Do you struggle to focus? Me too! In fact, as a person with ADHD, I find focussing extremely difficult. Trying to stay focussed on a task and meet deadlines isn’t always, regardless of whether you have ADHD or not. Life can be busy and stressful and overwhelming and remaining focussed throughout it all can be a challenge. If you need some tips on what to do when you can’t focus, today’s post is full of great advice.
What To Do When You Can’t Focus
If you feel like you can’t focus, it’s more than just a minor annoyance. It can be a serious detractor to your quality of life. It can affect how well you can operate in your job, as a partner, and as a parent, and can get in the way of the kind of life that you’re trying to build. Here, we’re going to look at some of the reasons that you might have trouble focusing when it matters, and what you can do about it.
Ensure that there are no distractions in the way
First of all, you should consider looking at the environmental factors that might be getting in your way. If you’re trying to do work in an environment that may not really be suited for it, then naturally you’re going to have trouble focusing. You can look at ways to prevent excessive exposure to noise and visible distractions outside of your work area, and if you’re working at home, then you can ask your family members to be more respectful of your boundaries during work hours. There are also apps that you can use to block out websites and other tempting distractions that you might be liable to fall into, as well.
Pay attention to triggers
Distractions aren’t always just caused by being in an environment trying to distract you. You can find yourself distracted by mental triggers, as well. While often used to describe the circumstances related to PTSD and other stress reactions, psychological triggers can also be associated with lapses in focus and the like. If you can find out what your psychological triggers are, then not only can you avoid the things that might distract you from your work, but you might also be able to build up something of resilience to them. You can reduce their effectiveness, which is a strategy that is often employed as a part of mindfulness meditation. Becoming more aware of your own mental and emotional reactions may be able to afford you some control over them, as well.
Consult your medications
If you’re experiencing any recent and noticeable changes to your mood or mental acuity, then the first place that you should look is always in your own medicine cabinet. There are all kinds of medications that can affect your ability to focus and think clearly, such as benzodiazepines which can help treat anxiety or sleep disorders, sedatives of any kind, and even things like antihistamines which are designed to treat allergies. This doesn’t mean that you should go cold turkey off any medications that might be affecting your focus, but you should talk to your doctor about tapering your usage, and strategies that can help you better improve your focus without overly affecting other health issues that you’re trying to treat.
Ensure a healthy lifestyle
While it may seem like a solution that is recommended in the event of pretty much any kind of change in the brain or emotions (because it is that comprehensive and it is that important), getting a good night’s sleep, eating well, and exercising can be of especial importance to your ability to focus. If you don’t get the essential nutrients that can help maintain your brain health, then it should not be as much of a surprise that you’re not able to use them as well as you would hope to. You can also help to train your own brain to focus, such as with breathing exercises to help center you or taking a break to do stretches when you feel distraction creeping into your thoughts.
Manage your stress levels
Some of the tips above are not just good for helping with your focus, but they can also aid in battling the impacts of stress, as well. Stress is often a cause or exacerbating factor in matters of distraction and lost focus. When cortisol starts flowing, your body and brain can react in all manner of ways which can pull your attention away from whatever it is that you’re trying to do. There are plenty of effective ways to reduce stress that you should look at, such as mindfulness meditation, journaling, relaxation techniques, aromatherapy, or talking to someone. Of course, if stress is persistent or particularly acute, then you should also consider talking to a health professional about it.
Consider underlying mental health disorders
Stress isn’t just a feeling that can get in the way. Sometimes, it’s the symptom or part of an underlying mental health disorder that may also be affecting your ability to concentrate or focus on the task at hand. Stress and anxiety disorders are very common, but when we’re talking about difficulty with focusing, then attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is the most common and the most prescient. Since it’s most often spotted in kids, it can be harder to point the finger at when grown up, but it may be worth seeking ADHD testing for adults. Untreated ADHD can mean that many of the other solutions mentioned above may not be as effective. If you have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, then that’s an even greater sign of the likelihood of ADHD, as well.
Keep your brain active
Our brain, while not a muscle, can act just like one at times. If we don’t work out the different parts of it that we rely on, then they can become less reliable. This is especially true as we age and if we have been out of the educational environment for some time. To that end, you may want to look at ways to keep your brain active, such as by doing puzzles and brain training. If we work out the parts of our brains a little more, then we’re less likely to become frustrated and distracted when we try to rely on them.
A lack of focus isn’t a personal failure. It’s a problem that you’re experiencing and one that often has causes, roots, and environmental factors beyond your control. But hopefully, we’ve highlighted some of them and how you might be able to manage them.