Now it's time to tackle the physical
part of mind management. Diet and exercise form a huge part
of what makes your brain work, and work well and efficiently.
Your overall health and well-being can have a huge impact on
your ability to focus and concentrate on the task at hand. When
deadlines are looming, and the pressure is rising to do well,
you may find yourself ignoring what your mind and body need.
Many people push their bodies
and minds beyond what is practical and safe for the sake of
an approaching deadline. They keep long hours, denying their
bodies rest and relaxation; they either skip meals or eat junk
food. Then they wonder why they are not able to focus and finish
When it comes to food, there
are many ideas and theories about what you should eat and drink
to help you focus and concentrate. It's all 'food for thought.'
Many swear by the use of caffeine, saying it gives them the
needed boost of energy. Others use energy drinks, or chocolate
or sodas to help energize them when they feel fatigued. Some
do not experience the boost, but instead feel jittery and uncomfortable.
This can cause more concentration problems, along with the difficulties
that come when the effects wear off or when too much caffeine
Sugar has long been regarded
as a real energy booster, since the brain uses glucose as a
primary source of fuel. In a study of older adults, they were
given either a sweet drink or carbohydrates, which metabolizes
into glucose in the body. The participants actually did better
in memory tests, as compared to the results after taking a placebo.
Yet doctors have proved that while sugar may give the person
a boost, it is short-lived, and ends up leaving them feeling
more fatigued than before.
Most doctors agree that despite
the advantages of glucose on the memory, whole foods, such as
fruits, vegetables and grains support health in general. They
stipulate that eating a healthy diet will do more for the desired
level of performance than using stimulants or energy boosters.
In the end, an unhealthy diet will decrease your ability to
Another food factor to consider
is eating too much or too little. Eating a heavy meal just before
an important function will make you feel lethargic, since blood
is being diverted from the brain to the stomach for digestion.
On the other side, eating little or nothing could result in
unwanted distractions such as hunger pangs or light-headedness.
Eating smaller, more frequent meals actually works best. Be
sure and drink plenty of water any time you need to focus, especially
when you feel sluggish.
In children, doctors have discovered
that those who eat breakfast have better short-term memory than
those who eat nothing. They also discovered that high-caloric
breakfasts definitely impaired children's concentration. The
high fat diet was found to negatively impact alertness. Once
again, the more balanced diets are infinitely more desirable
when it comes to positive impact on the ability to concentrate.
Many supplements are known to
enhance the brain's ability to concentrate and improve memory,
but they are not substitutes for whole foods. On the health
food store shelves, you'll see a variety of products all claiming
to enhance your mental health.
Some health conscious folks
swear by the use of potassium (found in bananas and avocados),
vitamins C and E (considered to be anti-oxidants), even gingko
biloba and garlic (felt to be a blood thinner), and Omega-3
fatty acids as well as all B vitamins.
This will depend on a person's
age, and fitness level of course. If you haven't exercised in
twenty years, are over sixty, and have a smoking habit, it's
a cinch you're not going to be able to run a marathon. You should
probably consult with your physician first to determine your
health status before starting any type of exercise regimen.
However, the consensus of most doctors is that something as
simple as walking each day can have a decided impact on your
overall health. The release of endorphins to your brain definitely
aids in concentration and focus, plus a feeling of well-being
to keep you going.
So, instead of panicking just
before a large project, test, or sports contest, take the advice
of several experts at WebMD. They recommend that you exercise
to keep your mind sharp, get a good night's sleep, eat a well-balanced
meal (nothing too heavy - you don't want to get sleepy because
the idea is to be wide awake and alert). You might try meditating
to allow your mind to clear and feel relaxed; this will help
keep you focused and ready to tackle anything. Other than those
recommendations, you should try to do the necessary preparation,
in advance, for whatever event awaits you. Waiting until the
last moment can send you into a panic and limit your concentration.
Your body and your brain need
rest and relaxation every day. Some experts insist that power
naps can improve your ability to focus and concentrate, but
most of us aren't able to take advantage of a catnap each day.
Sleeping at your desk doesn't go over very well with most bosses.
In order to avoid insomnia,
which can be a problem during times of stress and anxiety, try
to establish a regular bedtime, even on weekends and days off.
If you feel you must cut back on the number of hours that you
sleep, go to bed at your regular time and simply get up earlier
in the morning. Staying up late at night can have a negative
effect on your entire day, making you feel as if you are moving
in slow motion. Too many late nights can eventually affect your
overall health, as well as your ability to concentrate.
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