Concentration: Back-to-School Special
Do you have trouble staying on task? Do your children have trouble in school? Here are some tips and tricks to increase your family's ability to concentrate!
There are many reasons why people have a hard time concentrating and staying on task. There are reasons uncontrollable to us (disorders and other biological functions), however, there are some aspects of concentration that we can control!
Concentration has been defined as "the ability to direct one's thinking in whatever direction one would intend".
In concentration, we align all our dispersed energies into focusing on just one thing. When mastered, concentration can be of unimaginable benefit in our life; through concentration, we can increase our productivity and give ourselves greater peace of mind.
Our ability to concentrate depends on:
- Commitment: We need to make a personal commitment to finishing the task in a realistic way. If we just play at it in a half-hearted manner then it is more difficult to take the tasks and ourselves seriously.
- Enthusiasm: If we are interested in the task and enjoy doing it, then we find it easy to motivate ourselves to start. Once started, our feelings of involvement in the activity keep us going - we want to do it!
- Skill: Knowing how to do something gives confidence that our efforts will be successful, so we don't have to deal with anxiety about will this work or not. Anxiety tends to impair concentration.
- Emotional/Physical State: When we are in good physical condition - i.e. feeling rested, relaxed and comfortable - and our emotions are calm and benevolent, then we tend to be positive about things. This in turn raises self-esteem, which makes us more able to concentrate.
- Our psychological state: If we are in an obsessional state or distracted our thoughts are pre-occupied, leaving little mental space to think about anything else.
- Environment: It is much more difficult to concentrate if our surroundings keep intruding in on our awareness, perhaps because it is noisy, too hot or too cold, the furniture is uncomfortable or the people around us are stressing out.
So how do we improve?
One thing at a time
Concentration becomes hopeless when we get distracted by several different things; to improve our concentration we must stop trying to do several things at once. Make an ordered list. Start with number 1 and don't move on or think about the other items until number 1 is finished. This list can be physical or mental as long as you can distinguish each task. If we can organize this one-pointedness into our work or school days we can develop a tremendous intensity that enables us to achieve our tasks much quicker. You can help your kids by separating homework into subjects and focusing on one at a time. Homework can be less daunting when it's separated into more manageable chunks.
Start with purpose
If we casually begin a project, it is easy to begin daydreaming and lose focus; we need to be determined to concentrate and set ourselves up for success. When you are given an important task by a boss or teacher plan your time based on the perfect concentration scenario. Make sure you know the full extent of the project and its parts. If need be, split it into smaller tasks to maximize your concentration potential. Find or create a working environment that will reduce distractions. Make a homework nook in your home. Choose an area with a comfortable supported chair, plenty of desk-space, natural light, no TV/media, and all the tools you or your kids need to be successful. Having a homework time for the whole family can also set a purpose. If every member of the family is concentrating on a homework task at the same time, no one feels left out of the fun and you can all enjoy time together when you are done.
It is difficult to concentrate on one thing for an extended time period for even the best concentrators. Sometimes the best solution is to give ourselves frequent change. Taking short breaks in the middle of a task can help someone recharge and refocus their energy afterwards. Keep it to a short walk around the office/house go to the washroom, get a glass of water even do a couple energy boosting stretches or exercises. Just don't use the break to engage in distracting media activities. These can derail an entire project and move the brain away from its task completely and even forget what you were doing in the first place. By breaking up tasks into smaller chunks, you can plan breaks in between. This can create an even more intense concentration knowing you need to finish before taking a break!
Take a break
Optimize your mind and body
The powers of our concentration depend a lot on our physical well-being. A tired, unhealthy, ailing body has a harder time concentrating than a healthy, optimized body does. Take a look at what you and your family are doing on a daily basis. Do you get enough sleep? Are you eating a balanced diet? Are you getting enough physical activity? Is your nervous system optimized? A lot of people know the answer to the first 3 questions but have no idea about their nervous system. The nervous system is the control centre for all of the functions in the body sending and receiving messages to and from the brain. Even the most physically fit and health-conscious family that gets 8 hours of sleep per night could have challenges stemming from an unoptimized nervous system. Regular visits to a chiropractor can optimize your nervous system and improve your powers of concentration.
Do you know how your nervous system works?
There are plenty of things that you can do at home and at work to concentrate on the task at hand, but everyone is different. It might take time to figure out what habits are best for you and your family. When you find what works, apply it all areas of life that require concentration. If your child is having issues concentrating in class, talk to their teacher about what your child needs to concentrate. They might be able to make adjustments in the classroom for your child's success! If you need something additional at work, don't be afraid to ask. It is in their best interest to improve your ability to concentrate!
If you have any questions about how neural optimization can help your concentration feel free to contact us! www.drsaraoneill.com 519.880.0003