Improve Concentration

Dec 18, 2008 by

Improve ConcentrationUnfortunately, today’s most common medicinal approach to improve concentration carries with it some unpleasant side effects. It is no secret that we are living in the age of pharmaceuticals. Ever since The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) – the handbook for all mental health professionals, from clinicians and researchers to insurance companies and policy makers – defined Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) as a neurological condition, our culture’s prevailing method for treating this disorder has been through prescription pills.

Overall use of prescription stimulants like Ritalin and Concerta has skyrocketed in the past two decades, and today more of our nation’s children are medicated than ever before! This is a terrifying and tragic development, especially as many of these medications carry side effects that can range from unpleasant—dry mouth, constipation, headache, and trouble sleeping– to potentientially life-threatening. Seizures and anaphylactic reactions, including difficulty breathing, have been reported with more than one brand of medication designed to improve concentration and curb hyperactivity.

The pill-happy approach to improve concentration has recently begun to meet with some opposition. It may have taken awhile, but the public at large appears to be waking up to the dangers of filling our youth with powerful chemical stimulants to aid concentration. Walter Kirn’s novel, Thumbsucker, told a highly autobiographical account of one young man’s struggles with ADHD medication. Even The Simpsons has tackled the subject, parodying our country’s obsession with concentration pills and skewering the drug companies behind the movement.

The good news is that you don’t have to risk the side effects of powerful pharmaceuticals like these if you want to improve concentration (or help your kids to do the same).  There are increasingly more and more options for non-chemical, all-natural methods to improve concentration: some of these methods are as basic as lifestyle adjustments, mental focusing exercises, and removing the internal and external distractions that interfere with concentration.  Getting rid of “life clutter” can go a long, long way for people who find themselves unable to concentrate on the important tasks at hand. Of course, this is more difficult for some of us than for others.

Decluttering your life is both a mental and a physical exercise: it’s important to tend to both your inner and outer workspaces if you want to maximize your ability to concentrate. Take a look around your work or study space: are there piles of paper lying everywhere? Smart phones and computer tablets blinking with text messages and emails awaiting your attention? To improve your concentration on the task at hand, you must make a concerted effort to remove visual and other distractions from your work environment.

File your important papers in a cabinet or folder where you can find them easily without them cluttering up your view. Set a specific time of day when you will check texts and emails, and mute your mobile devices at other times so you won’t be tempted to respond to the latest tweet. Although it may be tempting to try and be “always on”, constantly interrupting your work to do so destroys concentration and productivity.

Noise levels in your work space can also be distracting. Many people find their ability to concentrate improves after they turn off the TV or radio. Working with the sounds of TV, music, or the chatter of office mates in the background can detract from your ability to concentrate and absorb information effectively, which is why many students favor quiet libraries to study in. However, some people also find that their concentration and ability to write or study actually improves in relatively noisy environments such as a busy office or coffee shop: in this case, the background noises coalesce into a kind of white noise, which acts like a wall to block out other distractions.

Be true to your own work style and try out different environments if you’re having trouble concentrating in your current workspace; just remember that the busy café scenario only works for those who can tune out background noise. Distraction sets in when you’re trying to pay attention to something beyond the task at hand, such as a TV program playing in the background.

Other ways to improve concentration come from within. It’s hard to get down to work on a project or study session when your mind is buzzing with interior thoughts and distractions! Practicing techniques of basic meditation, such as deep breathing and focusing on how your body and mind feel in the present moment, when done for as little as 20 minutes a day, has been shown to decrease heart and breathing rate, boost the immune system, and improve concentration! The power our bodies and minds have to balance themselves without the aid of drugs or pills is extrememly encouraging news … but we have to take the lead and actually make this quiet time a daily practice in our lives.

In general, taking the time to tend to your overall health is key to improving concentration and focus. A lack of concentration can be a sign of chronic stress and fatigue. Luckily though, you can reduce your stress levels by eating a balanced diet, exercising— a proven way to blow off stress—and getting a good 7-8 hours of restful sleep every night.

There is also help for improving concentration in the world of herbs, as there has been for thousands of years: several organic herbal supplements used in traditional medicine have performed well with respect to improving brain power. Clinical studies are beginning to reveal these herbs as safer and cheaper alternative to chemical medicines, and a few are so simple to take with such tangible results that they are really “no-brainers!” And today, products like Cognihance have succeeded in combining these effective herbs (as many as nine at a time) into one powerful tincture that will improve not only concentration, but also memory. Of all of the products we have tested, tried, and reviewed here at the Celastrus Shop, none have performed nearly as well as Cognihance.

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