Healthy Living

Factors that Affect Focus and Retention

Do the “Monday Blues” seem to continue through the work week? Do you find your mind drifting off, or becoming easily distracted by cute cat videos online? Chances are, you’re not alone. It’s a near universal experience that we as humans deal with daily – having trouble focusing. While the specifics are different based on the individual, at some point in our work day or school work, we become less focused. We find our minds dozing off on to something else.

While the daily grind of work or academics can play a factor in issues with focusing and retention, there are other explanations as to why you have trouble focusing.

Hunger & Poor Nutrition

  • Weight loss diets are notoriously bad for focus and concentration. Low-fat diets can ruin focus because the brain needs certain essential fatty acids. But not getting enough protein is bad, too.
  • Processed foods lead to blood sugar spikes and crashes that destroy focus. And if you don’t get essential vitamins, like B and D, and minerals, your ability to concentrate will worsen over time.
  • Hunger is tied directly to low blood sugar, which quickly leads to fatigue and low energy levels that wreak havoc on your ability to focus.
  • Dehydration can lead to other symptoms that in turn reduce focus, including headache symptoms, fatigue and low mood.

Lack of Sleep

  • If you don’t get enough sleep — even for just one night— your thought processes can slow down, you’re less alert than normal and your ability to concentrate suffers. You can become confused to the point where you can’t perform tasks requiring complex thought.
  • It’s also hard to remember and learn new things if you’re sleepy, and that also affects focus negatively. Inadequate sleep also cuts into working memory, an important part of focusing. It makes you less vigilant and reduces both your accuracy and speed on mental tasks.
  • If your sleep problems become chronic and long-term, your reduced ability to focus can become your new normal, which can negatively affect you.

Stress & Lack of Physical Activity

  • Ongoing stress churns up deep internal distress that short-circuits important cognitive functions. Emotional stress can be just as bad. Job worries, relationship issues and health concerns can make it hard to concentrate.
  • When you become mentally exhausted, you eventually will have difficulties with concentration and attention. If you must re-read things a lot because you can’t focus, your work may not get done, and can cause more stress.
  • If you don’t exercise, you won’t know how deeply your ability to focus is affected until you get moving.
  • One study showed that three months of aerobic exercise was linked to the creation of new neurons, and broader and deeper interconnections between them.

These points can seem like a lot, and it can be safe to assume we’re guilty of doing one or two of the points mentioned above. But with the right attitude, it can be easy to improve your focus and retention abilities! Here are a few ways to go about that:

Improve Your Diet

  • You can improve your ability to focus by shifting your diet toward eating healthy foods. Consistently eating foods that support healthy brain function increases concentration and can even help you have more patience with distractions.
  • Moderate amounts of lean protein, fill your plate with lots of vegetables and fruit. Add whole grains and use olive oil to cook instead of butter.
  • Eat a good breakfast to send a message to your body that it’s going to get the fuel it needs. You will be less stressed physically and better able to remain focused.
  • Having enough water in your system throughout the day can help ensure good focus. Thirst isn’t the best measure of fluid status, so lack of focus can be an important early indicator of dehydration.

Stress Reduction

  • You can limit the effects of stress on your ability to focus by simply taking a break at midday and doing absolutely nothing for a solid five minutes.
  • Taking a break physically disrupts the pattern of stress-building and can help you recover your focus or prevent it from being lost.

Plenty of Rest & Exercise

  • For most people, anything less than 7 hours eats into a specific stage known as delta, or slow-wave sleep, which will make it hard to focus when we’re awake.
  • Take naps only when necessary, especially if you have trouble getting to sleep at night.
  • If you haven’t slept well for a long period, use the weekend to catch up by heading to bed earlier and letting yourself wake up naturally.
  • Exercise can do wonderful things for focus. Just one session can improve mental focus and cognitive performance for any task you’re trying to complete.
  • Aerobic exercise can improve functioning in the brain areas related to attention. A short, intense session of running in place speeds circulation to the brain and improves focus fast.

These are just a few ways to try and improve your focus and retention. It’s a learning process, so it’s important to figure out what works best for you, and to stick to it! Additionally, Canna Hemp offers a line of Focus-related products, such as the CBD Elixir Focus and CBD Vape Pen Focus. If you would like to try either of these products to see if they can help you, visit the pages at these links:

CBD Vape Pen Focus

CBD Elixir Focus

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