Just like every other type of exercise, mental exercises tend to be boring. You are required to follow the designated routine religiously with perseverance. However, the results are often astonishing if you practice it right.
Our minds and our body display similar behavior when they engage in exercises. When you exercise your arms based on a strict program, they increase their strength.
Similarly, you can use mental exercises to improve concentration and sharpening the mind.
Your Mind Is A Muscle
If you’re trying to improve concentration and focus abilities, always remember that your mind is like a powerful ‘attention’ muscle, which works just like your regular physical muscles.
Both kinds of muscles are limited by the strength they possess, which is dependent on how regularly they are used. The concept is simple – Use them daily, and they will get stronger. But they also need recuperation and rest to function at peak capacity.
Before exercising at a gym, many people often experience feelings of doubt and are unsure whether they can exercise properly. It’s the same thing that happens with your mind whenever you begin working at a difficult challenge. You just need to sit down and focus if you want to get the job done.
Most people tend to zone out, midway through their work, or get distracted by something else. They are unable to stay put at their jobs and waste unnecessary time looking at useless distractions.
However, when you convince yourself to keep going no matter what and dig deeper, you will be shocked at how powerful your mind is.
Face it – It is impossible to strengthen your muscles by sitting idle all day. Similarly, if you start limiting your focus, there’s no way you’ll be able to develop your mental strength and improve concentration. It is crucial to engage in resistive exercise throughout the day to increase your mental abilities.
Your Mind Needs To Be Challenged
It is crucial to set challenges for your mind in order to improve concentration and take it to the next level. During the course of these exercises, your mind will start growing ‘focus fibers,’ which have powerful benefits. Here are seven ways you can use for building these focus fibers:
Increase Your Focus Slowly
It is foolish to start an intensive physical training session right from day one. It’s the same deal with your mind as well. It is important to raise your mind muscle’s strength in a gradual manner. This way, it will become capable of reaching greater heights.
You can use the “Pomodoro Technique” to help you achieve this goal. Here, you need to set a timer for a fixed period of time, say 45 minutes. Keep working until these 45 minutes are done. You can then relax for 15 minutes.
However, if you aren’t able to focus on the job at hand, there is no point in working for such a long time. Therefore, set a timer for 5 minutes. Work without paying heed to any distractions for these 5 minutes. Relax for 2 minutes when this time is up. Repeat the cycle.
With every day that goes by, keep adding 5 minutes of work to your timer along with an additional 2 minutes for relaxing. In 9 days, you will achieve the ability to work for 45 minutes continuously without getting distracted. You can then reward yourself with a break of 18 minutes.
Once you’ve made a habit of this routine, you may increase the time limit as per your preference and reduce your breaks. However, don’t eliminate breaks completely since they are still very much important to enable the proper functioning of your mind.
Build Up Your Willpower
When you have enough willpower, you are invincible. You can ignore all distractions without worry and keep pushing until your tasks are finished without getting sidetracked in the least.
Enhancing your willpower requires time and energy. Therefore, the best method for doing that is by tackling large goals and using the Pomodoro Technique that we had discussed earlier.
Enhance your willpower over time, by increasing the time you work on your goals gradually without giving in to your distractions.
Switching hands can also help you enhance your willpower. For instance, right-handed people could switch to their left hands and vice versa, which will help them build their willpower.
Develop a Sense of Curiosity
The more curious you are about our environment, the better you will perform when it comes to being able to improve concentration. Here, try this small experiment for testing out how curiosity can help you sustain your focus at particular tasks.
Make a small dot on some paper. Place it before you or have it pinned on the wall.
Start focusing on the dot. One of these two will happen – Either you will be unable to focus on the dot, or your field of vision will start blurring in such a way that you won’t be able to see a thing, save for the dot.
Start asking yourself questions about this dot – its color, shape, size, etc., as you look at it. Keep pounding your mind with successive questions, and you will find that your concentration levels will increase dramatically.
Engaging in regular physical exercise can improve concentration and physical health. People who exercise before going to work or an exam have been shown to have enhanced attention spans compared to people who don’t.
That’s because physical exercise can enhance your brain’s power to increase willpower and ignore distractions.
It is known that staying physically fit can help you raise your intelligence. Everything that you drink and eat affects your thinking and concentration abilities.
Ensure that you sleep well, stop smoking, and eat well. Try eliminating a single unhealthy habit every month and evaluate the growth of your focus and concentration abilities after that.
Take Regular Breaks
Many of us have often come across this saying – take more breaks regularly if you want to be productive. We have the same thing to say here, as well. That’s because it’s true and works well for people struggling with concentration issues.
New research has made it clear that an average human being’s attention span is somewhere between ten and twenty minutes, even under the most optimal conditions.
Therefore, to improve concentration, take regular breaks, walk outside, or sit near a window for inhaling some fresh air that will rejuvenate all your senses.
You can also have some coffee or eat something light to freshen up your mind. Ensure your thoughts during this break are unrelated to whatever you were doing earlier.
This bit is extremely important since the idea of a break is negated if you keep pondering over the very same issue again and again.
Promote Positive Energy Flows Throughout Your Body
Start channeling positive energy flows throughout your body. It can help you concentrate and focus more, whereas negative energy can harm you adversely. You are fully capable of controlling the energy flows in your body.
While learning to do this and mastering it can take you a very long time, it isn’t unattainable. It is important that you understand exactly what helps you feel content and positive.
Once you’ve figured that out, have this factor in your environment whenever you work. Similarly, eliminate all variables from your immediate environment that cause you to feel unhappy or discontent.
Start Practicing Mindfulness Meditation
To improve concentration tart meditating for around 10-20 minutes every day, which can help you flush out negative thoughts from your mind. You can also use this before or after a long day of work to freshen up your mind.
Practice mindfulness every now and then throughout the day. Simply focus on one single task whenever you sit down to work. Slow down and think about all the emotions that go through your mind while performing this task – both mentally and physically.
This will help you boost your focus, attention abilities, and improve concentration whenever they are needed and help you power through irritating distractions.
Ten Exercises To Improve Concentration
The following exercises have been designed to improve concentration levels. Therefore, you can perform at your very best and take on heavier challenges when the situation demands you to.
It doesn’t matter how low your concentration and focus abilities may be in the beginning. The only thing that matters is that you’re able to stay collected and calm and relaxed while you complete the given exercises.
Even under the most challenging circumstances, you’ll be capable of concentrating and focusing your thoughts to do your bidding.
Here are the exercises that are made to improve concentration:
While it may seem simple, it’s a deceiving, rest assured. Don’t say the numbers out loud. Count backward in your mind.
Once this gets easy, start introducing new twists. For instance, you can start counting from 100 and skip five digits every time you say a number, like 100, 95, 90. etc., or try it by intervals of 3, such as 90, 87, 84, 81, etc…
Glass of Water
Sit on a surface while holding a glass of water. Extend your arm and then place this glass on your outstretched palm. Any shaking or tremors that you have can be observed by looking at the ripples that form on the water’s surface.
Start concentrating hard and stare at the glass. Your arm will start steadying themselves out upon doing this. Then, shift this glass onto your other hand. Repeat.
Come up with a small geometric figure and draw it on paper. It may be a rectangle, triangle, or circle. Ensure that the size isn’t overtly huge – It has to be small for the purposes of this exercise.
Now, start filling the figure with contrasting and bright colors like black or red or yellow. Next comes the difficult part – Stare at this picture before you and start visualizing the figure.
Ignore everything else – the surroundings and the colors should no longer matter. Block every single thought that enters your mind. Simply gaze at this paper before you and image the outline or figure.
Do A Word Count
This is among the simplest mental exercises ever but it will help improve concentration. Pick a newspaper and an article. Start performing a word count of the first para in the article. Do it again in order to ensure that the count is right.
Proceed to the next paragraph and repeat this procedure for the whole page. You may also use a magazine or a book to carry out this exercise. However, ensure that you don’t use your fingers while doing this exercise. Only your eyes are to be used by performing this exercise.
This involves sitting on a chair, picking out a piece of fruit, and then holding it on your palm. You should now start concentrating on this fruit.
Analyze it with your eyes and think all you can about its smell, its texture, its taste, and how It must feel to bite into it and all other such thoughts. Don’t consider other accompanying matters such as its price or the store you purchased it from.
Your goal must be to block or eliminate every other feeling or thought that goes through your mind & think about this fruit at a fundamental level.
This is fairly simple – Just sit. That is all you have to do in this exercise. Simply select a nice, comfortable chair for yourself and sit in it. The only rule here is that you aren’t allowed to move a single muscle.
Except for your nostrils and chest, your body should not move even a single millimeter. While it may seem effortless at first, it’s actually pretty tough for a novice. It may not be possible to perform this exercise for a period exceeding five minutes during your initial days.
However, practicing hard can help you increase this limit for up to fifteen minutes. It’s like a compound exercise – If you do it right, it will relax your entire body perfectly.
Look but Don’t Think at All
This is a different take on the “Fruit Exercise” that has been discussed above. Here, take a small, ordinary object like a paper clip, pencil, or a pen and stare at it, employing your full powers of concentration. But don’t let any other thought enter your mind.
Keep staring at the item without thinking at all. While it may seem tough during the first few days, you will be able to improve concentration over time. Just keep repeating this again and again, and you’ll be able to take your concentration abilities to new heights.
There’s no greater distraction that ruins our focus and concentration abilities as noise does. Therefore, let’s take care of it here. Pick a spot at a park that’s next to a busy road. Now, close both your eyes. Take in all the various sounds that you hear around you.
Next, select any one sound and start concentrating solely on it, to the exclusion of everything else. Let 2-3 minutes pass before switching your focus to other sounds. Concentrate on the next sound now, and block out everything else. This is one of the better exercises to improve concentration.
While you may be aware of this technique, it is so effective that it has to be mentioned on this list. There is simply no other exercise that is as simple and as effective as this one. Simply sit on the ground or on a chair, with your back and head in perfect alignment.
Then, press the index finger against the right nostril. Inhale gently using your left nostril for around 10 seconds. Then, remove this finger, exhale through the other nostril taking 10 seconds for doing so.
Repeat this procedure using the left nostril and the other index finger. Repeat this exercise 20 times in a single sitting to derive all its benefits.
Wipe Out All Thoughts
We’ve been saving the toughest exercise to mention it last. Blank out and eliminate all your thoughts for 1 minute. There should be nothing at all that goes through your mind. Wipeout every single thought from your head.
While it may challenge and require every ounce of energy, don’t ever give up. Stay at it and start increasing the time up to 5 minutes, 10 minutes, and so on in a gradual manner.
There’s only a single principle that you need to bear in mind here – Your mind has to be free of all thoughts. Not one thought should be able to enter your mind.
There are a number of different thoughts that will be waiting right at the gates to enter your mind and disrupt your focus. However, you will soon be able to shoo away all such thoughts once you master your abilities.
Tips To Help You With The Above 10 Exercises
Here are some helpful tips that will assist you greatly while performing the exercises to improve concentration further
- Go someplace quiet where there aren’t many distractions. This will help you stay focused.
- Ensure you are comfortable enough. Many people prefer to sit down on the floor in a cross-legged fashion though you may also sit on a chair. Your spine has to be erect, though.
- Begin with your 1st exercise. Practice this every day until all distractions have been eliminated, and you are able to perform your exercises without giving in to them. In case you do become distracted, you can rest for 10 minutes and resume again.
- Take a few deep calming breaths first for relaxing your body. Start from the toes and then slowly work your way right up to the top of your head, relaxing every muscle along the way.
- Practice every exercise for ten minutes during the first week. With each week that passes, you can keep adding an extra minute.
- Be honest and realistic about what you do. Do your next exercise only when you’re satisfied with your performance with the previous one. Ensure that you’ve practiced it thoroughly without giving in to any distractions.
- Do all the exercises regularly. Never skip out on them, even when you may be highly tempted to give in and rest. Consistency is key.
- Don’t maintain a timetable since this is likely just to frustrate you. Don’t set a goal for your exercises and don’t set time-bound goals at all. There are two things that will happen if you do this – You are in for a disappointment if you cannot master the exercise within the time limit. Secondly, you will not gain proper mastery over the exercise and move on prematurely.
- Do remember that it can take many days, weeks, or even months before you master these exercises.
- Pay attention to these exercises alone, and don’t think about any other issues. Ensure that you aren’t daydreaming or falling asleep as you exercise. Whenever you feel that your mind is wandering away, stop immediately, and start over. Once you’ve become proficient, you may repeat the exercise again, but with two daily sessions or for a much longer time period.
- Don’t set unrealistic goals or attempt to perform all these exercises in one go. Don’t burn yourself out.
- Don’t feel disheartened in case you give in to distractions easily or are unable to concentrate well. Everybody was a beginner at first. Remain perseverant, and you will taste success eventually.
- Do remember that everybody who ever performed these exercises had to retrain their minds the exact same way that you are doing now.
Concentration and focus are two important qualities that have a significant impact on your chances of success in your profession. Do remember that to improve concentration and focus abilities isn’t something that can be done overnight. It requires steady practice and needs to be done in a gradual manner.
You may need weeks, months, or even years of diligent and constant practice to realize significant gains from your practice.
Therefore, don’t give up all hope when you start. Keep at it, and one day, you’ll find yourself to be a whole new enhanced being who can operate at an entirely different level compared to what you previously were.