A Harvard Health Publishing article shared that mindfulness, cognitive training and a healthy lifestyle may help sharpen one’s focus. But what’s fogging it up in the first place?
Well, like computers that slow with use, our brains accumulate wear and tear that affect processing. Dr. Daffner (a neurologist and director of the Center for Brain/Mind Medicine at Harvard-affiliated Brigham and Women’s Hospital) says this can be caused by a number of physiological stressors such as inflammation, injury to blood vessels (especially if you have high blood pressure), the buildup of abnormal proteins as well as naturally occurring brain shrinkage.
Other factors that can affect concentration include: – Underlying conditions. Depression or sleep disorders can undermine one’s ability to concentrate. As can the effects of vision or hearing loss.
– Medication side effects. Some medications, especially anticholinergics (such as treatments for incontinence, depression or allergies), can slow processing speed and your ability to think clearly. – Excessive drinking impairs thinking and causes interrupted sleep, affecting concentration. – Information overload. ‘When there's too much material, it burdens our filtering system and it's easy to get distracted’, Dr. Daffner says.
Strategies for Staying Focused
Consider the following strategies to improve attention.
MINDFULNESS This can rewire the brain, strengthening attention in everyday life, according to Kim Willment, a neuropsychologist with Brigham and Women’s Hospital. She recommends sitting still for a few minutes each day, closing your eyes and focusing on your breathing as well as the sounds and sensations around you. A HEALTHIER LIFESTYLE Start with sleep and exercise. ‘There is a direct link between exercise and cognitive ability, especially attention,’ Dr. Daffner says. ‘When you exercise, you increase the availability of brain chemicals that promote new brain connections, reduce stress and improve sleep. And when we sleep, we reduce stress hormones that can be harmful to the brain and we clear out proteins that injure it.’
Aim for seven to eight hours of sleep each night and 150 minutes per week of aerobic exercise, such as brisk walking. Other healthy steps to improve focus include eating a Mediterranean-style diet (which has been shown to support brain health), treating underlying conditions and changing medications that may be affecting your ability to focus. ‘Getting older is out of your control,’ Dr. Daffner says, ‘but healthier living is something you determine and it may improve concentration.’
HOW FLOATING CAN HELP WITH FOCUS
Floating offers an environment that promotes mindfulness by making it easier for you to reach deep meditative stages. It also has many physical and mental health benefits, including reducing blood pressure and heart rate – amongst many others.
Ready to improve your focus? Book your float.