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Attention please!

health-and-fitness Updated: Feb 20, 2010 19:54 IST
Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi
Tavishi Paitandy Rastogi
Hindustan Times
Highlight Story

For HR consultant Nikita Behl, life is fantastic. A star performer at work, she has nothing to complain about. Apart from one thing, that is. She just cannot concentrate on anything. “I am very fidgety and restless. I keep thinking of a million things at the same time,” she says. So what’s wrong with that? Well, says Nikita. In her hurry to finish one job and get on to the next, she fails to concentrate on any. This leads to errors and jobs badly done.

Blame the fast pace of our lives, say experts. Few of us these days are exempt from a short attention span, and that’s because we have stressed and overactive minds, says psychologist Bhawna Mehra.

But attention issues are not tough to work on. “All it takes is a deliberate effort to concentrate and relieve your mind of undue stress and negativity,” says psychologist Seema Hingorrany.

That sounds easy, but is it? It could be, if you learn to manage your time a little better, acquire a positive attitude – and approach the problem like this.

Start slow
When you begin the day, say experts, do it in a relaxed way. “If you get up in a hurry and rush to work, your energies get wasted right at the start,” says Hingorrany. “The urgent need to get to your workplace doesn’t let you concentrate on how exactly you want to go about completing the day’s jobs. So you lose focus, wasting a lot of time. This results in not just spoiling the work in hand but also delaying the next job.”

Most of us schedule lists in our heads of things to be done. But while work discipline is always a good idea, it’s important to understand that everything cannot go like clockwork every day. “Not everything will fall into its perfect place every day and not everything can be done as routinely as it’s usually done,” adds Hingorrany. “So it’s essential to let go and take things as they come. You need to stop getting hyper about non-resolvable issues such as a traffic jam or waking up late. Rather, focus on how to make the best of the time you have left.”

Breakfast well
Breakfast is the first thing you dump when you’re in a rush, but if you want to improve your ability to focus, you must eat well. “The body needs sugar and glucose as fuel every day,” says Bhawna Mehra. “A healthy breakfast provides all the necessary elements to help you sort out problems. Most important, it gives your body the energy to start the day. It also de-clogs the mind.”

To help you function better, make sure your daily diet includes an adequate dose of vitamin B12, as it plays a key role in the normal functioning of your brain and nervous system. “It’s generally found in meat products, so most vegetarians have a vitamin B12 deficiency,” says Mehra. “So they should eat beetroot, almonds and walnuts regularly.”

Take a break
The minute you feel that you’re losing concentration, get up and take a break. Micro-breaks within the work area are as important as weekend breaks outside the office, says Hingorrany. “With millions of things happening around us, it is only normal to start thinking about other things or looking elsewhere while we are engaged on some task. Drop whatever you are doing and take a walk, chat with friends, finish a phone call or have a coffee. A break is always refreshing.”

Stub it out
A lot of people feel cigarettes help them concentrate better. But that is incorrect, say experts. “Nicotine may give an immediate kick but in the long run, it makes you restless and impatient,” says Hingorrany. “This leads to a hyperactive mind and you lose focus. So avoid cigarettes. Instead, take a bite of chocolate when you feel the need for a smoke. The sugar will satiate the need.”

Drink it slow
When you feel you’re losing track, sip water or lemon juice very slowly. “Water and lemon water help calm you down,” says Mehra. “Sip slowly and deliberately to soothe your nerves. An overactive mind is a sign of a stressed mind and it is essential to put it at peace.