Do you sit down to work or study and almost immediately your mind begins to wander, or do you catch yourself reaching for your phone to scroll mindlessly through social media? If so, you have probably wondered, “Why can’t I focus on anything and stay on task?”. Believe it or not, there are many things that can affect your concentration. Health issues, habits, and medications can all affect your focus.
Medical Conditions and Focus Problems
If you can’t focus, you could have a health issue that may be causing your short attention span. If you can’t concentrate, you may have one of the following medical conditions:
- ADHD – Attention Deficit / Hyperactivity Disorder
ADHD is a disorder that impacts your brain and your ability to pay attention. Individuals with ADHD have difficulty controlling their behaviors or sitting still. In adults, ADHD can lead to impulsiveness, substance abuse, procrastination, mood swings, and difficulties staying focused. Many people think that ADHD is only a childhood problem; however, it is reported that over 10 million American adults have attention deficit / hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Adults with ADHD can have difficulty maintaining focus and attention, they may have memory difficulties and make careless mistakes. They may be disorganized, easily distracted, or fidgety. Finally, ADHD can cause an adult to interrupt often, have difficulty following instructions, and talk excessively.
Depression is much more than just feeling blue, sad, lonely, or depressed. It impacts your brain chemicals as well as the areas of the brain that handle your decision-making skills, memory, and attention. If you are experiencing depression, you may have trouble focusing.
- General Anxiety Disorder
General anxiety disorder is a mood disorder that can affect your focus. When you suffer from this condition, you can experience mood swings, live in constant fear, experience indecisiveness, and battle with anxiety. Anxiety can make it difficult to pay attention and stay on task as worry and fear keep the mind addled.
- Sleep Problems
When you are tired and haven’t gotten a good night’s sleep, you are more likely to have focus issues. During sleep, memories consolidate, hormones are made, and brain tissues recover. When you do not get enough rest, your brain will not function as well as it normally does. When you suffer from sleep problems and do not get the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep, it can be difficult to focus and ignore distractions.
- Thyroid Issues
The hormones created by your thyroid gland are responsible for a variety of bodily functions. Thyroid problems have been associated with excess fatigue, mood swings, hyperactivity, anxiety, sleep problems, heat sensitivity, diarrhea, and weakness. When your thyroid is not functioning properly, you can also have issues concentrating.
Other Things That Affect Your Focus
In addition to medical conditions, there are a number of other things that can reduce your attention span. If you are asking yourself, “Why can’t I concentrate?”, check out the following list of things that can affect your attention.
- Chronic Stress
Chronic stress causes your body to go into fight or flight mode. When this occurs, certain functions in the body begin slowing down. The area of the brain responsible for thinking and attention does not get the energy it did before you experienced your stress levels. This can lead to focusing problems.
When you are hungry, it can cause focus issues. Your body and brain need energy to function properly. When you are hungry, your glucose levels can suddenly drop and cause a variety of concentration issues. The next time you say to yourself, I can’t focus, try eating a healthy snack filled with plenty of protein to nourish your brain and improve your concentration.
Various medications can alter your body chemistry and how brain chemicals work. Some medicines can affect your memory and cause you to lose focus. If you are taking medication for the following conditions and are experiencing focus issues, you should speak to your doctor.
– Muscle Spasms
– Sleep Problems
Multitasking involves trying to juggle multiple things at one time. Although it may seem like this is a great way to accomplish many things at one time, it has been shown that multitasking can reduce efficiency and increase the likelihood of making mistakes. Being unable to focus on one task at a time can decrease your concentration. In fact, studies have shown that multitasking can reduce your productivity by as much as 40 percent.
How to Improve Your Focus
I can’t concentrate is one of the most common complaints by busy professionals. Oftentimes, you are pulled in different directions and have many different distractions. There are many ways to improve your focus naturally. Making these changes may help to strengthen your concentration.
- Create a Sleep Schedule
Getting enough sleep is vital to your brain health. If you are having difficulty remaining on task, it may be time to develop a sleep schedule and a bedtime routine. First, consider what time you need to wake up in the morning. Then, determine your bedtime. You need to get at least 7 hours of sleep each night. Creating a bedtime routine that includes turning off electronics and lowering the lights an hour or two before bedtime, lowering the temperature in your home by a few degrees, and using room darkening shades or curtains will help you get the rest your body needs.
- Healthy Diet
A healthy diet that includes fiber rich foods, lean proteins, and healthy fats helps to reduce hunger and regulate your blood glucose levels. Eat a variety of fruits and vegetables with each meal. You want to ensure that you are nourishing your brain with the nutrients your brain needs to function. Some of the most important vitamins and minerals include B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin E, and magnesium.
- Reduce Inflammation
Most people think inflammation is bad; however, it is actually a healthy part of the immune system. When you injure your body or have an infection, your immune system activates inflammation to help protect the body from further damage. If the immune system is not functioning properly, it can cause chronic systemic inflammation. When this occurs, it can lead to a number of issues including illness, disease, memory issues, focus problems, and concentration difficulties.
- Remove Distractions
When you need to concentrate, find a quiet area away from distractions. Distractions can range from background noise like a radio or television to clutter around your work area. Clutter can affect your brain’s ability to process information and focus on the task at hand. Limiting distracting things in your work area is key to improving your focus. Finally, turn off the notifications on your phone, and uninstall games and other addicting apps.
- Regular Exercise
Exercise offers a plethora of benefits, including reducing inflammation, easing stress, improving your sleep patterns, and blowing off steam. In addition to this, exercise encourages new brain cells. For best results, you should get at least 30 minutes of moderate exercise on most days to improve your brain health, focus, and memory.
- Rosemary Essential Oil
Rosemary essential oil is one of the best essential oils to use for improved focus. The essence of rosemary is filled with oxide rich vibrant smells that support your memory and relieve mental exhaustion. It helps improve accuracy and speed when dealing with cognitive tasks, helps relieve mental fatigue, and clears the mind.
- Schedule Blocks of Time for Your Tasks
Do you have several things screaming for your attention? One of the best ways to improve your focus is to create a schedule for each task. Block of time in the morning and afternoon for answering emails and returning phone calls. This will prevent you from switching tasks and becoming distracted.
- Stress Reduction
Stress relieving techniques like yoga and meditation help to improve your concentration and focus. Meditation teaches you how to focus your thoughts internally which calms your body and your mind. By learning how to decrease mental chatter, you can learn how to stay on task.
Everyone has difficulty staying on task from time to time. Today’s technologically driven world is filled with distractions, which can make it difficult to maintain your focus. In addition to this, medications and medical conditions can reduce your ability to remain on task and concentrate. Here you will find several tips to help you increase your focus.
Concentration difficulties can be the body and mind’s way of letting us know that one of your needs is not being met. For example, you may be filling your body with unhealthy processed foods and sugary foods that do not provide nutrition and lead to chronic inflammation. Changing your diet can help nourish your brain and improve your focus.
If you are ready to learn why you can’t focus or concentrate, we are here to help. Our team of functional medicine clinicians use the latest testing protocols, supplements or medications along with age old remedies to help improve your focus and concentration. With our help, you can stop asking yourself, “why can’t I focus.?”, and begin maintaining your concentration for a successful life.