It’s Summer – Long days, warm nights, concerts in the park, baseball, hot dogs, camping, swimming at the lake, and so much more! It seems there is a never-ending list of activities for the summer. So much to do, so little time!
But wait, unless you are lucky enough to have summers off, we still must go to work and be productive. Do you find it’s harder to concentrate at work in the summer? Do you have a distracting view like this from your office or conference room?
How can we improve focus and concentration?
As with most things related to our health, it all starts with food. If you want to improve your focus and concentration, it’s important to eat well.
Ah, simple words “eat well” but a complex subject with a lot of conflicting information. How can we “eat well” to improve concentration and focus?
- Avoid sugar. Sugar, particularly refined sugar negatively impacts your attention span, short-term memory, ability to learn and mood.
- Use caffeine wisely. Too much caffeine can double your levels of stress hormones like cortisol and epinephrine causing caffeine-induced anxiety, insomnia, irritability, heart palpitations and even full-blown panic attacks. When used wisely, caffeine can help you concentrate and focus and provide an energy boost by increasing the levels of dopamine in the brain.
- Ensure your diet contains Omega-3 fatty acids. These are commonly found in fish, flaxseed, and hemp oil. Omega-3 fatty acids play a key role in preserving brain health.
foods high in antioxidants. Antioxidants help defend your cells from damage
caused by free radicals. Foods high in
- Dark Chocolate
- Goji Berries
- Red or Purple Cabbage
- Beans (Legumes)
Along with a healthy diet, there are lifestyle habits we can adopt to help improve focus and concentration. Sleep, exercise and managing stress are the big three!
- Good sleep allows us to think clearly, remember information, and make good decisions. Together these are referred to as “executive function”. When we lack quality sleep, our executive function is impaired. It becomes harder to focus, slows our reaction times, reduces our creativity and problem-solving abilities.
- Regular aerobic exercise appears to boost the size of the hippocampus, the area of the brain involved in verbal memory and learning. What exercise is best? Any type of aerobic exercise will help – walking, swimming, stair climbing, tennis, squash, dancing – resistance training, balance and muscle toning exercises do not have the same results.
- When stressed, it is more difficult to form short-term memories. Stress can also lead to exhaustion which leads to cognitive impairment in attention and working memory. If that wasn’t enough, chronic stress triggers long-term changes in brain structure and function causing certain areas to shrink!
- Relieve stress with breathing exercises, meditation, tai chi, and/or practicing mindfulness. Find the technique and method that works best for you. Meditation can also help train your brain to focus and stay on task.
Along with diet and lifestyle habits, our environment can affect our concentration and focus.
- Clutter affects our ability to concentrate and process information. Try removing visual clutter from your work space.
- Distractions – commit to one thing and work to remove distractions. Our biggest distractions are: emails and social media. Try to control the times you log into email, turn off your cell phone notifications, take a break from social media to remove distractions for a set period of time.
How does our environment smell? Smell? Aromatherapy can be used to help boost productivity. The best essential oils for boosting your productivity include:
- Lemon – this uplifting scent can help get you motivated!
- Rosemary – can help reduce mental fatigue
- Lavender – has calming properties that can help calm emotional stress
- Peppermint – stimulates the mind and gives a boost of energy
Native Remedies has created a Fatigue Fighter, unique blend of essential oils to promote alertness and mental sharpness. This oil contains cedarwood, peppermint, rosemary and eucalyptus essential oils for an ideal pick me up at any time of day!
BY MARY ELLEN KOSANKE