Exercises to improve focus

By JOHNNY CARCIOPPOLO / Community Columnist

When TV newscaster Diane Sawyer was asked the secret to her success, she said, “I think the one lesson I’ve learned is there is no substitute for paying attention.” Did you know improving your focus can be done with different types of simple exercises? It’s true. Something as simple as getting exercise on a daily basis or chewing gum can improve your brain function, which leads to better focus. Most of the time, focus exercises take less than 10 minutes to do.

Check out these to get you started:

  • Mutter to yourself. It might seem like you’re crazy, but talking to yourself either out loud or not, helps you pay attention, calms you emotionally and tells you to act.
  • Trade your caffeine for cardio. Caffeine gives you a boost, which makes it easier to concentrate. But you might find it harder to focus when you’re not buzzed. A better way to keep your mind stimulated is with physical exercise. Exercise triggers the release of chemicals in the brain that affect our learning and memory, which in the end are what help us focus.
  • Drink more water. Mild dehydration can lead to distraction. Being even as little as 2 percent dehydrated can affect your ability to concentrate on cognitive activities.
  • Get plenty of shut-eye. Getting at least seven hours of good quality sleep each night helps your body and mind rejuvenate and leads to better concentration and focus during the day.

Here are some concentration exercises taken from the Success Consciousness website:

  • Count the words in any paragraph from a book. Count them again. Repeat until it’s easy.
  • Now count the words in two paragraphs. Repeat until it becomes easy. Finally count all the words on the page. Count mentally and with your eyes only. Don’t use your finger to point to each word.
  • Count from 100 backwards to one.
  • Count backwards from 100, by threes, for example: 100, 97, 94 and so on.
  • Pick an inspiring word or simple sound. Repeat it silently for five minutes. When this becomes easy, try doing it for 10 minutes continually.
  • Hold a piece of fruit in your hands. Examine it, keeping your entire attention focused on the fruit. Just focus on the fruit, ignoring other thoughts. Examine its shape, the smell of it, its texture when you touch it and how it tastes.
  • Visualize a piece of fruit. First examine a piece of fruit for two minutes. Then close your eyes and visualize how it feels, looks and smells. Try to visualize a clear image. If the image gets blurry, look at the fruit again for a few seconds, then close your eyes and try to visualize it again.

It’s never been harder to stay focused than at this time in history. We are distracted by technology and everything happening around us. You can regain focus though by doing different exercises that can help you build your concentration.