You might wish you had more focus if you have ever struggled to complete a difficult task at work, study for an exam, or worked on a complicated project.
Concentration is the mental effort that you put into whatever you are learning or working on. Sometimes it’s confused with attention span. However, attention span is the amount of time that you can focus on one thing at a time.
Factors that influence concentration
There are many reasons attention span and concentration may vary. Some people have difficulty focusing and ignoring distractions. Concentration can be affected by age and sleep deprivation.
Memory loss can lead to memory loss. Most people forget more things as they get older. Concussion and other brain injuries such as head or brain traumas can affect concentration.
When you try to focus but can’t, it’s easy for frustration to set in. This can cause stress and irritation which can make it difficult to focus on the important things.
Continue reading if this sounds familiar. We will be discussing research-backed techniques to improve concentration. We will also discuss conditions that may affect concentration, and what steps you can take if this doesn’t work.
You can improve your concentration by playing certain games. Try:
- crossword puzzles
- Jigsaw puzzles
- Word searches and scrambles
- Memory games
A 2015 study by Trusted Source found that spending 15 minutes per day and 5 days per week on braintraining activities can make a huge impact on concentration.
Brain training games can help you improve your working and short-term memory as well as your problem-solving and processing skills.
Brain training games can be especially beneficial for seniors, as memory and concentration tend to decline with age.
Research by 2014Trusted source looked at 2,832 older people and followed them up after 10 years. Cognitive training sessions were offered to older adults for between 10-14 sessions. Participants saw improvements in their cognition, memory, processing, and other skills.
The majority of participants in the study reported that they were able to complete daily activities after 10 years.
Brain games are not the only game that can improve concentration. Recent research suggests that video games may be a good way to improve concentration.
An 2018 study that looked at 29 people discovered evidence to show that gaming for an hour could improve visual selective attention. VSA is your ability to focus on one task and ignore all distractions.
The study’s small size meant that the results are not conclusive. It was also not possible to determine the duration of this increase in VSA.
Researchers recommend that future research be conducted to determine if video games can increase brain activity and concentration.
A 2017 reviewTrusted Source reviewed 100 studies that examined the impact video games can have on cognitive function. According to the review, video games can lead to brain changes such as increased focus and attention.
The review was limited in that it covered a wide range of topics including violent video games and video game addiction. These findings could be supported by studies that specifically focus on the benefits of video gaming.
Concentration and other cognitive functions such as attention and memory can be easily affected by sleep deprivation.
You may only experience occasional sleep deprivation occasionally. However, a lack of sleep regularly can impact your mood and work performance.
Too much sleep can cause fatigue and slow down your ability to drive, as well as other daily tasks.
Sometimes it can be difficult to get enough rest due to a demanding schedule or health problems. It is important to get at least the recommended amount of sleep every night.
Experts recommend that adults get 7 to 8 hours sleep every night.
You can get better sleep if you work hard. A few quick tips:
- Turn off the TV an hour before you go to bed.
- Your room should be kept at a cool, comfortable temperature.
- Relax before you go to bed by listening to soft music, taking a hot bath or reading a book.
- Every day, get up and go to bed at the same time every day, even weekends.
- Regular exercise is important, but avoid doing a lot of work right before bed.
has more information on healthy sleeping habits.
Regular exercise can lead to increased concentration, which is one of the many benefits. Exercise benefits everyone. An 2018 study that examined 116 fifth-graders discovered evidence that daily exercise could improve concentration and attention. This was after only four weeks.
Another research Trusted source Looking at older adults, it is clear that a year of moderate aerobic exercise can stop or reverse the effects of brain atrophy.
Do whatever you can
Aerobic exercise is a good idea, but it is better to do what you can than nothing. You may choose to exercise more or less depending on your goals and fitness.
Sometimes, it’s just not possible to exercise as much as you should, especially if your mental or physical health is compromised.
You don’t have to workout every day if you are busy or don’t want to go to a gym. Instead, find fun ways to fit it in during the day. If you get your heart rate up, you’re exercising. Ask yourself:
- Are you able to walk your children to school?
- Do you have the time to get up early every morning and run around your neighborhood for a quick run?
- Is it possible to split your weekly grocery shopping trip into three or four trips on foot or by bike?
- Do you prefer to walk to the coffee shop than drive?
Do your best to exercise before you need it.
You can increase your concentration naturally by getting outside every day, even if it’s only for 15 to 20 minutes. A short walk in a park might be a good idea. You can also benefit from sitting in your backyard or garden. Any environment can have benefits.
The positive effects of natural environments are being supported by increasing scientific evidence. According to 2014TrustedSource, research has shown that plants can be used in offices to improve concentration, productivity, workplace satisfaction, and air quality.
You can add a few plants to your home or workspace for many benefits. If you don’t have the green thumb, succulents are great options for low-maintenance plants.
Natural environments are also beneficial for children. Research published in 2017TrustedSource followed more than 1,000 children, from birth through age 7. The study was intended to examine how children’s attention might be affected by long-term exposure to greenery and trees in their neighborhood or at home.
Study results showed that natural environments may be beneficial to brain development, and may even improve attention in children.
Children with ADHD may find nature even more beneficial. StudyTrusted Source in 2009 that examined 17 ADHD children found that 20 minutes in the park can improve concentration than a walk the same distance in an urban environment.
Multiple benefits can be derived from mindfulness and meditation. One of these benefits is improved concentration.
An 2011 reviewTrusted source of 23 studies showed evidence that mindfulness training that emphasizes focus and attention could increase focus and attention. Mindfulness may also help improve memory, and other cognitive abilities.
Meditation is more than just sitting still with your eyes closed. Yoga and deep breathing are just a few of the many activities that can help you meditate.
This list will help you get started if meditation has not worked for you.
How can you increase your concentration by taking a break from homework or work? Although it might sound counterintuitive, experts agree that this idea works.
Imagine this: After spending a few hours working on the same project, your attention suddenly wanders. Despite it being difficult to focus on the task at hand, you keep working and pushing yourself to finish. Your inability to focus makes you anxious and stressed about not being able to complete your work on time.
You’ve likely been there before. Take a mental break next time you feel this. You can refresh yourself with a refreshing drink or a nutritious snack, go for a walk or get some sunlight .
Don’t be surprised to feel more motivated, focused, and creative when you return to work. These functions can be boosted by taking breaks.
Turning on music while studying or working may help increase your concentration .
According to research, even if music is not your favorite way to work, you can use nature sounds or white noises to reduce background sounds to improve concentration.
It can have a significant impact on how you feel about music. Experts agree that classical music, especially baroque music, and nature sounds can help you focus.
Ambient or electronic music can be a good alternative to classical music. You can keep the music at a low volume or as background noise to avoid being distracted.
Avoid choosing music that you don’t like or dislike, as they can distract you.
Cognitive functions such as memory and concentration can be affected by the foods you eat. Avoid processed foods, sugary foods, and greasy or fatty food. These foods can help increase concentration.
- Fatty fish (think salmon or trout)
- Eggs (both yolk and white)
This list has more information about brain foods.
Concentration can be improved by staying hydrated. Even mild dehydration can affect your ability to concentrate and remember information.
Breakfast can boost your focus and help you get up in the morning. You should choose a meal with low added sugars, high protein, and fiber. Breakfast options include oatmeal, whole-grain toast with egg, and plain yogurt with fruit.
You don’t have to consume caffeine if you choose to do so. However, researchTrustedSource suggests that caffeine may benefit your attention and focus.
Consider a cup coffee, or green Tea if you feel your concentration is starting to decline. If you don’t like caffeinated beverages, dark chocolate (70 percent cacao or more) can provide similar benefits.
A 2017 studyTrusted source showed evidence that matcha’s phytochemicals, which are naturally found in green teas, can improve cognitive function and promote relaxation. Matcha might be a good choice if you are feeling jittery from coffee.
Supplements may promote improved concentration and brain function.
Before you try any supplements, it is important to consult your doctor. Your doctor will discuss the potential benefits and risks of supplements and recommend the best one for you.
You can often get all the vitamins you require by simply adding certain foods to your daily diet. Supplements are sometimes a good option to help you reach your daily vitamin intake goals.
These supplements can help increase concentration and improve brain health.
- vitamin K
- Omega-3 fatty acids
- guarana seed extract
Children who struggle to focus often benefit from concentration workouts. This mental workout requires that you devote your attention for a certain amount of time to an activity.
These are some of the activities you can try:
- For 15 minutes, draw or doodle.
- Spend some time tossing a ball or balloon with someone else.
- You can set a timer to go off for between 3 and 5 minutes. You should blink as little as you can.
- Do not eat a hard candy or lollipop until it is gone. Pay attention to the taste, how it feels on your tongue and how long it takes you to finish eating it.
Ask your child to draw or write a brief summary of how they felt after completing each activity. Young children may use words to express their emotions.
It can be helpful for them to talk about the areas where they lost focus and how they refocused.
Adults can also benefit from a concentration exercise, so give it a shot.
Things around you can cause trouble with concentration. You may be distracted by your family, roommates, or coworkers.
It is also possible that concentration problems can be related to underlying mental and physical conditions. These are some of the most common:
- ADHD (attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder) can create learning and memory challenges for both children and adults. This condition is often characterized by inattention, hyperactivity, or impulsivity. Treatment can help improve ADHD symptoms.
- Cognitive dysfunction or impairment can affect concentration, memory, learning, and other aspects of cognitive functioning. These problems can be caused by brain injuries or brain disorders, as well as developmental delays and disabilities.
- Untreated mental illnesslike depression and anxiety are mainly caused by changes in mood. However, they can also cause difficulties with focus, concentration, learning, and recalling new information. Stress can make it difficult to focus on school or work, and even harder for those with chronic conditions.
- Memory and concentration can be affected by concussions or other head injuries. While this is typically temporary, problems with concentration may persist after a head injury has healed.
- Farsightedness, other vision problemsmay affect attention and concentration. You may need to have your eyes examined if you or your child find it difficult to focus and suffer from headaches or squinting.
These tips for improving concentration may not be enough. Consider consulting a professional. Even if you don’t know it, there could be something more serious than simple distractions that are affecting your ability focus.
Talking to a therapist can be a good place to start, especially if your mood has changed or you are feeling stressed. Sometimes, a professional can help you recognize these signs.
Adults with ADHD are often unable to concentrate or focus for long periods of attention. This condition can be diagnosed by a mental health professional who will help you start treatment.
Once you are diagnosed, therapy, medication and other treatments can be used to improve your symptoms.
While some methods may be effective in improving concentration, others might not work for you. Try a variety of approaches to improve your concentration and see what works best.
Although experts continue to debate the merits of brain training, they do not dispute its effectiveness. However, evidence shows that most of these tips can at least slightly improve concentration.
These tips won’t cause concentration problems or other harm so you shouldn’t be worried about them.
If you are really struggling, talk to your doctor. It’s possible that there is something else going on.