With Dr. Olga Filippa Nel, Clinical Psychologist
An increasing number of my patients are reporting difficulties concentrating and focusing, so I thought I would provide some suggestions on how to cope with some of the concentration killers that have become part of our daily lives.
Understandably, the “new normal” does not feel particularly normal to most people and, as a result, our minds are constantly trying to process and adapt. This is a time and energy-consuming process that uses up much of your cognitive capacity and it is not unusual to find it difficult, from time to time, to sustain attention when you are overwhelmed and feeling out of control. If this is the case, try some relaxation exercises, like controlled breathing and other grounding techniques to help you refocus. Declutter your mind by jotting down those interfering thoughts, like things you need to remember, as this makes concentration easier too.
If you are trying to work or study, there are other pitfalls that you can avoid, in order to improve your focus. Disconnect social media notifications because every status update interferes with your train of thought. Cut down your email load. You can do this by having separate accounts for essential mail and for promotional or social communications. Refrain from constantly reading and responding to each one, while you are trying to concentrate on a task. Set specific times to deal with your inbox and stick to them. The same goes for calls, put your phone on silent when you need to focus.
Multitasking doesn’t work! Even if you feel you are a master at it, you are not actually getting more done in less time. Current research shows that you lose time when you switch your attention between tasks and, consequently, it takes less time to complete one task at a time. Boring or routine chores also make it harder to sustain focus. Break them down and reward yourself with a treat after completing each one.
You cannot concentrate successfully if you are tired, thirsty or hungry. Get sufficient sleep at night and allow yourself a short break every half hour. If you need, you can use this time for a quick drink of water and a healthy snack. Move your body and stretch a little before returning to your task.
In a world filled with distractions, improving your focus and concentration will make a considerable difference to your overall wellness.
Live mindfully and blossom!