Muriel Cooper
Psychologist in Mornington

Stress, anxiety and depression

 

concentration_problems

Can't concentrate?  Vague?  Unfocused?

It's frustrating when you need to get the job or the study done, and you just can't keep your brain on the job.

Why do we get this way?

The first factor is stress.  When we're stressed the substances we produce - like adreneline and cortisol - cross the blood brain barrier and we end up trying to think through brain-fog.

The second is multi-media distraction - now known as techno-stress.  Who can focus when bells and whistles are going off all over the place?  Television, email, mobile phone and text messaging.  No wonder we get distracted and unfocused.

The third is Boredom and lack of planning.  Boredom saps energy and not having a schedule of activity to stick to and jumping all over the place can fritter away energy and be exhausting.

Here are 5 important ways to conquer distraction and lack of focus ...

1.   Stress Less.

 Be mindful and self-aware always, whatever you are doing.  Watch yourself for tension and aches and pains and address them immediately by stretching, massaging your sore muscles, running your hands under the tap and splashing your face with cold water, have a drink of water or weak green tea.  As soon as you're aware of brain-fog - STOP - and refresh, just like you do when a web page gets tired and starts to malfunction - you refresh!

2.   Limit media stress.

Techno-stress can be mediated by doing a few simple things. Turn off the sound on your mobile phone and take off the email notification on your computer screen for a start.  Eliminate as many bells and whistles as possible.  Limit checking of social media to once on-the-hour for five minutes only; you can use this as a reward for focusing on your work.  Alternate hours with answering emails or text messages.  What is your priority?  If it's work or study, make it that!

3.   Don't multi-task.

Just because we can do four things at once doesn't mean we must.  Stick to doing one thing at a time - put all your focus on that one thing until you are finished, or ready to move on to the next thing. 

Be organised.  Have a plan and stick to it (including breaks, meals and refreshers).  Write it out and stick it on your computer; even have a timer go off when it's time to switch tasks ot take a break.

4.   Watch your energy (and substance intake).

Don't eat sweet or fatty foods that give  you energy spikes or make you feel clogged (and guilty).  Eat and snack on low Gi (Glycaemic index) foods that spread your energy out over your working or study period, like nuts, wholegrain chunky bread, pumpkin seeds and yoghurt.

Don't push yourself until you're tired/exhausted.  You will lose concentration and you will make mistakes.  Also if you're studying or reading documents, you won't remember what you've read.

Watch any drugs or substances you're taking.  Alcohol, certain types of drugs (including prescription drugs), and other substances can cause you to lose focus and lack concentration. 

Make sure you get plenty of water (not energy drinks or caffeine).

5.   Be interested!

Boredom is the enemy of productivity.  The more interested we are in what we are doing or reading - the more our brain will stay alert.  It doesn't matter if what you're working on isn't fascinating - if you pretend it is,  the brain will cooperate and keep you sparking.

Remember, what fires together wires together.  If you're not firing, you're probably not wiring so pay attention with enthusiasm.  Whether you're really interested, or not, your brain probably won't know the difference.  If you act bored, your brain will be bored.

Finally, if you continue to be fogged and fatigued, consult your doctor as they may be an underlying physical problem.  Seeing someone like me could help too.

Show comment form
­