A Brief Guide:
Improving Focus and Productivity
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Focus + Productivity are intrinsically linked. Without focus we cannot produce, without producing we can’t reach the goals we desire. The ability to focus and concentrate is essential in meeting our needs to learn and perform well across multiple different situations. In short, the difference between success and failure can often be attributed to our ability to focus. The good news is focus can be trained, much like a muscle and can be supported through some simple lifestyle choices.
Enhancing focus is by no means easy, otherwise, we’d all have razor-sharp focus. However, with some determined lifestyle changes, we can hone our ability to concentrate and do away with distractions that constantly delay our ability to reach our goals.
Lifestyle tweaks for a focused brain:
Exercise is everything – Studies have proven that exercise and movement are directly linked to optimal brain function. Exercise is known to trigger the release of dopamine and serotonin both neurotransmitters that regulate attention. There is no need to overcomplicate this, any exercise works, just do something you enjoy whether that be long walks, swimming, cycling - multiple times a week for 30 minutes or so.
Protein, protein, and a little more protein – Blood sugar otherwise known as glucose, powers our whole body. However, our brain requires a hefty share. In fact, it uses 20% of all the available glucose in our body. With this in mind, it’s vitally important that we keep our blood sugar levels stable in order to feed our neurons the glucose they require. Protein snacks in the form of nuts, seeds, yogurts, certain meats or vegan protein supplements are all viable options to achieve this.
Mindfulness – without demeaning the full scope of what mindfulness is defined as, for our purposes, it is simply the ability to focus on one object or task, without distraction. The brain is like a muscle and in turn, can be exercised. One of the best forms of exercise for this is meditation, which can be focused specifically on creating mental clarity, motivation. and focus. There are a number of apps out there that allow you to learn the basics of meditation and mindfulness such as headspace and calm. There are also some great studios in NY that we absolutely love like MNDFL and Inscape. Mindfulness is a gray area for many, but we really believe that if you explore further you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the effects such mindfulness exercises can have on one’s life. It’s important to note that meditation is NOT about eliminating your thoughts and not thinking. It’s about making small investments of time to get in touch with the mind/body connection and gain some perspective on your thoughts and desires.
DHA – This is an omega 3 fatty acid that is the primary component of the human brain, making up 25% of the fat in the brain. It is absolutely critical to healthy cognitive and functional performance and studies have shown how it helps with focus. Certain seafood’s have an abundance of DHA but also look out for vegan options such as seaweed, algae, flax, hemp or chia seeds to name a few.
Magnesium – We recently wrote about magnesium and its importance in detail, which we encourage you to read. Magnesium helps to relax the mind, providing a calm and relaxed state that allows us to focus more easily.
Through real effort and making the right lifestyle choices you can start to take better control over your brain’s ability to function at optimal levels. It’s by no means easy but small consistent steps such as the few outlined above will help. Above and beyond, get some sleep and drink lots of water… really, nothing good comes without healthy doses of both.
You’ve got this!