Funny enough, while we talk about the choices we make and the importance of practicing focus in our lives—again, whether it’s on our daily tasks or our overall goals—our physical health actually plays a pretty big role in our ability to pull this off.
If you’re struggling with focus, here are four areas you may want to evaluate in your own life to see how they’re affecting you:
I still remember when I first realized how big of a difference my water consumption made on my daily energy. Our bodies need water, and while we all know stories of people who survive without ever drinking water, the truth is that their bodies could be working so much better if they were getting the hydration they need.
Being dehydrated—even just a little bit—affects your focus and concentration, your energy and your attention.
Try this experiment: Commit to drinking 64 ounces of water a day for just 2-3 days and then honestly evaluate your energy levels after that time. I think you’ll be surprised by how much more you get done (even with the bathroom breaks!) and how much better you feel.
When I am tired, stressed or overwhelmed, I crave sugars and simple carbs. When I give into those cravings, I end up more tired, stressed and overwhelmed, which puts me on a cycle of binging and crashing.
It’s a terrible response to stress, and one I can see coming from a mile away, but I still give in more often than not because those cravings are so strong.
However, when I’m eating proteins and veggies and healthy fats, I feel so much better. I sleep better, have more consistent energy and my mind feels clearer all day long.
Try this experiment: What you eat for breakfast can affect your food choices for the rest of the day. For example, the healthier my breakfast, the better able I am to control my appetite and cravings all day; when I start the day with any sugar at all, it just goes downhill from there! Choose healthy breakfasts this week and see if the same is true for you.
Movement & Posture
Did you know that they way you move and hold your body actually affects your energy, motivation and stress levels? Slouching or poor posture uses more energy than sitting up straight and tall, and it can have many affects on your health as well.
Similarly, even when you don’t have time for a full workout, a quick walk or a few stretches can raise your energy level and help you concentrate and focus.
Try this experiment: When you start to feel your energy and focus disappear, try one or two of these simple stretches to get your blood pumping and your body moving.
Next month’s topic is all about rest—physical and mental rest—but for now, it’s worth the reminder that our bodies really do need sleep to perform their best. While some of us have limited sleep because of circumstances completely beyond our control, most of us could do better about prioritizing sleep in our lives.
Try this experiment: While it might feel like you’re giving up your only quiet hours by going to bed earlier, try sticking to an earlier bedtime—and 7-8 hours of sleep a night—for a week and see how you feel!
Improving our focus and attention involves willpower and practice, but taking care of your body plays an important role in this process as well!
ACTIVITIES & QUESTIONS
1. Over the next few weeks, try the four experiments outlined above. Pay attention to the affect that each one has on your mental clarity, attention span and energy level. Choose one to prioritize as part of your daily routine.