How to Improve Focus: School, Sports & Work
Does how you live and the choices you make about food, exercise and rest really affect how well you can focus? Did you know that the ability to focus as a child is a more powerful indicator of success later in life than a child's IQ? Would you like your child to be able to focus more in school? How about finishing a project you started at work or home without getting distracted? This blog will provide research and facts related to improving your ability to focus.
Eat Good Fat, Protein and Unprocessed Foods
Finding the right fats in your diet has a direct affect on your ability to focus. Omega 3 fatty acids from fish with enough EPA and DHA, are critical for optimal brain function and focus. The World Health Organization recommends between 150 to 250 mg of EPA and DHA daily. Grass fed beef, wild fish, organic chicken, lamb, turkey and other kinds of meat provide protein and healthy fat. The amino acids in protein build important brain chemicals necessary for focus. Avocado, nuts and nut butters, seeds and fresh fruits and vegetables all give the brain the nutrition it needs to focus. Processed foods lead to blood sugar fluctuation that impairs the ability to focus. Vitamins like B vitamins and vitamin D3 along with minerals including iron feed the brain what it needs for concentration. Any kind of food deprivation diet can have negative affects on the brain. Instead of denying the body food, choosing healthy options and getting to the gym or playing a sport is a far better alternative.
Get to Bed On Time
Making sure you allow your body to rest will play a big role in your ability to focus. The National Sleep Foundation stipulates that children age 6 - 13 need between 9 and 11 hours of sleep while older children age 14 - 17 need 9 to 10 hours. The National Institutes of Health offers insight in a study on sleep deprivation showing it correlates to a decreased ability to focus.
Exercise Even For Brief Periods of Time
According to University of Illinois professor Charles Hillman and colleagues, an exercise study's findings "demonstrate a causal effect of a physical program on executive control, and provide support for physical activity for improving childhood cognition and brain health."
In a study done at the University of British Columbia, researchers discovered that rigorous exercise measurably increased the size of the hippocampus, the brain area involved in verbal memory and learning.
Saying Goodbye to Stress
Taking a few minutes each day to engage in some kind of stress reduction activity can help redirect your brain to a higher level of focus. Whether its meditating, praying, going outside barefoot or breathing in some essential oils, taking your mind off of your daily routine and work in the form of a well deserved break can mean the difference in how well you can concentrate.
Have you ever noticed you are taking short, shallow breaths or maybe even holding your breath when you are trying to concentrate or accomplish something? Make sure you are taking deep enough breaths to get adequate oxygen to your cells. Taking a few minutes each day to focus on your breathing can give you increased ability to focus on your work. If you would like additional information on breathing, refer to our Breathe Deeply Every Day blog.
Learn Something New That is Challenging
Take on the challenge of learning something new that requires a lot of focus like learning a new instrument or language. This creates new pathways in the brain leading to something called neuroplasticity. Functional neurologists are finding ways to increase connections in the brain allowing their patients to experience better brain function. Using parts of the brain that are not normally required for daily living allows the brain to increase its functionality. This leads to better brain function and focus. Even learning a new sport like tennis or bowling, or a game like chess can give you an increased ability to concentrate.