Exercises to improve concentration and focus include cognitive and behavioral techniques that may help stimulate brain regions which support attention. Physical exercise may also improve your concentration and focus by increasing brain chemicals that help you pay attention. Reducing distractions by putting aside tasks, such as email, messages and other work, can also help improve concentration and focus.
Buddhists practice mindfulness to experience the present with more balance, and mindfulness meditation can improve your concentration and focus. Mindfulness exercises direct your attention to particular activities such as smiling. Sit with your eyes closed, and slowly begin smiling while paying close attention to the way your face moves and other elements of the activity, such as sensations of dampness or dryness on your lips. Bring your attention back to smiling any time your mind wanders off. Open your eyes after focusing for five minutes and reflect on how the exercise felt.
Attending to visual tasks causes neuronal firings in the visual cortex region of the brain, which may help you tune out distractions and focus. Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D., recommends improving your concentration and focus with a visual exercise using two different colored pencils. Set a timer that goes off at multiple random time intervals for five minutes. For example, the alarm may sound after five seconds, then again after another 15, 10 and five. Hold one pencil in each hand, 16 inches from your face and shoulder-width apart. Exclusively focus on one pencil, then switch to the other each time the alarm sounds.
Chewing gum can improve your concentration by exercising attentional regions of your brain. This exercise involves chewing gum during learning or work-oriented tasks such as attending a lecture or doing homework. Chewing gum may improve your ability to learn, retain and retrieve information. Students that chewed gum during math activities for 14 weeks achieved higher test scores and higher final grades than non-chewers, according to 2009 data from the Baylor College of Medicine. Gum chewers scored 24 and 36 percent higher than non-chewers on immediate word recall tests and delayed word recall tests, respectively, during a University of Northumbria study in 2002.
Inefficient breathing patterns may suppress your concentration by limiting oxygen in your brain. Belly breathing exercises may improve your concentration and focus by correcting your breathing, which may improve learning and even boost your IQ. Place one hand on your stomach. Inhale slowly through your nose, and into your abdomen to make your stomach expand for about three seconds. Exhale for another three seconds by slowly pushing your breath out with your abdominal muscles.
- National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine; Medication: An Introduction; June 2010
- The DBT Center of Michigan, PLLC: Mindfulness Exercises; Josh Smith, MSW, LMSW
- The DANA Foundation: Synchronized Brain Waves Focus Attention; Maria Schamis Turner; June 29, 2009
- Your Family Clinic; Eye Exercises to Increase Attention and Reduce Impulsivity; Daniel T. Moore, Ph.D.; 2000
- "Science"; High-frequency, Long-range Coupling Between Prefrontal and Visual Cortex During Attention; Gregoriou GG, Gotts SJ, Zhou H, Desimone R.; May 29, 2009
- Psychology Today; Retraining the ADHD Brain; G. Frank Lawlis, PhD; Feb. 2, 2009