How To Improve Your Focus
If you’ve been having difficulty focusing these days, you certainly aren’t alone. Research conducted by the Technical University of Denmark suggests our attention spans are waning on a global scale.¹ According to the study, the information age has not only saturated us with voluminous data but narrowed our collective attention span and ability to process it. Another survey found that digital notifications led to decreased focus, procrastination, and lower productivity.² But digital media is hardly “the root of all evil.” A variety of factors can hinder the ability to concentrate. Issues like fatigue, stress, sleep deprivation, poor diet, and dehydration all can alter mental acuity. Fortunately, healthy lifestyle choices, practical techniques, as well as natural supplements (such as CBD oil products) exist that may sharpen focus—thus improving efficiency and productivity.
Focus: What is it and why is it important?
Focus is the ability to bring your full attention to an individual object or activity to the exclusion of everything else. Internal and external stimuli become effectively tuned out as the task at hand occupies your full awareness. This level of concentration allows you to address every nuance and detail to complete your tasks meticulously. The ability to focus is also a critical aspect of learning and retaining knowledge!
Although it’s frequently associated with advanced age, poor mental focus can occur at any stage in life. Environmental factors—like a cluttered workspace, chatty co-workers, and/or excessive background noise—can make it quite hard to stay on task. Internal distractions can also be highly problematic. Stress, poor diet, physical pain, or lack of sleep can hinder the quality of any endeavors. So, identifying habits and/or factors that contribute to poor mental focus is vital to sharpen your mental focus and concentration.
Common Factors That Affect Focus
Lack of sleep can affect us in profound ways. Inadequate or interrupted sleep is linked to an increased risk of conditions like diabetes, heart disease, obesity, and both depression and anxiety. Poor sleep makes it really hard to focus, too. A recent study indicated that inadequate sleep can reduce our brain’s ability to filter external stimuli—thereby increasing distractibility.³ Lack of sleep is associated with deficits in cognitive performance (such as confusion and memory loss), also—which can make even the most mundane tasks feel cumbersome.⁴
Being well-rested is one of the best ways to improve your mental focus and concentration. About 7 to 9 hours of uninterrupted sleep for adults is considered a “good night’s sleep.” Sleep enables critical regenerative processes that can help our body + mind function at an optimal level. Healthy lifestyle choices, like establishing a sleep schedule and practicing good sleep hygiene, can help improve the quantity and quality of your rest. Practicing a variety of relaxation techniques for sleep can help you fall asleep faster and get the full hours you need. CBD supplements and CBD oil for sleep may also facilitate regenerative sleep and enhanced concentration.
Diets lacking in essential nutrients, vitamins, and minerals aren’t just bad for your body, they can also have a deleterious effect on your brain. Low-fat diets are thought to have a negative impact on our brain’s ability to function, and diets high in sugar and ultra-processed ingredients frequently result in blood sugar spikes and crashes that diminish our concentration levels.⁵ Additionally, deficiencies in vitamins and minerals (such as vitamin B & D) may contribute to poor focus. Hunger—which is linked to poor dietary habits—can also derail your ability to focus.⁶⁻⁷ Hunger is also associated with low blood sugar, which can lead to symptoms like fatigue, anxiety, irritability, and confusion.
Thankfully, an abundance of data suggests a healthy, balanced diet can fine tune the intricate workings of your body + mind. In addition to eating the rainbow, it’s important to incorporate plenty of “brain foods” into daily meals.⁸⁻⁹ Items such as fatty fish, berries, legumes, walnuts, and green leafy vegetables all contain essential vitamins and nutrients that enhance brain health (while boosting overall cognition).
Our bodies can’t function properly without adequate hydration. Dehydration can increase the risk of overheating, muscle/joint damage, headaches, and fatigue. A study from the Georgia Institute of Technology reported that about two hours of strenuous exercise in the heat without hydration can have a massive impact on the ability to concentrate.¹⁰
Proper hydration is vital to our survival. It regulates body temperature, keeps our muscles and joints lubricated, and distributes nutrients throughout our bodies. Nearly 60% of the human adult body is water—and our brain is actually composed of about 73% water.¹¹ All vital functioning of the brain—from cells to hormones and neurotransmitters—heavily rely on water. While there’s no hard and fast rule, it’s widely recommended that adults drink 12 to 16 cups of water minimum each day.¹² Adequate hydration can improve sleep, mood, and mental focus!
Unless you’re one of those unique “supertaskers” who complete simultaneous activities while remaining efficient, attempting to multitask may do more harm than good.¹³ Research indicates splintering our attention between multiple tasks reduces productivity by up to 40%.¹⁴ Studies also show spreading your attention too thin can decrease overall precision in completing tasks.¹⁵
Focusing on one thing at a time (or monotasking) may be the best way to go. It may seem daunting, especially if your to-do list seems to be never-ending, but a little research can help you uncover a task management method to suit your needs. One popular approach is called the Pomodoro Technique.¹⁶ This method is designed to help you complete activities/projects one “pomodoro” at a time. Each pomodoro consists of 25-minute segments of undivided focus—followed by a 5-minute break. After four pomodoros, you can take an extended break of 20 to 30 minutes—giving your brain time to rest and process information before the next set. This particular method is designed to help apply a laser focus on the task at hand (while preventing distraction and burnout).
High stress levels are counterproductive to maintaining good health and well being.¹⁷ Stress and anxiety increase cortisol and adrenaline levels in our brain.¹⁸ Chronic stress can lead to overexposure to cortisol and may adversely affect your memory, focus, and overall cognition.¹⁹ Learning how to keep stress under control is crucial to managing constant interruptions and maintaining overall brain function.
Although it may be impossible to completely avoid stress, there are certainly ways to cope with frequent stressors. Mindfulness and meditation practices have numerous holistic benefits that include boosting focus, improving mental acuity and fostering a sense of mental tranquility. Exercise and physical activity are also great avenues for managing stress, as well as improving focus and concentration.²⁰ In fact, there’s evidence that just one vigorous workout session can enhance learning and memory in young adults.²¹ And of course, sleep is critical to maintaining lower stress levels.²²
In many ways, mental focus is like a muscle—the more that you practice it, the stronger it becomes. Additional methods which may sharpen mental focus are:
- eliminating and/or minimizing distractions in your environment,
- reconnecting with nature,
- and creating a practical time management schedule.
With some hard work and determination, these healthy strategies and habits go a long way in boosting your ability to focus even when you feel challenged by constant interruptions!
How CBD May Help Improve Focus
Cannabidiol is widely known for reported pain-relieving, sedative properties; but it may also be effective in supporting mental focus.²³ After THC, Cannabidiol (also known as CBD) is one of the most prominent of the over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis—and is the primary cannabinoid within the hemp plant. Research suggests that CBD interacts directly with our endocannabinoid system (a complex system of cannabinoid receptors throughout the body, better known as the ECS) to produce a variety of effects—from encouraging relaxation to promoting pain relief.²⁴ Emerging data has indicated that the neuroprotective, anti-inflammatory properties of CBD may even promote brain health and enhanced cognition.²⁵⁻²⁶
Our wide range of high-quality offerings harnesses all the natural medicinal properties of CBD to help support our mental focus and concentration. Formulated with functional, secondary ingredients (such as cordyceps mushrooms, L-theanine, vitamin B12, and caffeine sourced from green coffee beans), CBD Energy Capsules are free of THC and designed to help encourage sustained focus and vitality. If pain is disrupting your concentration, our Pain Management & Recovery collection has a variety of effective topicals, tinctures, and softgels crafted to help your body better manage symptoms and help to refocus energy on the task at hand. Lazarus Naturals Sleep Health collection incorporates our robust blend of cannabinoids in our CBD oil tinctures and CBD capsules made with all-natural, active ingredients (such as melatonin, passion flower, and lemon balm) to promote restorative sleep—so your mind can fire on all cylinders. Check out our full product line to learn more about how CBD products can provide personalized support along your wellness journey!