What did the previous sentence say? What did I want to do again? What was it called... oh, a bird! Everyone suffers from them – some more frequently, others less so – but everyone finds them annoying: concentration problems. In this article, we look at possible causes and provide tips on how to combat day-to-day lack of concentration.
The terms concentration problem and attention deficit disorder are often used interchangeably or synonymously with one another. However, the former merely denotes a temporary lapse in a person’s ability to concentrate, whereas the latter lasts longer or is even permanent.
Both terms describe the reduced capacity to engage in a particular task or activity over a certain period of time. Those affected are easily distracted and therefore less attentive, concentrated or focused. However, the cause may sometimes lie elsewhere.
Besides environmental factors such as noise, heat, stuffy air or poor room light, physical and mental illnesses or an unhealthy lifestyle can cause concentration problems.
Sleep disorders or lack of sleep, psychological stress, an unbalanced diet, dehydration, insufficient exercise, reduced blood flow to the brain, the “wrong” time of the day, and not being at your best on the day can frequently trigger concentration problems.
Diseases such as depression, anorexia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), dementia and hypothyroidism also play a part. Iron deficiency, low blood pressure, allergies or medication can also impair your ability to concentrate.
The list is not exhaustive, but as you can see, there are quite a few factors that can reduce your concentration levels.
When you have problems concentrating, you temporarily lose the ability to concentrate on a task or activity. Your thoughts quickly start to wander, you are easily distracted, make careless mistakes, and become restless or even hyperactive. However, fatigue often quickly sets in as well.
Everyone can concentrate for different lengths of time, and your ability to concentrate also depends to a large extent on your age. While primary school children lose concentration after about 15 minutes, the average adult is able to concentrate for around an hour. A visit to a medical specialist is indicated only if your ability to concentrate is significantly below this time limit, the problem is extremely unpleasant, occurs suddenly for no apparent reason, worsens or lasts for weeks.
If the concentration problem in question is harmless and not illness-related, the following general tips may be of help. They also improve and prevent concentration problems. Please note that the list is not exhaustive.
Get sufficient sleep
If you do not get enough sleep, this can impact your ability to concentrate throughout the day. In this article, you will learn more about sleep disorders if you suffer from them.
Psychological well-being and breaks
Your concentration levels may be impacted if you are under pressure at work, suffering from stress, or working to deadlines. Learn strategies to deal with stressful situations in the right way, such as playing sport, using relaxation techniques, talking with others, managing your time better, and taking breaks. Moreover, you can do breathing exercises to relieve any stress and focus more easily as well.
Balanced diet and sufficient fluid intake
Drink about two litres of (mineral) water or unsweetened tea per day. If you have a balanced and varied diet, your brain will receive all the nutrients it needs. For example, did you know that the fatty acid balance also has a bearing on brain function?
With regular walks or outdoor sport, you will not only improve the blood flow in your brain but also supply it with oxygen.
Consume fewer stimulants
Limit your caffeine, nicotine and alcohol intake. They can impair your ability to concentrate when consumed in high doses and over the long term.
Extracts from the ginseng root are used for states of exhaustion, fatigue and lack of concentration. Extracts from ginkgo leaves are used for memory and concentration problems as they improve cerebral blood flow.
The ear contains numerous acupressure points. Massage the Shen-Men point on the upper edge of the ear cartilage right above the auditory canal in a circular motion for around one to two minutes. This is said to improve your energy and attention levels when it is stimulated.