Overcome the Struggle to Concentrate

How many of us can boast of the ability to pay undivided attention to a piece of work or any reading material, especially if it is academic? How many times did you miss the professor’s notes during a lecture? 

Novels or articles that are in our areas of interest might still keep us gripped for a while, but have any of you noticed just how long you can keep reading without letting your mind wander?

Has anyone sullied you, compared you to a goldfish, and said the fish had better memories? 

We have read articles or heard these in several programs. Almost all human beings are challenged to concentrate for a little more than a few seconds. Anyone who can concentrate on anything for longer than a minute should consider themselves fortunate. 

But a BBC writeup busts this myth. Our attention span might not be shrinking, but we all differ in how long we can stretch our attentions. And what you are involved in speaks volumes for how interested you are in it.

You are apparently not going to be as engrossed in a lecture or a journal as you would be in your favorite novel or show. Your buddy will surely hold your attention longer than your mom or your professor.

How can you improve your concentration? 

We all would love to augment our engagement in the class of course. A few tried and tested exercises might surely make the difference between losing 90% of the lecture to retaining at least 50%.

Self-control

The first step is discipline. Unless you willingly work on enhancing your concentration, anything you try will make little difference. 

Easier said than done?

Visualize what you will gain every time you are tempted to withdraw. Work on keeping your resolve strong. 

Set your goal and tell your family and friends about it. Let them remind you of your goal in case you stray.

Take it slowly

You will have to work your way up gradually. Nothing changes overnight. 

Start by reading a 500-word article without letting your mind wander. Summarize what you just read and compare with the article to see how much you have captured and what you missed. After a week, try this by reading a 600-word writeup. Repeat the process, and keep increasing the length of the article.  

Alternatively, set a timer on your watch during a class. Start with 5 minutes. Focus on the lecture. Record these 5 minutes of the lecture. In case you need permission for recording this, you will have to go through the right channels. After the class, write down the points covered in these 5 minutes and compare it with the recording. You can increase the timing from 5 to 6 minutes, and then keep increasing it gradually over a period of time.  

Detox from distractions

We now have several reasons for distractions. Social media would top the list. If a text or a tweet distracts you, keep it muted when you have a task in hand.

Some people have benefitted immensely by switching off the Wi-Fi and data on their phones on a particular day. You could turn them all off on alternate days, or during the day, or whatever works for you. 

Learn by heart

Memorizing is an exercise that will keep you absorbed. Awareness of the lesson is automatic when you engage in memorizing it. 

Workout

You are aware of the advantages of physical exercises like improved muscle strength, fitness, endurance, well-toned body, great appearance, enhanced blood circulation, and general well-being. Another crucial boost is the mental makeup of a well exercised person.

Some studies have concluded that that students who are engaged in moderate physical exercises before taking a test that measured attention spans performed better than students who had not done any physical exercise.

Meditation 

Several studies point to improved physical, mental, and emotional health benefits from meditation. 

  • Increases attention span

  • Reduced stress
  • Controls anxiety
  • Enhances emotional health
  • Improves self-awareness
  • Promotes sound sleep
  • Aids in pain management

There are many more claims, but the above points are proven facts as perks of meditation.

Hindus have been practicing the Gayatri Mantra as a concentration exercise for several millennia, and swear by its positive effects. 

Gaming 

Finally, you say, this is what is an enjoyable activity. Now you can’t wait to tell your mom you are working on your memory when you are playing your Nintendo.

Do video games improve concentration and increase attention span?

A recent study showed a certain type of brain training game called n-back can improve working memory – an important aspect of attention – and that improvement can crossover to other cognitive challenges.

A German study says that playing video games directly affects and impacts regions of the brain responsible for memory, spatial orientation, information organizations, and fine motor skills.

But there is another study that says that while certain brain training games can boost attention levels, those gains do not crossover to other areas of life. These games can help people pay better attention and do better at brain training games, but they won’t help people pay better attention in class or while studying.

The jury is still out on whether these brain games will improve attention spans. But there is nothing to suggest it hurts! So, go ahead and play away!

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