Poor concentration is something that we all suffer from time to time, but there is no need to worry. There are some great natural remedies and tricks available to help boost your concentration and memory, including the six simple ways outlined below.
1. Look at Your Diet
The brain has some very specific nutritional requirements to keep it functioning at its best.
- Eat breakfast everyday. The brain needs a steady supply of glucose and studies have shown that people that skip breakfast have reduced performance at school or work. A diet that is high in fibre has been associated with less age-related brain function impairment.
- Eat a diet that is rich in monounsaturated fatty acids can help to protect the brain against age-related cognitive decline. Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids have been shown to be especially good for this. The theory behind eating essential fatty acids is that the brain is made up of 60 percent fats – and these need to be replenished. Foods that are high in antioxidants will reduce free radical damage in the brain and help to slow age-related cognitive decline.
- Acetyl l-carnitine (ALC) protects against brain degeneration, helps with the energy production in the mitochondria of cells, and removes toxins from the mitochondria. Supplementation with ALC can significantly improve memory, mood, and responses to stress.
- Phosphatidylserine (PS) is the most abundant phospholid in the brain and it is critical for maintaining the structure and functionality of brain cells. It encourages the regrowth of damaged nerve networks and supplementing with PS can benefit memory, learning, concentration, word choice, mood, and the capacity to cope with stress. Other supplements that may help include vitamin B6, vitamin B12, nicotinic acid, and melatonin.
2. Try Herbal Medicine
There are several herbs that can help with concentration:
- Huperzia serrata – a Chinese herb that can improve cognitive function and memory.
- Bacopa monnieri – can improve higher order cognitive processes and memory.
- Gingko biloba – is a well established treatment in the early stages of age-related mental decline. It can stabilise and improve cognitive performance.
- Vinpocetine – is derived from the herb lesser periwinkle and it enhances brain circulation and oxygen usage. It also protects the brain from degeneration and a lack of oxygen.
- Skullcap – is traditionally used to ease feelings of being overwhelmed, and helps to promote the natural equilibrium normally present in the mind.
- German chamomile – relieves occasional nervous tension and gently soothes and lessens frustration caused by overwork and fatigue.
- Gotu cola – is a tonic used to support a healthy brain and nervous system. It is used to promote mental clarity, memory, brain function, and to balance mood.
- Avina sativa – can alleviate common nervous irritability.
- Urtica urens – maintains blood sugar levels that are already in the normal range and can also help to maintain the circulatory system.
- Rooibos – maintains blood sugar levels and the circulatory system, as well as promoting a relaxed feeling and balancing mood fluctuations.
3. Get Plenty of Sleep
It is vital that you get enough sleep. A lack of sleep can result in a decline in planning, problem-solving skills, learning, concentration, learning memory, and alertness. In fact, if you have been awake for 21 hours straight, you have the same mental abilities as someone that is legally drunk! Luckily, this is reversible. Try and grab an extra hour or two of sleep if you are not getting enough of a nighttime. This extra sleep allows you to concentrate better, which then has additional benefits for your overall mental performance.
4. Work Up a Sweat
Exercise can also help with concentration. Even a moderate half hour walk three times a week can improve your concentration abilities, as well as your learning and abstract reasoning skills. The exercise helps to get extra oxygen to your brain, which can then use it to boost your mental powers. Exercise can also promote the growth of new brain cells and it is, in fact, one of the best ways to do so. The effects seem to be strongest on the hippocampus, the region of the brain that is associated with learning and memory. It is also the region that is damaged by the stress hormone cortisol, so if you are feeling stressed, exercise can help relieve the amount and effects of cortisol. Yoga is also helpful as it has the ability to change your mood – excellent if you are feeling stressed out!
There are different ways of meditating but the common goal is to quiet the mind. Meditation is vital for combating stress, understanding more about yourself, and improving your health. Meditation can help you to rid your mind of extraneous thoughts, helping you to concentrate more on the matter on hand. The best part about meditation is that it can be done anywhere at any time, for it can be as simple as deep breathing and relaxing the muscles in the body.
Neurofeedback grew out of biofeedback. Biofeedback is concerned with teaching people how to control the seemingly uncontrollable aspects of their body such as their heart rate. Neurofeedback operates on similar principles, except that the technique is applied to the brain or, more specifically, brain wave activity. The first attempts at using this therapy were to increase the size of the alpha wave, which peaks when we are calm and focused. Neurofeedback can improve memory and also make people feel calmer.