We live in a world in which we’re constantly bombarded with news, emails, texts, and other notifications. As if modern technology and today’s go-go-go culture didn’t make focusing on one thing at a time difficult enough, the coronavirus pandemic has made it feel nearly impossible.
“Our ancestors did not face the same influx of information, and our brains haven’t yet evolved to be wired for the constant barrage of information we experience in modern life,” says Dr. Josh Axe, D.N.M., C.N.S., D.C, member of The Vitamin Shoppe Wellness Council and co-founder of Ancient Nutrition.
Does that mean we’re doomed for a lifetime of distraction? Of course not. However, “the technology isn’t going away, so what needs to change is you and your habits,” says naturopathic doctor Dr. Christian Gonzalez N.D., host of the Heal Thyself podcast.
To boost your focus, put the following lifestyle changes and supplements to work for you.
Lifestyle Habits That Boost Focus
Though adjusting your lifestyle to support better focus doesn’t happen overnight, these foundational factors will make it easier for you to get in the zone.
1. Eat More Fruits and Vegetables
The average adult should consume five to nine servings of fruits and vegetables a day, and if you’re having trouble focusing, you need to up your intake ASAP, says functional medicine expert Dr. Jordan Leasure D.C.
Ideally, Leasure recommends:
- three servings fruits and vegetables that are high in sulfur (onions, shallots, and cruciferous vegetables)
- at least three servings of dark leafy greens
- three servings of colorful fruits and vegetables (peppers, carrots, mangos, strawberries)
“It often isn’t a single vitamin deficiency that’s resulting in lack of focus,” says Leasure. (In many cases, issues with vitamin B6, vitamin B12, magnesium, vitamin D, and omega-3s are all involved.)
Read More: 7 Signs You Have A Vitamin D Deficiency
Typically, eating this variety of nutritious foods will address any deficiencies interfering with clarity and focus, she says.
2. Turn Off As Many Notifications As Possible
Our constant access to digital equipment means most of us don’t shut off after the workday ends. As a result, we have more trouble focusing on our families, hobbies, and other daily tasks.
“We miss out on so many pleasures in life because work is competing for our attention,” says Leasure.
The solution here isn’t an easy one, but it’s an important one: Disable work email notifications and instant messages from popping up on the weekends. “If you don’t control your distractions, they’ll control you,” says Axe.
3. Start Meditating
You’ve heard about the benefits of meditation by now—and focus is a big one.
“Meditation has literally been shown to change the brain, so that censors for anxiety and impulse control are reduced,” says Gonzalez. Basically, a meditator will feel less compelled to shift away from a project they’re working on to respond to an email notification than a non-meditator.
Though one meditation session won’t make you a more focused person, a month of daily practice will,” he says. At the very least, it gives you some daily time away from your phone.
Supplements That Boost Focus
While the lifestyle changes above build a solid foundation of focus, the following supplements can support your noggin when you need an extra boost.
Taking the herb regularly can help reduce mental fatigue and improve performance on work-related tasks by up to 20 percent, according to research published in Phytomedicine. Many people notice benefits within just two to three days, though, says Leasure.
A standard dose of rhodiola is 200 to 600 milligrams per day. In addition to capsules, you’ll also find this herb in tea form. (Note that it has an earthy flavor, so stick to a standard supplement if that’s not your vibe.)
Try: plnt brand Rhodiola
In fact, one 2017 Journal of Dietary Supplements study found supplementing with 600 milligrams of ashwagandha root extract a day for eight weeks benefits attention and information processing speed.
If you’re interested in trying ashwagandha, check in with your healthcare provider (it’s not suitable for people on certain medications or pregnant women). Once you’ve got the green light, you can find ashwagandha supplements in powder or capsule form.
3. A Nootropic Formula
With cognition and focus a concern for so many people these days, many brands are now developing nootropic formulas, which are created using a specific variety of ingredients to help you get in the zone. Many formulas contain natural focus-supporters like Lion’s Mane mushrooms, ginseng, and sometimes caffeine.
You know these healthy bacteria are good for your gut, but you probably don’t consider them focus-boosters. However, “you have to think of the brain and gut as one,” says Leasure. “If you have damage or dysfunction in your gut, it will affect the brain.”
If you have increased intestinal permeability (a.k.a. leaky gut), for example, it contributes to what Leasure calls “leaky brain.” What does that look like? Think wandering thoughts, decreased focus, and forgetfulness.
That’s where probiotics come in. “Research has shown that probiotics support overall gut health and the integrity of the gut lining,” Leasure says. If your inability to focus is linked to gut issues, a daily probiotic supplement can help.
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