The ability to pay attention, remember what you read, and stay calm in stressful situations are all facets of cognitive functioning. Focus is the ability to direct your attention. Memory is the brain's ability to store information. Mood is how you feel at any given time. When you have good focus and good memory, you are able to concentrate on what you are doing. If you don't have a good mood, it will be hard for you to do anything productive or enjoyable. There are many things that can affect your focus and memory levels. Make sure that these factors are not affecting the concentration levels by changing diet, exercising regularly, sleeping well, reducing stress levels, and having regular check-ups with a doctor. These factors will help increase the concentration level as well as improve memory levels.
It’s been said that the only constant in life changes. How do you go about being an active participant in change? The world is flooded with distractions. If you’re constantly bombarded by information, it can be difficult to focus on what really matters. There are several ways you can improve your focus, but the best way is through relaxation techniques. Let’s know some more useful tips for de-stress, improving focus, and staying productive.
Making a daily to-do list may seem like a basic organization but it can increase the focus too. Make a realistic checklist, set the goals, and help the brain to focus on the things it needs. Having a well-organized checklist will reduce the workload and stress.
After completing one task, mark it, and go on with the next one. It will increase productivity and will also give a sense of accomplishment with every completed task. Never try to do multitask, it will divide concentration and will make easy work complicated.
The brain needs to be used regularly to stay healthy and active. Just like physical workouts, there are mental workouts you can do. Playing isn’t always time-wasting or entertainment. It’s also great to improve memory and help the mind to grow and expand. Games like Sudoku, chess, crossword puzzles, jigsaw puzzles, scrambles, etc. are the best form of brain workout.
The mind can't perform well when the body is miserable. In modern society, we spend most of our lives sitting in chairs, that isn’t good for our health. Physical exercise also has an impact on brain health. Regular exercising reduces the risk of memory loss and works to protect the brain. Aerobic physical activities like running, hiking, brisk walking, swimming, dancing, etc, increase brainpower and heart rate.
Being distracted is a possible way to lose concentration. Whether it's TV, music, family members, or online chatting, these may affect productivity. Prevent distractions by shifting into a close door option ( working from home), strictly maintain schedule saying “no” to other work during working time, keep the desk free of any devices before beginning work. Cutting down distracting noise by closing the door, or using headphones with calming recitation or music, will make the concentration strong.
Distraction isn’t always external noises. Internal distractions like worry, self-talk, anxiousness are also there to affect our activity. A five-minute mindful meditation can help here in refocusing on work. How to do that?
Sit in a comfortable place and set a 5-minute timer. Now close the eyes, and notice the breath. Don’t try to change or control, just let the body relax, and focus on breathing. Breath and focus on breathing, this is only what you have to do until the time is up. This meditation seems simple and it is! But the effect is huge, it will strengthen the attention muscle and will help the brain to improve focus, and attention.
Having a balanced diet improves memory and overall brain performance. A balanced diet includes foods like- green leafy vegetables, plant-based food, whole grains, berries, nuts, legumes, chicken, turkey, olive oil, coconut oil, herbs, spices, fish oil, fatty fish (salmon, sardines), red wine, etc. All these foods are great sources of omega-3 fatty acid that is known for brain-boosting.
Another effective way to boost memory is to limit sugar intake. Sugar reacts differently in the brain cells that affect the behavior impairing ability. It makes people emotional and compels them to make decisions based on cognitive biases rather than facts. There are also correlations between high blood pressure or heart disease caused by consuming unhealthy foods like soda or booze. Almost 90% of people who drink daily have a high risk for memory loss and Alzheimer’s disease! Junk food is also avoidable, it disturbs the mood and can lead to depression and anxiety. So avoid junk food, cut down on soda, alcohol, and fatty foods from the diet and stick to the goals!
Nothing can help you concentrate more than a good break. Take a short break once every hour, while actively working on the task. Leave the work and have some healthy snacks or go outside for a walk to take some fresh air. This will nourish the brain and reinvigorate the concentration.
Taking breaks during lunchtime or dinner will give a clear mind and motivation for getting back to work again! Along with a short break between work, make time to take a big break. Make yourself free of any work and task, and let the mind rest for a few days. Pausing mental stress will refresh the mind and make it ready to concentrate and be more creative.
Be flexible about what activities you do. Ask yourself "What have you always dreamed of doing? What would make you feel more engaged in life?" Instead of thinking time on task, spent time on engaging with the world. Try to be curious and lose all distractions for between 20-30 minutes each day. Make a new hobby and try concentrating on that, it can be playing with pets, planting a new tree, making some new friends, or giving a try to something that you wanted to do a long time back, but had to leave due to some reason. Practicing impulse control by immediately undoing negative behavior can be also good behavior. Life is too short, so spend every moment on things you love.
Sound sleep is essential for brain health. Not getting enough sleep can make it harder for the brain to focus and concentrate. It will create problems in innovative thinking and gradually will lose the problem-solving ability.
American research said if one’s sleep cycle is disrupted it will interrupt the brain process of creating memories. Adult people should sleep a minimum of 7-9 hours a day to give the brain full rest and power to boost memory and attention.
Losing concentration in the day is natural, but not getting them back with enough sleep at night isn’t normal. Due to lost focus, you might easily make mistakes but if the brain is fully recharged with a sound sleep of night, it creates positive energy and clarity of mind. Turn off any electronic devices before one hour of going to bed, make the bed comfortable, take a warm bath, read some book, or do some light exercise to ensure a healthy sleep.
Let’s know about some supplements to improve focus, memory, and mood.
Omega-3: Omega -3 supplement made from fish oil or veg oil works as a natural brain booster. This will enhance the brain, prevent memory loss in old age, increase retention power, help to learn and memorize new things.
Vitamin-B: Vitamin-B supplement is another supplement to improve focus, memory, and mood that contains vitamin B1, B2, B3 and magnesium. These elements work together to make the cells and nerve stronger. Vitamin B will enhance cognitive ability, concentration power, and ensure better sleep.
Probiotics: Probiotics indirectly enhances the brain, boost cognitive function, lower stress and anxiety and ensure a good mood.
Gut and brain relation is two-way street relation. Gut bacteria influence the brain and the brain also influences the gut microbiome., The gut contains more than 70 trillion bacteria that influence the mood, thoughts, and brain.
The gut has a profound impact on mood. It is the largest part of the endocrine system, as it’s an integrated network of 150 million neurons cells. Don’t be surprised as the intestines contain brain cells, because the gut is considered as a second brain. Some scientist also claims it to be the first brain, because it was developed millions of years before the human brain was developed and the signal molecules of the brain are originated from the gut nervous system. Gut sent the information ( collected from the intestine) through the vagus nerve.
When the gut is disturbed, it may cause neuropsychiatric effects, collaborate with psychotropic medication and influence the mood.
Chemicals called serotonin worked as an anti-depression medicine found in the gut. The gut contains neurotransmitters like norepinephrine, dopamine, acetylcholine, and GABA affects mood, concentration, anxiety, motivation, and reward. Some more gut bacteria called neuroactive like butyrate also affect the brain. It helps in reducing depression and anxiety.
Like the gut influences the brain, the brain also affects the gut. Depression causes an imbalance of good and bad bacteria in the gut. And as a result, inhibited gut-brain-immune system interactions occurred. Another brain disease “stress”induces the gut permeable, and bad bacteria get a chance to increase.
Probiotic or antidepressants?
Nutrient deficiencies lead to overgrowth of bad bacteria in the gut and cause depression. Consuming probiotics are better for the mood while processed food, sugar, alcohol, antibiotics help to flourish the bad bacteria and disrupt serotonin production in the gut. Increasing good bacteria in the gut can improve the mood. Two strains ( lactobacillus and bifidobacterium) are helpful in decreasing depression and anxiety. Take them from yogurt, fermented food like sauerkraut, and kimchi.
Pro-Biotics improves blood-brain barrier health which is related to neurochemical regulation causing less mood swings due to its effect on the bacteria system. An American study said women who consumed probiotic-rich foods or supplements have lower cytokines in the gut and have a balanced brain.
On the other hand, antidepressants can be detrimental to intestinal health. Anti-depressants have a negative effect on bacteria in the gut and disrupt their life cycles leading to imbalances of flora which go by remodeling ability whose impact is only visualized. After three days the balanced depression cycle starts again with bad bacteria overgrowth,
After reading the article we have learned how to improve focus, memory, and mood. Though it was not easy, but possible. Improving focus requires understanding the current mental state and then breaking down the behaviors that keep us away from paying attention. Improving memory means understanding how information moves through the brain and retaining it over time. And improving mood means making sure that the right kind of hormones and neurotransmitters are at work. Following the above tips, will get improved focus, memory, and mood.