I have trouble concentrating: possible causes and solutions

Lack of focus has become a serious problem over the past decades. Whether at work, at school or at play, there are many people who complain and wonder: “Why am I having trouble concentrating?”.

Despite the effort of concentration, it seems that the problem persists and, when it has already become chronic, it turns out to be a real source of interference in the well-being of the person.

Below we will see the reasons why this problem occurs, the factors that prevent us from focusing, and some tips on how to change the situation.

    “I have trouble concentrating”: a very common problem

    Concentration involves focusing our attention, consciously and intentionally, on a specific goal over a period of time. Good concentration means having a good ability to block distracting elements from the environment, having a good ability to put all cognitive resources into the task at hand and to keep our mind from losing track of what to do.

    Concentration is necessary for many daily activities. Whether it’s driving, playing sports, reading a book, meditating, preparing a meal or listening to a friend who needs your support, concentration is an aspect that we must put into practice in order to perform well. these activities. Otherwise, it may happen that we don’t know what we are reading, put salt in our coffee, or our friend fights us because we ignore him, to name a few examples.

    Of course it is normal not to always have the same level of concentration. There are days when we are more careful about what to do and other days when we are more dispersed. However, when our ability to concentrate is chronically weak, whatever it is, we have enough reason to worry. Not being able to pay attention to what is being done can lead to serious problems with academic and professional success, physical health, and social performance, both short and long term.

    Academically and professionally, not being able to focus on study and the workplace poses serious learning or job retention problems, respectively. If we have to study for an exam but don’t focus, our mark won’t be very high. When it comes to work, if we don’t do what we’re asked to do meticulously, our boss may not be happy with our performance and we run the risk of being made redundant.

    In relation to health, not being properly focused results in an increased risk of accidents of any kind. For example, if you are driving and you are not paying enough attention to the road, we may have a serious accident or if we are in the kitchen, we may not realize that we have a fire pot because we have passed the fire. These types of accidents happen every day, with human error being a very common factor.

    In the social realm, we don’t pay enough attention to what our parents, friends and important people say and do. it can seriously damage our relationships. We can be thought of as people who don’t care how other people feel or just pass on what they tell us. No one wants to have a friend who, when spoken to, seems to be talking to a wall.

    Why can concentration problems occur?

    There are several causes that can explain why we don’t focus. These are the most important.

    1. Lack of rest

    Fatigue is one of the worst enemies of concentration. For our brains to function optimally, we need to have had a good night’s rest, or at least taken a midday nap.

    Many people who suffer from concentration problems suffer from a lack of rest. Whether it’s because they suffer from insomnia, get too little sleep, or get poor quality sleep, The next day, they are not in their full faculties, which costs them all.

    In fact, chronic fatigue from not sleeping well is one of the main contributors to accidents and human error.

    2. Stress

    Chronic stress becomes a factor that affects our physical and mental health. This discomfort results in cognitive difficulties, including a lack of concentration. The higher the stress, the harder it is to try to calm the mind and focus attention on what needs to be done.

    3. Work overload

    We live in a society in which the philosophy of multitasking is encouraged, that is, by trying to do more than one thing at a time. This, which is interpreted to be very effective, can have the opposite effect.

    As the saying goes, which embraces a lot, do not squeeze, that is to say doing more than one thing at a time can prevent us from paying due attention to each task. The more things we have on the to-do list, the harder it is to do them one by one.

    The human being, within his great intelligence, has certain limits, and one of them is the be able to do several things at the same time. Switching from one task to another, the only thing that will be accomplished is wasting time, besides “spoiling” the brain so that it only concentrates for short periods of time.

    4. Boredom

    Boredom is not a pathological thing, on the contrary. Boredom is a fundamental human emotion. However, being bored is not something we like, especially if it is happening in a situation where we need to be careful.

    Having a job that we don’t like, being in a classroom with a boring teacher, or not receiving enough stimulation from the environment are factors that predispose to boredom and, therefore, to a decrease in our concentration. .

    When we are bored, what our brain comes to tell us is that we are in a situation which is interpreted as uninteresting and so it would be better to rest or do something else. Thus, it reduces our focus on the task at hand and pushes us to take refuge in distractors.

    Of course, if we are to do an important activity that bores us, it is something that frustrates us, but we also have to make the effort to try to focus our cognitive resources on what they should be.

    5. Presence of distractors

    There are people who are more easily distracted than others and it doesn’t help that there are distractors nearby.

    Whether it’s the cell phone, which has become the main distractor of the last decade, a book that we like to have handy while we study or work or anything else can cause us to decrease our concentration.

    6. suffer from attention deficit disorder

    ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is a disorder that involves serious problems maintaining sustained attention. In the event of a disorder, treatment is necessary, both psychotherapeutic and psychopharmacological.

    While there is a popular idea that it is an exclusively childhood disorder, it is also present in adulthood. People with this disorder are often described by the inner circle as distracted, usually in the clouds, or who don’t seem to be paying attention. It is not their intention, it is that they are suffering from a psychopathological condition.

      How to put a solution?

      As we have mentioned, lack of concentration can have a very serious impact on our quality of life, our academic and professional performance, as well as our social relationships. That is why it becomes necessary to put a solution to it when it has become something chronic.

      ADHD, sleep disorders and anxiety symptoms include lack of concentration. These disorders require the intervention of a clinical psychologist, a psychiatrist and a doctor if necessary, so there is no individual way to “fix” them. However, it is possible to work on the other factors mentioned above.

      1. Get a good rest

      It makes sense to think that while fatigue is one of the factors that keep us from concentrating, getting good rest will help us finally regain some concentration.

      Go to bed around 10 p.m. and trying to sleep between 6:30 and 8 a.m. is a key thing be able to have good cognitive resources. In addition, drinks containing caffeine such as coffee and tea should be avoided after 6 p.m.

      In case you suffer from insomnia or a severe sleep disorder, you should contact a professional who specializes in these problems, so that it is possible to proceed with the proper intervention.

      2. Put on some background sounds

      Sometimes what distracts us are acoustic distractors, like the son of those downstairs who never stops crying, our parents who have the TV on at full volume, or the horn of a driver with certain issues. anger control.

      These noises are difficult to avoid, because it is not in our hands to reduce them, but it is background noises can be used as a sound barrier. A good resource for this is Youtube, where there are hundreds of videos of forest, rain and thunderstorm sounds or classical music that can help us block out intrusive noise from the surroundings.

      3. Meditation and mindfulness

      Several studies have shown that meditation and mindfulness improve the ability to concentrate, In addition to reducing the levels of stress, anxiety and depression. These activities are ideal if you want to improve concentration, as meditation teaches you to keep intrusive thoughts at bay.

      4. Organize

      If it’s us who try to do everything at once, surprise: it won’t work. It is better to organize yourself and prioritize the tasks to be done.

      It is best to make a calendar, putting each task at one hour of the day to be done and separated by a quarter of an hour of rest.

      Thus, we will focus our cognitive resources on one thing at a time, performing fully and without making mistakes.

      5. Avoid distractors

      As simple as it sounds. Leave your mobile behind, study or work in a space we don’t mind, or keep the table clean these are simple actions that can help us, a lot, to keep us from losing track of what we are doing.

      6. Practice physical exercise

      In addition to keeping us in good physical shape, exercise has many benefits for our brain. In addition to keeping us in a good mood thanks to the action of endorphins, we have seen that sport improves the ability to concentrate.

      Bibliographical references:

      • Dunn, BR, Hartigan, JA and Mikulas, WL (1999) Concentration Meditations and Mindfulness: Unique Forms of Consciousness ?. Appl Psychofisiol Biofeedback 24, 147-165. https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1023498629385.
      • Moran, A. (1996). The psychology of concentration in athletes. London: Psychology Press, https://doi.org/10.4324/9781315784946

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