Sometimes staying focused can feel like walking through mud with stilettos on; you spend all your effort to move forward but keep getting stuck. What can you do when you’re motivated to make progress, but your brain fails to cooperate?
We often think of focus as a measure of our productivity. But more importantly, how well we focus is a measure of our brain health and mental well-being.
Improving your focus is less about pushing through the tasks at hand and more about creating the best possible environment—in your office, your body, and your mind—for clear thinking. Here are a few tips to help you do that.
7 Simple Ways to Revive Your Brain and Boost Focus
1. Get a good night’s sleep.
The best way to improve your focus is to plan ahead—at least eight hours ahead, to be exact. Getting good quality sleep means you’ll be better equipped to stay focused, retain memories, problem solve, be creative, process emotions, and make decisions. If getting to bed on time or staying asleep through the night is an ongoing challenge for you, CBD oils for sleep may help.
2. Revive your eyes with massage.
If you work on a computer, excessive eye strain and work-related stress could be contributing to your lack of focus. An easy remedy is to “take five” for a quick revitalizing eye massage.
Start by simply closing your eyes and pressing lightly with your fingers on your upper eyelids. Gently massage them in a circular motion, 10 times clockwise, then 10 times counterclockwise. Then, using gentle but firm pressure, use the pads of your index, middle, and ring fingers to press along the eyebrows and out to the temples. Repeat along the orbital bone just below your eyes. This brings circulation to the eyes and brain while you enjoy a mini break.
3. Oxygenate your brain with breathwork.
Need a quick boost in focus? Practice your breathing. While breathwork has become a popular tool for reducing stress and anxiety, it can also help your brain function better.
Different breathing exercises can help you boost your focus in different ways. Try these the next time you need a mental breath of fresh air:
- 4-7-8 Breath: Improves focus by reducing stress and anxiety.
- Alternate nostril breathing: Balances the left and right brain for improved function.
- Ujjayi breathing: Improves concentration and general well-being.
4. Sip a “smart” beverage.
Do you find yourself mindlessly reaching for yet another cup of coffee to feel alert and focused? Consider trying something new. Coffee can perk you up, but it can also lead to dehydration and increased feelings of stress. Not exactly ideal for maintaining good brain health and focus. Instead, try one of these delicious, nutritious, and brain-boosting beverages:
Green tea contains caffeine to increase your alertness, but it also contains powerful antioxidants and phytochemicals (L-theanine and EGCG) that improve your brain function. Studies show these help enhance focus, memory, and mood.
Medicinal mushroom “coffee”
Medicinal mushrooms have been prized in ancient cultures for thousands of years. Now, these superfood fungi are scientifically proven to help the body adapt to stress and promote health. When it comes to enhancing brain function, lion’s mane mushroom takes the cake. This mushroom has neurotrophic properties that help boost focus, improve memory, and manage stress-related brain fog. For a tasty way to enjoy these benefits, swap your coffee for a lion’s mane latte.
5. Get in the zone with binaural beats.
A binaural beat is an auditory illusion that occurs in the brain when you listen to two tones with different frequencies at the same time (usually one in each ear). The resulting tone, the binaural beat, has a frequency that guides the brain into specific wavelengths. Different binaural beat frequencies can be used based on your focus goals:
8-14 Hz: Alpha Waves for Chill Focus
Use this binaural beat to relax, reduce stress, encourage positive thinking, and get into a state of flow.
14-30 Hz: Beta Waves for Productive Focus
Use this binaural beat for improved attention, analysis, problem-solving, and energy, as well as executing high-level cognitive tasks.
30-100 Hz: Gamma Waves for Power Focus
This binaural beat range supports cognitive enhancement, memory recall, attention to detail, innovative thinking, and creativity.
6. Ditch the distractions.
No amount of green tea or hours of sleep will help you stay focused if your environment constantly steals your attention. A study conducted by the University of California showed that it takes an average of 23 minutes for the brain to refocus after being interrupted. That means every phone notification, email, and chatty colleague can drastically reduce your ability to stay deeply focused.
There are many ways to reduce these distractions (like using “do not disturb” mode on your phone and setting boundaries) based on the specific distractions you face on a daily basis. A great place to start identifying and eliminating these focus-stealers is with Nir Eyal‘s book, Indistractible.
7. Step away.
Sometimes the best way to re-focus is to step away from the task at hand. A quick break can help reset your brain and give you a fresh perspective.
When possible, take your break outside. Studies show that spending as little as 10 minutes of time sitting or walking in nature can positively impact mental well-being. And the better you feel, the more focused you can be.
If you have flexibility in your schedule, a one-hour walk in nature can help improve your focus even more. Researchers found that those who enjoy a calming long walk in nature have decreased amygdala reactivity. This may prevent the “amygdala hijack” that occurs when stress overrides our logical brain, and we struggle to think and act with reason.
Tips like these are a great way to give your brain a focus boost. But the best way to support healthy brain function is by staying on top of your physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Getting plenty of rest, eating healthy foods, exercising, managing your stress, and enjoying hobbies that inspire you are the foundation for a focused day, every day.
Hannah Smith is Joy Organics Director of Communications. She is driven by her passion for providing clear and accessible wellness and CBD education. In 2015, she received her BA in Media, Culture and the Arts from The King’s College in New York City and before Joy Organics, worked as writer and photographer in the Middle East and North Africa. Her work has been featured on Forbes, Vice, Vox, Denver Post, and the Coloradoan.