Developing and maintaining a strong sense of focus can be difficult for many people, as we live in a fast-paced society in which multi-tasking is encouraged or even enforced. Those living with certain mental and physical disorders that cause or contribute to a struggle to focus often have to adopt new approaches for how to stay focused.
However, many people can benefit from trying various mental focus techniques.
What Is Mental Focus?
There is no hard-and-fast clinical definition for mental focus. Focus can wax and wane under a variety of circumstances. Let’s think about our daily work routine. Regardless of whether we work as an office assistant, construction worker, or a home-based freelancer, we probably have a certain structure to our working day that we try to follow. When we are able to follow it without any interruptions, our mental focus is sharp.
However, for many of us, life is not so distraction-free. Whether we’re feeling compelled to check our e-mail or voicemail or just can’t focus on finishing the last few chapters of a book we’ve been reading for a few hours, there are things that cause our attention to stray.
Mental focus, as some proclaim, is the hidden key to opening the door of success. When we are focused, we are able to better achieve our goals than when we are constantly sidetracked by our distractions.
Symptoms That Cause a Loss of Focus
So, how are we supposed to know if we are experiencing a lack or loss of focus? There are a few crucial factors to be aware of, including:
- Difficulty sitting still for more than a few minutes;
- Struggling to remember things we were doing a short while ago;
- Frequently making careless mistakes;
- Diverting attention to non-priority tasks;
- Struggling to execute complex tasks;
- Feeling physically or mentally exhausted.
Remember, our bodies are all a bit different. So, these symptoms might not manifest the same way in every individual.
What Causes a Lack of Focus?
Many physical, mental, and emotional issues can lead to a lack or loss of focus. Lifestyle habits or changes (especially stress or emotional trauma) can lead to deficiencies in focusing abilities. Being unable to maintain a steady focus can be considered part of chronic conditions, including:
- Restless leg syndrome (RLS);
- Autoimmune diseases (such as Sjogren’s Syndrome, Lupus, and Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis);
- Major depression;
- Cushing syndrome;
- Chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS);
- Attention deficit disorder (ADD);
- Various forms of dementia.
Not everyone who experiences any of these conditions will also suffer from loss of focus. But it is a common factor in these conditions.
Sensory and Emotional Distractions
Finding the root cause(s) of a lack/loss of focus can be difficult. But psychologists tend to agree that there are two main types of distractions that universally occur. Distractions tend to be either sensory or emotional.
Many of us struggle with learning how to stay focused because the reflective aspect of our brains can only process so much information at once. Think about what happens when our cell phone gets overloaded with data; it fails to work properly and seems confused. We, too, operate in a similar way. The human brain is constantly bombarded with new information, tasks, and demands that make us lose sight of remembering how to stay focused.
Identifying and Removing Distractions
One of the biggest steps we can take in figuring out how to stay focused is to first identify your distractions.
- Are we constantly checking Facebook while on the clock?
- Does loud noise easily break our concentration?
- When we catch ourselves getting distracted, let’s take a moment to think about what is distracting us. Let’s ask ourselves why it is such a distraction.
Removing the distraction is the second step to take in figuring out how to stay focused on a task. Sensory distractions are often tangible in our environments and can be ignored or physically removed. Emotional distractions, however, are more difficult to deal with since just putting off whatever is weighing on our emotions can make things worse, not better. Being mindful of our emotions and dealing with them as they arise can help with how to stay focused.
Options For Regaining and Maintaining Focus
There are quite a few different options out there for ways to regain focus and essentially train our brain to remain in that state.
- One of the most helpful ways is to simply take time out of our day to meditate. Meditation allows us to draw your focus inward, and we can ease our minds by entering into a state of pure consciousness. Guided meditations are available on sites like YouTube and can be done from the comfort of our own home.
- Similarly, yoga offers an opportunity for us to train our mind while training our body. Since the focus is on controlling our breath in order to do one movement at a time, making yoga a daily routine can help to increase our focus.
- Decluttering your mind also means decluttering our space. Is the desk barely visible under a pile of papers, pens, folders, and food wrappers? A little bit of organized chaos is fine. But too much clutter can make us feel disorganized and cause us to lose focus. Let’s organize our space in a way that makes us feel comfortable, and hold ourselves responsible for keeping it that way.
To the Point
If one struggles with holding himself/herself responsible, they try downloading an awareness chime app onto their smartphone. These apps will issue calming chimes throughout the day to remind us to stay focused on our tasks for the day. We can also try snapping our fingers or developing our own self-reminding habit to help us stay focused.
Learning how to stay focused does not happen overnight. Moreover, certain chronic conditions will require medical treatment that can help. However, there are plenty of ways to keep ourselves on track during the day. Cultivating our routine and decluttering our mind and physical space are essential for creating and maintaining our mental focus and clarity.
Images from depositphotos.com.