We are constantly performing complex actions and tasks that require a high level of concentration. Intense physical exercise, reading, work or study, or even something as relatively simple as following the thread of a conversation, requires us to invest our mental resources in carrying out that action. But we often find that, for various reasons, we are not able to do this. We are losing the thread.
And there are different elements that generate us lack of concentration which is noticeable in performance and in daily tasks. Let’s see how to recognize these symptoms and how to overcome them.
Concentration as a mental capacity
The concept of concentration is not exactly new or unknown. We have all used the term more than once, we know what it refers to and we have this ability to a greater or lesser extent. However, before we start talking about when we miss, it may help to give a brief description of what we understand as such.
Concentration refers to the ability or ability of humans (and other species) to focus your cognitive resources on a stimulus or action, So that the rest of the environment is blurry and partially overlooked unless stimulation catches our attention. In other words, one can understand how a focus of attention does concrete things, selecting the stimulation and maintaining it. This allows us, as mentioned in the introduction, to follow the thread of a task and complete it.
In this skill it has a lot to do with the degree of motivation as to what we’re doing: it’s a lot easier to focus when we want to and we love doing what we’re doing, when it absorbs us. In fact, there are concepts, such as engagement, based on this.
Problems due to lack of concentration
But on more than one occasion we may not be able to maintain focus or invest enough mental resources to really focus on something, there is a lack of focus. This at first glance may not seem particularly serious, especially when we consider that we live in a society in which the most basic survival needs are usually covered, but the truth is that it can be a big problem and be crippling. effective and efficient action. And this can have repercussions in several areas.
For example, at the academic or professional levelOur ability to focus allows us to perform tasks that are asked of us or to correctly record what we need to do or keep in mind. Not being able to focus properly will cause us to need a lot more time to perform each action, and even we may not be able to do it now. This is something that has happened to all of us at some point, but it is very common that it can lead to poor performance.
In more extreme cases where the subject has not been able to concentrate at all for a long time, this can lead to academic failure, conflicts at work or in extreme cases to dismissal.
On a personal level, a lack of focus also translates into a lack of desire to act. If we want to do something at least we lose the thread we end up frustrated, and leave that for another moment.
When it comes to social relationships, this can also create difficulties. If we disconnect from the conversations they have with us (which can usually become easy for the other person to see), the other person may feel that we don’t want or are not interested in the interaction, which can generate discomfort and even conflict. .
But you don’t have to go to extremes either. We all often have moments of lack of concentration, And while this is experienced as a negative thing by most, under certain conditions it might even be adaptive: basically our mind is informing us that we have something that is most worrying us right now, or that our attentional resources are weak at the moment and we need rest. The fact that it is dysfunctional is mainly due to the need to perform the actions in question and may depend on the situation.
Possible causes of concentration problems
As we mentioned, we all have times from time to time when we lack focus. In most cases, we are not talking about a disorder, although in some disorders and illnesses we may find continued or repetitive lack of focus as a symptom. Let’s take a look at some common causes.
When we do something, we don’t do it in a vacuum. We are located in a certain environment and context, in which different stimuli appear that can interfere with our performance demanding our attention.
2. Task skill
Doing two or more things at once, unless one of them is highly automated, is tricky. We still have a divided attention span, focusing on something requires a lot of our attention to be devoted to it, and the other task can be distracting.
3. Concerns and reflections
One of the most common distractors that often interferes with our concentration is the existence of thoughts or worries that absorb our attention and make it difficult to focus our attention on something. These thoughts or concerns can be both important and trivial..
This has been discussed above, but fatigue is one of the most common causes of poor concentration. Our care resources are exhausted and we can’t keep them fixed on a particular item. It is one of the most common causes of concentration problems.
If we’re doing something we don’t like and would rather do something else, it’s harder to stay focused. And it is that motivation is a very important element in keeping our attention resources focused.
6. Fear and discomfort
If we feel bad we are nervous or we just had some sort of upheaval focusing on continually can be tricky, as the same discomfort (in addition to possible worries and associated thoughts) was claiming part of the subject’s attention.
7. Expansiveness, extreme joy and excessive energy
The opposite of the previous point can also make it very difficult to maintain concentration. The joy we feel also requires some attention, and unless what we are doing is their source, focusing on other things becomes complicated. High energy levels can cause the attention to shoot and move from point to point, unable to focus.
Mental abilities such as memory or the ability to concentrate are not always stable, but as a rule they usually decrease gradually with age. We are talking about a regulatory loss, and it is not necessary to suffer from any form of dementia.
Disorders and illnesses in which there is a lack of concentration
Although the above causes are common to the general population, as we have indicated in certain disorders and diseases, concentration fails due to the alterations generated by these conditions. A few of them are as follows.
1. Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder
ADHD is characterized precisely by the difficulty in maintaining concentration and the ease of these people to bathe, whether they are hyperactive or not. Those who suffer from it are easily distracted, tend to forget about objects and things to do, and have difficulty completing tasks. In cases of hyperactivity, there is also restlessness, Nervousness and impulsiveness.
2. Alzheimer’s and others dementias
Dementias and neurodegenerative diseases often cause problems with attention and concentration as the brain deteriorates. Along with memory problems, the ability to concentrate is often one of the first skills to decline.
Although the first thing that comes to mind when talking about schizophrenia are hallucinations, another of the common symptoms of those who suffer from this disorder is the presence of care difficulties, especially in those who suffer from this disorder. ‘some deterioration. This without taking into account the presence of a possible psychotic epidemic, in which concentration generally leads to hallucinations.
3. Mood disorders
People with depression often have difficulty concentrating as their minds are often occupied with negative thoughts. Sadness and automatic thoughts which are generated in depressive episodes, the anhedonia, apathy and passivity that usually accompany it make concentration very difficult for the patient.
As for people with bipolar disorder, in addition to the problems inherent in depressive episodes, they will also lack concentration when they are in the manic phase. In a manic episode, the person is expansive, energetic, quickened, restless and may even be irritable. Concentrating and maintaining attention on a particular stimulus is much more complex, switching from one stimulus to another.
4. Substance use
A large number of drugs and other substances significantly hinder the ability of those who take them to concentrate, either through depression of the nervous system or through over-stimulation. On the other hand, other substances like coffee can increase the energy level of a tired person, or others like lime. relax someone nervous, To the point of facilitating their concentration.
Some Ways to Exercise Mindfulness
Lack of concentration can be annoying and cause various problems in our daily life. This is why training is strongly recommended. Here are some ways to prevent a lack of focus or even to strengthen this skill.
1. Practice physical exercise
The habitual practice of exercise and sport greatly contributes to improving the ability to concentrate, in addition to burning energy and allowing the release of endorphins which will make us feel better.
2. Get enough sleep
We have already indicated that fatigue is one of the factors that causes a lack of concentration in our tasks. We need to get enough sleep and rest so that we can regain our energy and resources.
Linked to the previous point, we find the need to disconnect from our homework, our work or our studies. You must have time for yourself, without always being absorbed by the same task. If we don’t log out, we will end up being exhausted whether we are asleep or not.
4. Don’t get distracted by distractors
The cell phone, the computer, the television, the people talking … if we have a lot of concentration we may not be disturbed, but most people will see how their attention is drawn to these kinds of distractors. . Even if they don’t ring, their presence allows you to distract (does this sound like someone watching Facebook, WhatsApp or surfing the internet when they should be doing that job they need to do? next week?).
We’re also not saying that we have to isolate ourselves completely to do something, although you have to be aware and not boycott yourself.
5. Look for motivation in what you do.
Setting goals that really motivate us and relate them to what is being done keeps you focused. If what we’re doing doesn’t motivate us, we can try to make sense of it by linking it to our day-to-day life or establishing it as a necessary step to achieve that goal.
6. Practice meditation
Meditation has been shown to be effective in stimulating attention span, in addition to being a practice that allows us to relax and visualize things more objectively.
7. One thing at a time
Dealing with several things makes it difficult to keep our attention on one and leads to a lack of concentration. Get organized and focus on one task it’s easier to stay focused on what we’re doing.
8. Where it counts
Carrying out each action in a context that facilitates it is very useful. Studying in bed, for example, makes it easier to sleep by doing something (and in turn, when it comes to sleeping, we have a harder time doing it) while working at a desk. makes it easier to work with a computer, write or read. Light and sound conditions are also important.
9. Read and write
Reading and writing are actions which, although once we have learned that they may seem simple to us, they usually require large doses of concentration. Especially if we do it by hand. In addition, structuring a speech to express what we want to express forces us to focus on finding a way to do it.
10. Create a calendar
One way to build focus, as well as the ability to discipline, is to work out a schedule that takes into account what we’re going to be doing. In this planning, we need to incorporate not only what we need to do, but also rest periods. However, it is important that the planning is realistic, otherwise it can lead to demotivation.