Concentration can be understood as the ability to stay focused on one task longer than others without being distracted. The more senses are used in the activity that is carried out, the greater the concentration. It corresponds to a learned cognitive procedure of reacting passively or not being distracted by irrelevant stimuli. Concentration also means being totally here and in the now, in the present. The main component of concentration is focusing attention on the task at hand and not being distracted by irrelevant internal or external stimuli.
Without concentration, it is practically impossible to learn something; therefore, concentration is essential for learning. In learning, attention allows you to select the most important of what you want to comprehend. Through engagement, we focus on one stimulus from everyone around us and ignore all the others. Concentration is one of the fundamental skills in the knowledge process. With concentration, we keep our attention focused on the point of interest for as long as necessary.
So if the concentration is a cognitive procedure, a skill that is learned, it can be improved and developed with practice. That is why we share with you ten strategies that strengthen the ability to concentrate on people of all ages.
We present a few exercises to improve mental concentration in children, adolescents, adults, and the elderly. Concentration is like a muscle, it can be trained, and it is possible to gradually acquire the necessary skills to be focused on the things you do and avoid distraction.
Concentration is a cognitive skill, which, although it may seem strange, is done through reasoning. This mental activity consists of focusing our attention voluntarily on a specific aspect and maintaining it. Concentration allows us to add information into our heads so that all our attention is focused on one particular objective, and we are not distracted by other types of information.
Why is it so essential to focus?
Concentration is possibly the most helpful ability that a human being possesses. When we have a good capacity for concentration, we can work or study much more efficiently, be more productive, and allow us to carry out activities in a more relaxed and pleasant way.
When we are doing a task and we get distracted, it is estimated that it takes an average of 20 to 25 minutes to focus on what we were doing again, which is quite a high expenditure of time and effort.
It is much more beneficial to perform tasks in a concentrated way than to do them with distractions. However, today we have an endless amount of stimuli around us that can incite us to distraction. And what happens? Well, little by little, we are getting used to paying attention to these distractions, so we lose our ability to concentrate. Therefore, so that this does not happen to us, it is convenient to train our concentration.
1. Get organized
First of all and possibly the most important, rather than an exercise that can help us improve our concentration, it is a requirement that we must meet if we want to have this ability. And yes, this first requirement, although we may not like it very much, is the organization.
2. Focus on one thing at a time
One of the problems that often prevent us from having the ability to concentrate that we would like is having multiple thoughts in our head and not being able to focus on just one.
When this happens, our concentration ability is noticeably reduced since our brain is not designed to focus on multiple tasks or thoughts simultaneously. Therefore, it is as important to acquire a good concentration capacity as to apply that capacity to concrete facts and eliminate the diversity of ideas in our minds.
To acquire this ability to extract a specific thought, an exercise that can help us many is the following: Sit in a chair, and when you are relaxed, of all the thoughts that come to mind, choose only one. The thought you choose can be anyone. For example, the chat you had with your coworker this morning, the photos your niece showed you last week, or the soccer game you saw on Saturday.
Once you have chosen it, spend about 5 minutes thinking about it and nothing else. If you do this exercise regularly, you will get used to being able to focus your attention on a single thought when necessary, and improving your concentration will be easier.
What hinder our ability to concentrate are anxiety, nervousness, or the inability to gain tranquility when performing a task. It is preferable to be relaxed and avoid excessive stress in order to concentrate well. If you notice that stress or anxiety interferes with your ability to concentrate, you can do deep breathing exercises.
4. Use the numbers
One of the cognitive activities that most strengthen our concentration is calculation. However, to perform this type of mental operation requires a great level of attention. So if it is difficult for you to concentrate, practicing these activities in your free time to the best of your ability will significantly improve your ability to concentrate.
There are thousands of calculation activities to do, and all of them will effectively improve your concentration as long as you do them carefully. Your ability to concentrate will improve from doing the famous sudokus that can be a more enjoyable way of doing this type of activity, regularly doing any mathematical operation.
5. Train your attention
Concentration is a cognitive activity designed to focus on a specific aspect; another beneficial exercise is to train our attention. In other words, if we have greater control over our attentional processes, it will be much easier for us to concentrate. One of the most effective ways to work your attention in your spare time is to do the typical word searches.
6. A moment of mindfulness
It is a mindfulness technique that you can do at any time of the day: before going to work, while waiting for the bus, or taking a break at the office. The exercise consists of focusing on your breathing for a couple of minutes, and its goal is to help you restore your thoughts, relax and obtain that mental clarity that you may have been losing during the day.
To do this, you have to stand, keep your eyes open, breathe with your belly, expel the air with your nose, and focus all your attention on the sound and rhythm of your breathing. It is likely that when you do, other thoughts will come to your head. When this happens, make an effort to return your attention to the breath and ignore other stimuli.
Because it is a simple exercise that requires little time to perform, it is recommended to do it in those moments of stress when you lack clarity of ideas or feel confused about something. Doing this in those moments, you will restore your thoughts and your attention, it will be easier for you to reorganize the concepts of your head, and you will reach a more appropriate state to concentrate.
7. Conscious observation
This exercise, like mindfulness, is also a Mindfulness technique that can be done, and that can help you a lot in improving your ability to concentrate. In this case, conscious observation consists of choosing any object. It can be the cover of a book, a torch, or a cup of coffee (it does not matter the object's qualities). Once you have chosen the object, you should observe it very carefully and be able to focus all your attention on it for about 3 or 4 minutes.
This simple exercise is very useful as it breaks the routine of our minds. If we look closely, throughout the day, we see many things; we observe some with more or less attention, but rarely do we observe something in a 100% conscious way.
By doing so, our mind frees itself from certain thoughts, focuses on the present, and gives us a feeling of "being awake" that helps us focus on a particular aspect.
8. The mental image
Another exercise similar to that of conscious observation is the mental image. As with the other exercise, you must choose any object that you have at hand (a pencil, a branch, some footwear) and observe it carefully, focusing all your attention on it and trying to remember every detail of that object. After you've spent approximately 2 or 3 minutes seeing the object as closely as possible, try to conjure up a mental image of the object in your mind that is as near to the object as possible.
With this exercise, apart from focusing your attention on the present as in the previous one, you will work on your information storage processes, so you will have to carry out extra concentration work to recover the information of the object that you have just observed.
9. Expression of our memories
Thinking about our memories is an exercise that usually gives us pleasure or is pleasant, but at the same time requires a high degree of concentration to recover the information in our brain.
When we remember, apart from exercising our memory, we are indirectly training our concentration. Now, we must not forget in a structured and detailed way; it is not worth thinking about past events without focusing our attention entirely on them.
Therefore, an exercise that we can do is to remember our vacations, writing down all the details that we remember about them: where they went, who you went with, what places you visited, what anecdotes happened, etc. This exercise can be done at night, in a relaxed and calm way, for about 30-40 minutes before sleeping.
10. Focus on your day
Another exercise that you can do before going to sleep is to remember everything you have done throughout the day when you go to bed. It is a simple exercise that requires practically no effort. It is recommended to do it daily, getting into the habit of doing this exercise before falling asleep.
You can do it when you are already lying in bed, and the objective is that during the 5 or 10 minutes that you do this exercise, you can remember with as much detail as possible everything you have done during the day, the people you have seen or the things that have caught your attention. @via Concentration.