5 Tips to Focus Better
If you have depression, it's common find that you are struggling to concentrate. Other depression symptoms include feeling sad or "empty," decreased energy or fatigue, changes in appetite or weight, and losing interest in activities you once found enjoyable.
If you or a loved one is experiencing these symptoms, it's important to consider treatment. Confidant can connect you with mental health professionals in your area that can help.
In the meantime, if you want to be proactive about regaining your ability to focus, there are some practical strategies you can try that might make a real difference, especially when combined with a treatment plan.
Give Your Brain a Workout
Try some brain games to flex your mental muscles. Sudoku, crossword puzzles, and similar activities engage your mind, without the kind of pressure you might feel trying to at work or a school.
Consider carving a little time out of our day to make puzzles a regular practice. As with any workout, your concentration abilities will get stronger with practice.
Make Sleep a Priority
Make sure you're getting the right amount of quality sleep. Too much or too little can interfere with your ability to focus during your waking hours. Fatigue, restlessness, and sleeping too much or not enough are also symptoms of depression.
The National Sleep Foundation recommends these tips for getting on track with healthy sleep:
Set regular sleep and wake times, and stick to them, even on weekends.
Get some exposure to bright light soon after waking. Go outside or let some light in through a window, if you can.
Exercise with some physical activity every day.
Avoid afternoon naps, which can interfere with falling asleep at night.
Limit or avoid caffeine or alcohol. Both can disrupt sleep.
If these tips don't work, talk with a doctor. There could be an underlying medical issue.
Staying physically active promotes mental fitness, too. Start small, especially if you have a health condition or haven't been active for a while. Walking is an activity that just about anyone can do. But things like doing yard work, gardening, or playing with your kids count too.
Find an approach to fitness that works for you. Many people find it motivating to use a wearable fitness tracker that tallies the number of steps taken each day. Or, try some fitness classes -- there are even ones online that you can use in the privacy of your home.
There are mindfulness exercises specifically designed to target concentration. For instance, you might focus on one specific thing during a meditation session, notice when your mind wanders away from it, and then immediately refocus on it when that happens. Practice can help train your brain to concentrate more intently and effectively even when you're not meditating.
Try a Digital Detox
These days, it's easy to get caught up in endless scrolling through social media feeds, which can take a toll on your attention span. Give yourself a vacation from your tech or delete certain apps that may be taking up a lot of your time. You may notice improvements after even a short digital detox. That improvement might motivate you to at least limit your use going forward.
While these strategies can help you address difficulty concentrating, remember to be patient with yourself. Effective concentration takes practice and time.