Improve Attention – Tips to Improve Your Attention/Focus
At every moment of our lives, our senses transmit information from the outside world to our brain, from which the brain filters the important ones. Then the brain responds to the information or data it filtered and converts it into thoughts, words and feelings.
Stephen Williams, a professor at the Queensland Brain Institute, says- “If we try to give our full concentration, there are certain actions going on in our brains that help us to stay focused and clear our minds”. According to him, there is a process that helps to send signals to the subject we want to focus or pay attention to. But the process is still indefinite”.
The following parts of this article will discuss the attention /focus process and the tactics to improve it.
What is Attention or Focus?
According to the results of a study published on the NCBI website, attention is directed or focused consciousness; it is a subjective personal sensation produced by the simultaneous activation of individual neurophysiologic systems. These include – awareness, alertness, excitement, influence, and attention span. The process begins with a sub-cortical scanning of sensory stimuli for effects and significance by the system of joy, pain and thought. At a later stage, the ideas are sent to the thalamic-prefrontal-thalamic reflex inhibitors for further scanning and aggregation in a single sensory system. Important concepts then activate the Engarm in the Posterior Inferior Temporal Cortex, Posterior Inferior Parietal Cortex and Posterior & Anterior Association Cortex. These areas project the Prefrontal Association Cortex (PAC). PAC deactivates sensitive scanning systems that create stability. The PAC transmits signals to the hippocampus which are generated by the hippocampal and septal and receives theta activity in the hippocampus. It has a momentary effect on the complete inhibition of orientation, alertness, awareness and excitement generated by theta activity through hypothalamus.
As a result of the above systems, only a sensory stimulus activates orientation, alertness, awareness, excitement, and cognitive mechanisms and therefore attention or concentration is generated.
Types of Attention
Attention or concentration are general concepts that can be distinguished on the basis of their use. These types of concentration are mentioned below –
- Internal Attention: This is the ability to concentrate on the processes and underlying activities of the brain itself.
- External Attention: This is the stimulus received from outside or surrounding information.
- Free Attention: These are some of the physical processes that help and facilitate the attention process. For example- to move one’s head closer or to look at something in order to pay better attention to an object or subject.
- Secret Attention: This happens when you do not pay attention to the stimuli in the brain.
- Selective Focus: This is the ability to select and focus on a stimulus. In this case, the brain ignores other irrelevant information or stimuli.
- Divided Attention: The ability to concentrate on multiple tasks at the same time. For example- listening to music while reading or doing other activities.
- Permanent Attention: The ability to retain the elements of attention and respond correctly.
- Visual Attention: Ability to focus on stimuli derived from the visual field. This ability is related to spatial information or direction.
- Auditory Attention: Ability to pay attention to stimuli derived from the auditory field. This ability relates to temporary information or directions.
Factors influencing Attention/Focus
Acting on multiple factors at once can cause confusion by affecting the attention/concentration of the brain. The causes of such confusion can be of two types- 1) external and 2) internal. These factors are mentioned below –
1) External factors-
The source of external distractions is usually the external environment which can make the attention process easier or harder. Let’s take a look at the causes of external distractions that affect the attention process.
- Intensity: The higher the intensity of external distraction, the more distraction the brain gets.
- Size: The larger the size of the external illusion, the more distraction occurs.
- Mobility: If the illusion is dynamic then it attracts more attention than permanent objects.
- Unique: We are most attracted to an extraordinary subject or object, because the novelty of such an object distracts the attention process to another subject and attracts more attention to it.
- Change: We are accustomed to a common object or subject and in the meanwhile it becomes tedious. In such cases, it is very easy to be distracted by a more attractive subject matter or content which is different from the ordinary. Therefore, if such a subject or object takes the form of distraction, it can easily interfere with the process of concentration in other functions.
- Color: Color attracts the mind. In the same way, color attracts more attention to itself, interfering with the attention process.
- Reverse symptomatic: While concentrating on the same kind of activities, if the opposite symptomatic subject or something different is confronted, it attracts more attention to itself playing the role of an effective distraction.
- Perceptual burden: Positive and negative stimuli receive more attention than neutral stimuli.
2) Internal factors-
These factors are completely personal. These come from a person’s will power and feelings. Such as-
- Interest: The work or subject in which we are most interested draws the most attention unlike less focused material on topics of less interest.
- Emotions: Intense emotional stimuli attract more attention. However, it can be observed that positive impulses help to concentrate on an action and in contrast negative impulses act erratically.
- The amount of effort required for a task: A person always pre-plans or calculates the amount of labor and time required to perform a task before performing it. There is a direct correlation between the amount of labor-time and a person’s interest in it. The more the interest the more the attention and in the same way, the less the interest, the less the attention.
- Physical condition: The physical condition of a person also affects the attention process. Illness, seizures, various physical ailments and stress can reduce the ability to concentrate. On the other hand, stimuli associated with satisfaction attract more attention.
- Monotonous Thoughts: When a strong thought is accompanied by many other thoughts, the stimulus associated with it receives the most attention.
How to improve Attention
Following are some methods to improve Attention process –
1) Train your brain:
Do things that require more attention/concentration. For example, games that require mental concentration such as chess, sudoku, crossword puzzle, puzzle solving, etc. can be used. According to a study published on the NCBI website, playing brain training games for at least 15 minutes a day for 5 days a week can help improve attention.
2) Read books:
In the case of children, reading a book with a mysterious and puzzling story strengthens the mind. Such stories force the brain to think and concentrate.
3) Take enough sleep:
A tired brain is unable to concentrate on any task. Therefore, adequate sleep has a positive effect on the attention process. Many scientific studies have shown that a person with a healthy body and mind needs 6 to 8 hours of sleep per day.
Daily exercise helps to improve attention. Maintaining physical activity also keeps the brain functioning smooth. It may not always be possible for everyone to take out time for exercise. Exercise is not possible in some physical conditions also. In this case, even the simple tasks you do on a daily basis can help you to increase your physical activity. For example, traveling for a short distance by walking instead of taking vehicles, minimizes the use of ultra modern machinery in day to day life. Thus, it is possible to work physically instead of relying on mechanical support for all tasks.
5) Spend time in nature:
Spending at least 20 to 30 minutes a day in nature helps to strengthen the concentration process. A study published on the NCBI website states that decorating workplaces with trees enhances concentration and productivity in the environment as well as keeps the minds of all workers happy.
You can go for daily morning walks or spend time in the garden. Doing so also strengthens the concentration of the brain.
Ancient ‘Yoga’ also supports meditation to improve attention. Meditation calms the mind, relieves stress and refreshes the brain. A fresh brain can concentrate more strongly. Mentally disturbed people find it difficult to concentrate on any task. This is according to a study by NCBI.
7) Take a Rest:
If you are already focused on a task for a long time, take a break from the task for a while. Listen to music, watch movies or do things you love. This will make the brain feel refreshed again. After that, when you continue your previous work, you will be able to focus better.
6) Eat nutritious food:
Food affects our body as well as our mental health. A well-nourished diet enhances brain function. This directly and positively affects the attention process. Excessive oily, fatty and high-sugar diets can have a negative effect on the daily normal functioning of the brain. Therefore, eat fruits, vegetables, fish, meat, eggs, etc. and maintain proper nutrition in the body.
It is also important to keep the body hydrated which affects the functioning of the brain.
9) Consume caffeinated products:
Caffeine refreshes the brain. Fresh brain helps increase concentration. Therefore, you can consume a limited amount of caffeinated products like tea, coffee, chocolate, green tea, etc. to strengthen the concentration of the brain.
10) Take supplements:
Some supplements such as folate, choline, Vitamin K, omega-3 fatty acids, flavonoids etc. help in strengthening the mental process. Although such supplements may help in the process, it is suggested to seek expert advice before consuming them.
*If you are suffering from an incurable disease or a special physical condition, do not take such supplements without consulting a doctor or a specialist.
If you have not been able to benefit from any of these methods, ask a psychiatrist for attention/concentration problems instead of depending on home remedies.
The above article informs you about the attention process of the human brain along with its types, influencing factors and home remedies to improve attention. We hope the information included in the article will help you in various ways. Thank You!