Let’s begin with, concentration. It is the act or process of bringing together or focusing. For instance, bringing one’s thought processes to bear on a central subject.
While directing it to a task at hand, we sometimes end up having trouble with it. It’s easy to be interrupted, however many reasons that appear small are the big worries (in disguise) that sprout and hamper our higher cognitive functions. Something as simple as stress or lack of sleep, it can also be a symptom of depression or anxiety. It’s nice to take breaks to do an emotional check-in with ourselves throughout the day.
PAUSE, ask yourself “how am I feeling at this moment?” or “do I need to take a quick break?” or “what are my thoughts like?” and so on.
Coming back to signs and symptoms that you can assess for yourself.
Lack of concentration can affect people very differently. You might experience a number of symptoms such as:
-Making careless mistakes
-Difficulty sitting still
-Unable to make choices
-Lack of mental energy
-Forgetting things that just happened
Lack of focus can also be worsened by several external factors such as your external environment, the time of day, and the task at hand. However, you’ll likely notice after a while that you’re experiencing one or more of the symptoms mentioned.
There are certain times when the inability to focus can be due to a medical cause,
-ADHD: the neuro-divergent brain thinks differently than the normal brain. Signs of inattentiveness, hyperactivity, or both can be seen at an early age. Sometimes symptoms may go missed and undiagnosed. This may result in people getting a late diagnosis which can affect a person’s cognitive functioning to a greater extent. People with ADHD have trouble concentrating, and experience hyperactivity, or both.
-Concussion: a mild to harsh blow to the head can cause a lack of focus, fatigue, and memory issues.
-Dementia: a group of conditions that are characterized by a loss of memory and impaired judgment which usually occurs in older people. Dementia can also present as poor concentration or a lack of focus.
-Insomnia: it is defined as difficulty falling and staying asleep. A lack of a healthy sleep cycle can result in difficulty concentrating.
-Depression: a mental health disorder characterized by depressed moods and a loss of interest in activities. Depression can cause concentration problems and trouble focusing.
-Anxiety: an intense and persistent worry and fear about everyday situations. There are types of anxiety disorders, including Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder, and Panic Disorder that can present with different signs of trouble with concentration and memory recollection.
Difficulty in concentrating isn’t UN-common.
Here are some ways to get that focus back-
1. Value attentiveness. We all design our reality by what we pay attention to. We get less out of life than we could if our focus is compromised.
2. Be here and now. Eckhart Tolle (renowned philosopher) says, “The clock’s hands move, but it is always now.” To make the most out of our days is a decision we can take any time we want. What we have is now. The future is unforeseen and the past cannot be changed! You can choose to learn from your past mistakes and work on yourself to shape your future.
3. Choose to be aware. Try to attend to what you are doing, why, and how with an intent. Acknowledge how you feel and identify emotions that directly come in the way when you focus. If how you feel obstructs your concentration, change how you feel. It IS a choice that you can make!
4. Set realistic goals. Identify your goals to be realistic and achievable. Along with this, map your progress to see how far you’ve come and assess the need for improvement.
5. Keep distractions at bay. It can be tough to not be sidetracked by interruptions or daydreaming. There are various strategies one can adopt to retain focus, many people choose to put their phones on silent to avoid being distracted by notifications, the Pomodoro technique, making priority lists, etc.
6. Say no to multitasking. Multitasking is seen as a good trait of the personality but in reality, it’s the devil at play. When you find yourself multitasking- remind yourself that you’re only expelling your energy on tasks without full focus. So, it’s more like jumping on the bandwagon of mediocrity. It interferes with the ability to learn and remember.
7. Too bored? A dull day can really do a number on you. Make your work more engaging by adding more stimulation to the environment. You use fidget devices to make it fun! The whole idea is to not give into the monotony of life.
8. Channel your emotional side. Identify what emotion arises for what you experience as both negative and positive emotions work for us in developing focus. This emotion will arise again if a task is similar. The idea is to not let this emotion define you.
9. Practice attentiveness. Acquiring good concentration skills is a conscious choice, a decision. One has to practice. Psychologist Ellen Langer suggests staring at your finger, for example. You can also practice noticing your immediate environment: your bed, touch of cloth on your skin, sniff a perfume or an essential oil, etc. You can practice alike activities with anything you encounter. You can also practice meditating, as it enhances overall memory.
This blog was written under the expert guidance and feedback from Ms.Prachi Sharma, Clinical Psychologist at Edited and Coordinated by Ram