress on a passion project, we all need a little help getting focused sometimes. Here are some healthy habits to improve your concentration when you start to feel your focus slipping.
Set a Caffeine Limit
Often when people are having a hard time focusing, they feel tired and foggy, which leads to reaching for cup after cup of coffee. Alas, the added caffeine can actually make it harder to concentrate. While a small amount of caffeine may help you focus better on the task at hand, too much can leave you feeling restless, anxious, and even less able to concentrate than before. 1 Set a caffeine limit for yourself, such as one cup of coffee with breakfast, and stick to it. One study shows that the phytochemicals found in matcha promote relaxation, so matcha may be a good source of caffeine for those who wish to boost focus but avoid feeling jittery. 2
Snack Throughout the Day
It is important to make sure that you eat enough throughout the day if you want to maintain a sustained level of focus. Be sure that you do not skip meals and eat nutritious snacks throughout the day. Aim for a balance of healthy fats, complex carbohydrates, and lean proteins.
Some of the best foods for focus include:
- Fatty, wild-caught fish
- Nuts 3
Often, the feeling of being unfocused is due to mind wandering and not being able to keep your thoughts on the present moment. Regular mindfulness practice makes it easier to bring your thoughts back to the present when they begin to wander. Studies show that mindfulness practice increases gray matter density in the brain and can result in feeling sharper and more focused. 4 Try these easy mindfulness exercises.
Get at Least 7 Hours of Sleep
If you are not getting enough sleep on a regular basis, you will likely find yourself zoning out and having trouble concentrating on what you are trying to get done. Adults over the age of 18 require at least 7 hours of sleep, according to the CDC. 5 Lack of sleep is associated with higher risk for a number of health issues, including cognitive difficulties and memory loss, so if you want your brain to be at its sharpest during the waking hours, make sleep a priority. 6 If you have trouble sleeping, work on implementing a consistent evening routine and check out our sleep hygiene tips.
Don’t be afraid to take a quick exercise break. Movement can help shake off fatigue and the fuzzy brain feeling. Just a minute or two can do the trick. Some options include 10-20 squats, a quick walk around the block or house, some sit-ups, high knees or jumping jacks. Activity can match your fitness level and experience.
Yoga breathing techniques can be helpful in breaking a fatigue cycle. They work to increase oxygenation and can leave some feeling energized. A good place to start is diaphragmatic breathing. As you inhale, focus on your diaphragm pressing down and your abdomen expanding. As you exhale, focus on relaxing your diaphragm.
If you have trouble focusing on a regular basis and want more help, speak to a naturopathic doctor. They can help you pinpoint the cause and work with you to develop a health plan designed to boost your focus.