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We know, just off the title alone, you’re wondering what’s the one thing you can do to dramatically increase your focus.
What is this one simple change?
A brain detox.
Indeed, you’ve heard a lot about different types of detoxes people try, hoping to reset and revive some area of their well being.
Well, the brain is no different.
In fact, it’s one of the most important things you can do for your mental health—specifically—increasing your focus.
If you think about it, throughout the day, we interact with various types of stimulation. When we take in stimulating experiences, it produces a chemical called dopamine in the brain. When we have an excess of dopamine, it decreases our focus.
For example, have you ever had something on the tip of your tongue, and just like that, it’s gone?
Or, maybe you’re walking somewhere to get something, and you simply forget mid-walk?
These are telltale signs of needing a brain detox, but before we get into how to detox your brain, let’s look at why it’s important and the science and psychology behind it all.
There’s no denying you’re a busy person; we all are, right?
In light of living such busy lives, many wake up and immediately check email and social media feeds, feeling the need to stay connected.
However, it’s this exact sentiment that overcrowds and clouds our mental activity, and it’s called Busy Life Syndrome (BLS).
This describes how constant “information overload” interferes with our ability to remember basic daily tasks and affects our overall memory and focus levels.
When you see an email you were looking out for or a bunch of likes on the social media photo you posted before bed, it stimulates an increase in your dopamine levels. While adequate dopamine levels can benefit us, an excess can prove to be counterproductive.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter produced by the body and is associated with the central nervous system.
It controls how we feel pleasure and plays a vital role in our brain’s reward system in response to that pleasure.
It could be the pleasure you get from a good meal, a compliment you receive from a crush, being intimate, etc. The brain releases dopamine as a result of the stimulation. Through this reward pathway, dopamine travels throughout other brain regions, shaping different aspects of memory, emotions, focus, and more.
It’s hard to take a closer look at your day to day and admit that you’re indeed “overstimulated,” and if you are, how do you find an effective way to slow down and reduce it?
Overstimulation happens both physiologically and psychologically. When this type of overload occurs, the receptor becomes weakened and less responsive. This is when we see a lapse in memory, concentration, and focus.
Here are some signs your brain might be overstimulated:
Some of the most common reasons for “overstimulation” falls upon technology. In almost every waking aspect of our lives, we’re looking at some type of screen. It’s one of the main reasons society teases that millennials have the attention span of a goldfish.
Back in 2000, the attention span of millennials rang in at 12 seconds. But, now it’s down to eight seconds—falling under the nine-second attention span of a goldfish.
Research shows the fault shouldn’t fall upon millennials, but rather the amount of information they have to process daily, making it next to impossible to demonstrate proper focus and concentration.
That being said, let’s look at how to fix the problem so you can dramatically increase your focus.
A little while back, the tech guru’s over in Silicon Valley believed in something called “dopamine fasting.” They thought implementing severe limitations to “pleasure” would function to rewire the brain.
While some people disagreed with this idea, there is some truth in reducing the intake of certain things—as a means of resetting your tolerance level. The Silicon Valley approach seemed kind of extreme for some, especially since technology is intertwined with nearly every aspect of our lives.
However, there are some things you can do to reduce the amount of stimulation you encounter and get your dopamine back to the level of functionality needed.
The average American spends roughly 11 hours listening, reading, or watching some form of tech-based media. So, naturally, the first thing you want to do is cut back on technology.
You can start by deleting social media apps from your phone, cutting back on email checking (unless it’s for work), cutting out television time—pretty much all forms of technology you intake.
You’re probably wondering what you’re going to do with all this extra time, but don’t worry. Here are some things you can do to reset your brain.
It’s going to be an adjustment, trying to break some of those tech-based habits you’ve formed, but with focused intent and the right amount of motivation, it can be done.
Most people scroll through their phones aimlessly when they wake up in the morning and when they lay down for bed. These are the times you may find hardest, but here’s what to do instead.
Try replacing morning and evening phone time with meditation because it works to rebalance neurochemicals like dopamine. As we’ve discussed, when they’re adequately balanced, focus comes naturally.
You don’t have to go crazy, trying to master the art of meditation.
The next thing you can do is cut back on sugar and caffeine because they also increase your dopamine levels. When we indulge in sugar, caffeine, and other decadent foods, dopamine levels spike from the pleasure we receive. Replace those foods with healthier options that benefit the body in a more positive way.
Did you know when you lack sleep for only one night that your dopamine levels drastically increase? While you’re engaging in your digital detox, work on your sleep schedule, so your mind is prepped for the most productive means the following day.
Lastly, you’ll want to check your prescription medications because some of them are known to increase dopamine levels as well. If you find it’s a continuing issue, you may want to speak to your doctor about other alternatives.
There’s no doubt technology has overtaken every aspect of our lives. It can’t live with it, but can’t live without it.
If you find this happening all too often, it’s time for a brain detox.
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