2017-05-18 / Neighbors

MAY is... How to maintain mental focus

The technological advancements made in the 21st century have undoubtedly made life easier in many ways, but this golden age of gadgets has not come without some negative side effects. Thanks to the near-constant availability of the Internet and devices like smartphones and tablets, many men and women find it difficult to maintain their focus throughout the day. But while such distractions are never too far away, there are some ways to stay focused and productive.

• Get more exercise. Studies have shown that exercise and improved mental focus are linked. In a 2013 analysis of 19 studies involving more than 500 children, teenagers and young adults, researchers found that exercise sessions between 10 and 40 minutes immediately boosted concentration and mental focus. That improvement might be a result of exercise increasing blood flow to the brain. Men and women who find themselves struggling to focus at work after lunchtime may benefit from incorporating some exercise, whether it’s a brief walk or a more strenuous workout, into their midday routines.

• Perform breathing exercises. Nervousness is an oft-overlooked cause of loss of focus. When nervous, breath can become shallow and restricted, which can have a negative impact on the flow of oxygen to your brain, making it more difficult to concentrate. Professional athletes have long espoused to the virtues of breathing exercises as a means to calming their nerves, and professionals can follow suit. Some simple breathing exercises can help busy professionals multitask more effectively by helping them concentrate on the tasks at hand and overcome the distraction of having so much to do at one time.

• Stay hydrated. A recent study published in the Journal of Nutrition found that dehydration caused loss of focus and a sense of fatigue among women. While the loss of focus was considered insubstantial and the study only examined women, remaining hydrated throughout the day may make it easier to focus on work and other tasks throughout the day.

• Get adequate sleep. One of the best ways to improve focus during the day is to make sure you’re getting enough sleep at night. Sleep deprivation produces a host of negative consequences, not the least of which is its impact on cognitive functioning. Research has shown that sleep deprivation compromises alertness and concentration, making it more difficult to focus at work and tackle tasks that require deep analysis and thought. In addition, a survey from the National Sleep Foundation found that sleepdeprived men and women are less likely to exercise and eat healthy diets, each of which can boost mental acuity.

Focusing in today’s atmosphere of constant distractions can be difficult, but men and women can overcome diversions by employing a handful of successful strategies aimed at improving concentration.

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