Look around the room you’re currently in and count the number of digital devices: are there more than two? Three? You’re not alone. Contemporary society is full of mobile phones, tablets, smart TVs — it’s an endless world of flashy distractions.
Do you sometimes feel a little out of focus? With all of the instant technology everywhere, many people have become accustomed to accessing information right away and tuning out what’s happening around them. The urge to check your Twitter feed can quickly interrupt that three-hour Zoom meeting with your co-workers. Sometimes, it’s worthwhile to check in on your ability to concentrate.
Technology isn’t the only culprit for lack of mental awareness; many things in life affect concentration and honing in on your ability to focus on one thing at a time. General stress, poor sleeping habits, and an inactive lifestyle, for example, can affect a person’s ability to focus on a task at hand.
However, concentration is incredibly essential for a fulfilling life. It allows people to remain focused and attentive at work, in social situations, and at school. A high level of concentration also improves:
- Focusing on one task at a time
- Focusing on attaining a goal
- And more
If you find yourself reaching for your phone every ten minutes while trying to finish a highly-detailed report (don’t worry, it happens to the best of us), perhaps you want to improve your concentration skills. Read on to discover four activities that can strengthen your attention and focus.
In addition to being a creative outlet, knitting also has several other, slightly lesser-known benefits. The repetitive, rhythmic motion of knitting relaxes the body and mind, and it’s an excellent way to de-stress after a long day.
The practice of knitting also increases concentration. It requires people to sit down with some yarn and focus on a project for an extended time. It’s easier to stay on task when you’re motivated by genuine interest. You can see the progress you’re making as you go along, and knitting can train your brain to better focus on other situations, too.
After a little while, when you’ve developed a basic skill level, it becomes easier to stay engaged with other projects because knitting trains your mind to stay focused on one thing at a time. Once you get the hang of the craft, you’ll notice a better attention span, and your mind will stop wandering during a dry lecture or a long movie. Do you find it difficult to sustain concentration? A simple knitting project might be the solution.
Check out Yarnspirations.com/yarn to find exciting patterns and all of the best brands of yarn and supplies. Even if you’ve never held a knitting needle before, you can learn the essentials and first steps by downloading a couple of beginner patterns. You’ll start to approach stressful situations with less anxiety and more focus.
2. Mindfulness Meditation
Meditation is a way to train the mind to be fully aware of one thing at a time. Practicing regular meditation has remarkably positive results for most people — increasing the ability to concentrate and be mindful of what’s happening at the moment.
There are several different meditation techniques. One of the most effective and best-known and productive ways to improve concentration is to practice mindfulness meditation.
It’s challenging to devote your full attention to any task. Activities such as driving, playing sports or music, working, paying attention at school, require high levels of focus and concentration.
Mindfulness meditation allows you to train the mind to remain present and focused on one thing — physical sensations or the speed of breathing, for example. You learn to let go of all other thoughts and distractions.
It’s not immediately gratifying, however. It does take some time to develop the skill, but with practice, you eventually learn to be mindful of your surroundings. You’ll develop a clearer, deep focus and appreciation for each moment of life.
Although it takes some practice, mindfulness meditation is worth it. You’ll start to feel freer as you notice yourself staying on track of tasks and concentrating better. Try sitting for five minutes a day, listening to the sound of your breath as it goes in and out of your body.
3. Set a Strict Sleep Schedule
Sleep deprivation is one of the biggest culprits for poor concentration, not to mention other critical cognitive functions such as memory and attention. It’s common to experience occasional sleep deprivation, and a night or two a month of restlessness may not cause too many problems. However, consistent sleepless nights can affect your mood and performance at work or school.
Do you best to shut off or mute all technology (such as computers, phones, TVs) one or two hours before you hit the sheets. Staring into a screen all day isn’t good for your eyes or mind, so leave some space for your brain to adjust to the natural light. Try reading a book before bed, or (although it requires the use of a smart device) listening to a relaxing podcast or music.
Stick with a schedule. Turn out the light at the same time five nights a week, and if you can, go for seven. Wake up the same time. It’s challenging at first, but once you get into the routine, it will become surprisingly easy. Consider speaking with a doctor or therapist if you have debilitating insomnia.
Most people already know that regular exercise helps to stay physically and mentally fit. It doesn’t mean you have run a marathon twice a year, but to keep healthy, exercising a few times a week helps people maintain cardiovascular health, strength, and good mental health.
Increased concentration is also among the many benefits of engaging in physical activity. Exercise causes blood to flow to the brain, which then ignites your neurons and promotes cell growth, particularly in the hippocampus (the part of the brain that’s critical for learning).
The next time you feel antsy, go for a brisk walk around the block. You might feel much more ready to dig into that stack of books you have to finish by the morning.
In today’s fast-paced world, sometimes it’s tough to concentrate on what matters. Consider these activities as tools to help you focus on one thing at a time.