If the thoughts often wander, concentration problems can be behind it. What are the causes and how do you get rid of them?
Concentration problems can be a burden in everyday life: You were about to finish your tax return, but now you find yourself staring out of the window again. But at what point does the constant distraction become a concern – and what can you do about it?
Concentration problems and lack of concentration
Although the terms concentration disorder and lack of concentration are often used synonymously, they do not actually describe the same condition.
Concentration disorder means that it is difficult or impossible to concentrate on a task for a short time. If this state is permanent, it becomes a lack of concentration – memory and brain go on a permanent strike.
However, the two terms cannot really be distinguished from each other, the transition is usually fluid. In addition, concentration disorders generally increase with age because the brain starts to deteriorate at some point. If you feel that you suffer from a long-term lack of concentration, you should talk to a doctor about it. He can make the appropriate diagnosis.
What are the causes of poor concentration?
Concentration disorders often result from the physical and mental stress of everyday life. For example through:
- Unhealthy diet and alcohol consumption
- Mental stress, for example worries about a family member
- Diseases, for example attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) in children or dementia
If concentration simply does not work, it does not necessarily have to be our fault. External factors also influence our performance. These include:
- Poor light
- Poor air
By the way, in this article we will tell you how you can reduce stress.
Why does a lack of concentration occur at all?
If we want to concentrate on something, the body has to provide a lot of energy – this is not possible continuously. The longer we work concentrated, the more exhausted we become. Mental fatigue is one of the most common symptoms of a lack of concentration.
It is therefore important to take regular breaks and to supply the body with new energy in good time, for example with a balanced meal. In this way the ability to concentrate can be increased again.
Help with concentration difficulties
The brain can be trained similar to a muscle. Crossword puzzles and memory games are just as suitable as Sudoku or Mahjong if you do them at least two to three times a week, but preferably daily, for about one hour each time. We should also incorporate exercise into our everyday life to improve performance: Studies show that we can learn something easier and faster by heart if we move up and down.
If our brain works better, it also increases our concentration, which in turn enables us to complete our tasks in less time and without distractions. To achieve this, the brain not only needs a lot of energy, but this energy must also be optimally distributed. The following general tips will help you achieve this:
1. Nutrition is the most important factor
Our brain works much better with the right food and thus ensures that our concentration does not let us down. A piece of dextrose or a chocolate bar may provide us with short-term energy and wake us up, because they cause the blood sugar level to rise. Just as quickly, however, the blood sugar level drops again and thus causes tiredness and concentration problems.
It is true that the brain generally needs sugar, but it makes much more sense for the body to be able to draw it from the so-called long-chain carbohydrates (e.g. in wholemeal products). The energy from this sugar is much more sustainable and can permanently increase our concentration. The following foods are suitable for a good concentration:
- Water: Only those who drink enough can ensure good oxygen transport through the body. Two to three liters per person should be consumed daily.
- Nuts, sea fish, linseed oil: They contain valuable unsaturated fatty acids such as omgea-3 fatty acid, which improves the exchange between nerves and is therefore indispensable for learning and working. Since our body cannot produce these fatty acids itself, they must be taken in with food.
- Vitamins: Vitamin C, A and beta-carotene protect the brain from dangerous free radicals that can damage the cells. Vitamins are mainly found in fruits and vegetables. The focus of our nutrition should be here however on the vegetable, because with fruit one should consider that it contains much fruit sugar. Vegetable sticks, e.g. from carrots, peppers and cucumbers, on the other hand, are optimal energy suppliers for the brain and ensure the right concentration.
You do not have to do without them completely, but these foods should only be on the menu in moderation if you want to increase your concentration:
- Fast food/ready meals
- Sugary beverages
Further tips on nutrition
Just as important for good concentration is to cook as freshly and regionally as possible – this is also how to avoid resorting too often to fast food and the like. In addition, negative additives such as colorants and artificial flavors can also be avoided if you cook yourself. And: Five smaller meals spread over the day are more likely to ensure a good energy supply for the brain than three large ones.
Anyone who moves increases the blood circulation – including that of the brain. This supplies it with oxygen, which helps us to stay concentrated. There should be at least one long walk a day, plus at best three times a week a sports session of at least 30 minutes.
During sleep our brain processes all the information of the day and regenerates itself. Newly learned information can only be anchored in long-term memory if we get enough sleep. Most people need at least seven to eight hours of sleep per night for this. Only those who sleep enough can do something for their concentration in the long term.
Stress is not only a motivation killer, all the worries and hardships of everyday life that burden us also provide distractions that make it almost impossible for us to concentrate. To reduce stress, there are various possibilities like autogenic training or progressive muscle relaxation. The right stress management can also create better concentration.
5. Breathing exercises
Letting the breath flow consciously keeps the brain in order and supplies it with more oxygen, which improves concentration and reduces stress. The best way to do this is to set yourself a daily time window of about ten minutes in which you breathe deeply through your nose into your stomach and out through your mouth. It is best to sit in a quiet environment to avoid distractions.
Meditation is the ideal pause that helps us to calm our thoughts and get away from all distractions. Studies also show that the hippocampus, which is responsible for memory and learning processes in the brain, grows through regular meditation. How to learn meditation is explained here – it’s worth taking a look to increase concentration!
Even if many people like to brag about being able to master multitasking, it is not really suitable for concentrated and above all error-free work because you have to distribute your attention to several tasks at the same time. Better: Concentrate on one task and check emails only once an hour, for example.
Looking at the smartphone from time to time while working has become part of the daily routine for most people. The permanent availability puts us under pressure and stress. In order to be able to really work with concentration, cell phone breaks are indispensable. The best thing to do is to place your smartphone in the drawer in silent mode and allow yourself to check it once an hour at most. This improves concentration immediately.
9. Motor skills
Anyone who sits for hours sunk together on his desk chair not only damages his muscles and risks neck and back pain, but also the mental focus on the current task quickly diminishes. Slight movements cushion the effect of the decreasing concentration – often it is enough to get up for a few minutes for short breaks and walk around or change the sitting position. Also effective: Extensive stretching. This involves stretching your arms and legs straight out and thereby pulling yourself as far apart as possible.