Feelings of mental fog, fatigue, and difficulty concentrating are surprisingly common. Surveys have found that over half of adults experience them regularly. If these issues are affecting your day-to-day life or preventing you from fulfilling your goals, then it's time to learn how to improve your mental focus so you can get back to doing what matters most to you. Here are easy ways to do just that.
1. Get enough sleep
Not getting enough sleep impairs memory, focus, and performance. If you're not getting seven to nine hours of quality sleep a night, see a functional medicine physician who can help you look at underlying factors like gut health, inflammation, or hormone imbalances that might be affecting your brain function. Once you get those other factors addressed, taking some vitamins can help improve your ability to recall information from your working memory and engage in tasks involving attention and concentration. Because these vitamins are water-soluble, it's important to take them consistently for the best results.
2. Eliminate distractions
When you're trying to focus on a task, eliminate distractions like TV and social media. It may seem that these things are good distractions, but your brain will respond better if you allow it to fully engage in whatever it is you need to be done. If your work requires long periods of concentration, you might want to find a quiet place where you can get away from all external noise. For example, try working at home or in an empty office. If you have to do your work in a noisy environment, try wearing earplugs or getting headphones with noise-canceling technology. You should also make sure you aren't hungry or tried both of these factors can affect your ability to concentrate. And if all else fails, take a break. Getting up and moving around for just five minutes can help reset your mind and improve your focus when you come back to what you were doing.
3. Listen to brain-stimulating music
Part of improving your mental focus is clearing your mind, but that doesn't mean you need to disengage completely. There are tons of things you can do right in front of a computer that requires no more than a few minutes of your time and will make you sharper as a result. For example, listening to classical music has been shown to boost cognitive function and reduce stress. Likewise, brain-stimulating music or audiobooks can help boost memory and concentration by increasing blood flow to key areas of your brain. So crank up some Beethoven or listen to an audiobook you'll be surprised at how much better you feel after just a few minutes.
4) Eat foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids
Omega-3 Fatty Acids are essential nutrients that help keep your brain sharp. They can be found in foods like salmon, mackerel, tuna, and halibut.
Eating these fish a few times a week can improve your mental focus and concentration while also reducing stress levels. If you don't like fish or are worried about mercury levels in fish, there are other ways to get omega-3 fatty acids into your diet. You can take omega-3 supplements or you can eat plenty of leafy greens like spinach and kale which contain alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 fatty acid that is converted into DHA by our bodies. It's also important to get enough vitamin D from sunlight exposure and/or supplementation. For example, Functional medicine physicians can prescribe vitamin D to patients who might not be getting enough sun. Vitamin D helps with mood, sleep quality, and energy level all of which play an important role in keeping your mind focused on one task at a time.
5. Exercise regularly
Exercise is one of the best ways to increase your focus. A lot of brain fog comes from being sedentary. It is recommended to exercise in a way that improves your strength, endurance, balance, and flexibility so you can build muscle that helps support your joints and back. If possible, choose an activity you love like biking or yoga. If you're new to exercise or it doesn't sound appealing, make sure you start slowly with low-impact exercises like walking or swimming before working up to more challenging activities like cycling or running.
6. Maintain a healthy weight
Research suggests that excess weight is detrimental to mental health. If you're overweight, lose those extra pounds. If you think your weight is fine, make sure you're eating a healthy diet and exercising regularly. Either way, being mindful of what you eat and how much you exercise goes a long way towards improving your mental focus. Your weight may be an indicator of more serious health problems, so consult with a functional medicine physician if you have concerns about your weight or body composition. The professionals will assess your lifestyle, physical activity levels, food intake, and emotional well-being to get at the root causes of any health issues you might be experiencing.
7. Avoid alcohol and caffeine
If you're looking for a shortcut to improved mental clarity, look no further than your beverage choices. Alcohol and caffeine are notorious energy-zappers that create havoc with sleep cycles and upset blood sugar levels and as a result, they can make it much harder to concentrate. To get your brain in high gear, try eliminating alcohol and coffee from your diet. Doing so will help ensure you have plenty of energy when it comes time to focus on work.
Stress and anxiety can directly inhibit mental focus. If you're feeling overwhelmed by all that you have on your plate at work or home, break tasks down into smaller steps and prioritize. Another tactic is enlisting someone else to help keep you on track. Another method of achieving greater mental focus is meditation. Meditation also helps to practice quiet one's thoughts so we can concentrate better on just one thing.
Research shows that multitasking is detrimental to our mental focus. When we're constantly switching between different tasks, we never give ourselves a chance to absorb and digest new information, which hurts our ability to retain and use it later. The bottom line is, We have more difficulty focusing when we engage in multiple activities at once. If you want to improve your mental focus, eliminate distractions. This will help you improve your ability to concentrate and even think more creatively.