I find it really difficult to focus and concentrate on certain tasks which I find don't come naturally to me. For example, I can focus on exercising very easily as it's what I do and trained to do for many years. However, sit me at a computer and tell me to get on with emails or writing like I'm doing now and I find I have to be in the right frame of mind. Therefore, I use certain strategies to get me to concentrate or else I will find every excuse not to get on with it; sound familiar?
The following strategies could be useful to implement whether you are the same as me or perhaps struggle to exercise, do housework or do a DIY project or anything which requires a lot of effort from you.
1. Fresh air and natural sunlight-The first thing I do is make sure I have been outside for a brisk walk as it is a great way to start the day and a good warm-up prior to any exercise routine. The benefits of natural sunlight will help the body produce sleep-inducing melatonin at night. Therefore, if you struggle to get to sleep then this is a great way to break the late-night cycle which in turn will result in better focus and productivity during the day. The oxygen from the fresh air will also benefit your mind and body natuarlly.
2. Drink green tea-Although some may find this fairly bitter drink hard to swallow, for me it has become the staple of my day. Not only are there numerous health benefits such as the very powerful polyphenols called catechins, one type has anti-cancer properties and all types protect the cells from free radical damage, bacteria and viruses. Green tea also lowers fibrinogen which can cause clots and strokes and studies in Japan concluded it can even help patients with high cholesterol. That aside (although not to be ignored), the amino acid in green tea called L-theanine is helpful in improving mood and calming down the brain, with the neurotransmitter GABA. This induces a focused state and enhances pleasure with the release of dopamine. The L-theanine counteracts the "jittery" feeling you get from caffeine and gives a sense of being awake and alert without being hypertense.
I love the ritual of making traditional, ceremonial grade matcha green tea with a whisk and bowl. The Zen monk Eisai brought the practice of preparing matcha green tea to Japan and it became a pre-battle ritual for the Samurai Warriors during the "Song Dynasty" Now it is a traditional Japanese Tea Ceremony.
3. Defuse rosemary essential oil- The distinctive aromatic smell of rosemary is often associated with its culinary uses however the essential oil has a whole host of positive benefits and healing properties. A few drops in the bath will restore flagging energy levels after a period of prolonged stress. However, during times of intense concentration, rosemary essential oil can boost mental power, and improve memory and focus. Therefore, I usually add a few drops to an essential oil burner or diffuser and breathe this whilst I am working. It has been historically documented that Greek scholars wore garlands of rosemary whilst studying for exams. A portable way is to add a few drops to a carrier oil and dab on your wrists or temples.
4. Listen to music- This can be a matter of choice and taste however there are certain types of music which I tend to listen to whilst trying to study or work. having a background of working in a gym, I can pretty much focus with high energy music and music with lyrics playing in the background. However, nowadays I enjoy classical music or certain types of instrumental music whilst working. Alexa is a blessing for this too, sometimes I will ask her to play music for focus or concentration music. There are also specific Apps that have "study music" using certain "Binaural Beats" which tap into certain brain waves which stimulate areas of the brain for intelligence, focus and memory. However, if it's something motivational you need then obviously find that piece of music that inspires you to get moving.
5. Belly or Yoga breathing- When under stress our breathing will go into a fight or flight response and become shallow where we only breathe into the top part of our lungs which is called "clavicular breathing" If you are struggling with a task or exercise, make a conscious note of how you are breathing and take a few moments to breathe down into your navel and then up into your chest in a wave-like pattern. Do this a few times and feel the clarity in your mind and the energy in the rest of your body. This can be key to your mental or physical performance. Alternatively, try doing "Kappalabhati" which creates energy and heat in the body or "Anulom-Viloma" which balances both sides of the brain. See my article on Yoga Breathing techniques for more information.
Level 3 Personal Trainer, Sivananda Yoga Teacher and Bio-hacker.
Discalaimer: All information here is not mean't to cure or treat illnesses or diseases. Please consult your GP or physician before trying any of the above if you are unsure, particularly when using essential oils as some are not suitable for children or during pregnancy.