With the hectic and fractured pace of modern society, maintaining focus can be a constant struggle. We’re bombarded by information from every direction, our work lives bleed into our free time, and our online and offline lives blur in complex ways, requiring us to constantly redirect our attention and block out distractions.
At the same time, we have busier lives, more work and longer hours, which means having to focus more in an environment that makes it much harder.
If you want to improve your focus and concentration, here are some natural remedies that may help.
Natural Remedies for Focus and Concentration
Focus is a complex phenomenon. Some of the things that can affect your ability to focus include diet, medications, stress, sleeplessness, lack of interest, pain, aging and health conditions like ADHD and depression.
Luckily, research finds that focus can be improved naturally by making certain lifestyle ch
anges and using holistic methods.
1. Limit Screen Time
One of the simplest ways to naturally increase your focus is by tracking and limiting your screen time. Over-using your screen can harm your ability to focus. Pay attention to how you use your devices for a few days. How often do you check your phone? Are you frequently procrastinating online?
The right amount of screen time can vary tremendously for adults. Someone who works online, for example, will obviously need to spend more screen time than someone who doesn’t. However, if you’re exhibiting compulsive behavior (e.g. checking the phone every five minutes), or if your devices are getting in the way of socializing, exercising and other healthy activities, it’s a good sign you should cut back.
Set a Modest Goal for Yourself
If you check your phone all day, try leaving it in a different room or turning it off for an hour every day. For example, if you put off work by scrolling through your social media feed at work, try keeping it off for the first hour of your workday.
A good technique is to cut one hour off your daily screen time and see how to limit yourself to an hour per day of recreational screen time for two weeks, and observe how it affects your mood, productivity and focus. Then you can add more time bit by bit, stopping if it starts to negatively affect your focus. If limiting yourself to one hour seems unrealistic, try just cutting an hour off your current screen time.
2. Natural Remedies for Focus: Exercise Boosts Concentration
Exercise improves energy and focus, boosts your energy, and helps you resist distraction. The Department of Health and Human Services recommends at least 150-300 weekly minutes of moderate aerobic exercise or half that amount of high-intensity exercise. That means twenty minutes to half an hour of exercise per day can yield significant benefits.
If that seems like too much, start where you can. Walk your kids to school once or twice per week instead of driving them. Do 20 jumping jacks before you start working, or when you take a break. Even a few extra minutes of exercise can help you get your mind on the task.
3. Sleep and Diet
Healthy eating and sleeping habits are also good natural remedies for focus and concentration. Avoid skipping meals (breakfast in particular) and eat a balanced diet. Some healthy foods for focus include:
- Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids, such as flaxseed, hemp seed, hemp protein powder, and oily fish.
- Antioxidant-rich food such as beans, leafy greens, berries, dark chocolate, and green tea.
- Extracts and herbs to improve focus: ginkgo supplements, ginseng, rosemary, and curcumin (extracted from turmeric) all show evidence of improving focus or brain function.
4. Meditate for Five Minutes Daily
Finally, give meditation a try. Meditation can help you recover more quickly from distractions and helps you control stress. It has been shown to be particularly effective for people suffering from ADHD.
How to Meditate
Meditation retrains your mind. Start by meditating for just a few minutes every day.
- Set up a room or a corner in your house for your daily meditation. It should be as free from distractions as possible, with a comfortable seat or meditation pillow for you to sit on.
- Now, pick an object to focus on. What it is doesn’t matter that much — it can be a candle, a picture of a geometric shape, a religious icon or an inspiring image that speaks to you. Sit down at the same time every day, and concentrate on it. When distracting thoughts pass through your mind, acknowledge them and return to your focus. As you get better at meditating, try closing your eyes and keeping the image in your mind. Over time, your meditation will help you keep your mind on whatever task you have to complete.
One great meditation technique is to simply focus on one thing for five minutes. Your focus can be virtually anything — a candle, a geometrical shape on the wall, or your own breath. when you find your thoughts drifting, acknowledge the disruptive thoughts, let them go, and refocus on your object. Over time, you’ll be able to maintain focus for longer and attempt more advanced meditations.