How can you concentrate under stress

Difficulty concentrating: how to prevent them

Everyone knows them and nobody needs them: Difficulty concentrating. And of course they always occur when we urgently need our concentration: In exam situations, when we are sitting in the exam and need to access knowledge or for tasks for which we would have to concentrate strongly. Concentration disorders cause acute problems, but usually arise in advance. Here you can find out why you have difficulty concentrating and what you can do about it ...

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

➠ Content: This is what awaits you

Definition: what are concentration disorders?

Concentration disorders are initially nothing unusual. They can occur at any age, in the elderly as well as in children. What is meant is the inability, his concentration, his focus like that to focus on one thingthat this task is done satisfactorily.

Instead, thoughts wander, the person is daydreaming and even the smallest noise can make him dissuade you from your real goal.

From a medical point of view, a distinction is made between one short-term difficulty concentrating and one that lasts longer or even permanent lack of concentration. However, the terms are often used synonymously. Concentration disorders - especially if they only occur briefly - can be of a temporary nature and are not a cause for concern.

However, they can be one as well Indication of a serious illness which is why those affected should clarify this in any case if the problem occurs frequently and / or for a long time.

Causes: Internal and external factors

The range of possible causes for concentration disorders is wide. In some cases you can choose between internal and external factors differ, in others there is overlap or both areas are mutually dependent.

Because partly it is own behavior or that of others, which is counterproductive and can affect your performance. In this case, external also means: Others feel the same way, pretty much everyone would have difficulty concentrating under these conditions.

In other cases a genetic disposition contribute to people having great difficulty sorting their thoughts. For those affected, the following points are an opportunity to subject their own framework conditions to a test and see whether they can be considered as possible triggers.

Rather external causes the following points can be assigned:

  • multitasking

    A popular misconception is that of the tasks that we all want and can do at the same time. Unfortunately, multitasking does not work. Our bodies do different things at the same time - they can eat and listen, breathe, see and so on at the same time. But as soon as it comes to complex things, for example following a phone call about a problem in a concentrated manner, answering a complaint email in detail and possibly also writing an invoice, then there are limits to multitasking. Only one task is actually processed at a time. However, because we tear ourselves away and turn back to one of the other tasks instead of finishing one in one piece, we need longer for the individual and thus for all tasks together.

  • Disruptions

    The noise from the construction site, noisy colleagues in the open-plan office, but also the quiet notification sound of an incoming WhatsApp message or an e-mail contribute to the fact that we are torn from our work process. According to studies, it takes on average up to 15 minutes to get back to the topic so far that we can fully concentrate on the task and know which step to take next.

  • lack of sleep

    Difficulty concentrating can also be caused by a lack of sleep. This is one of the points that can be seen as both an internal and an external factor. As a rule, every employee has it under control when he goes to bed. He has to ensure enough sleep himself; he is already obliged to do so by an employment contract. But of course there can be work-related circumstances that do not allow this, for example when working in shifts.

  • Medication

    It is not uncommon for taking necessary medication to lead to undesirable side effects. Concentration disorders can be caused, for example, by chemotherapy. Doctors refer to this side effect as "chemobrain". The antihistamines necessary for allergy sufferers also often lead to side effects in the form of fatigue, which in turn makes it much more difficult to concentrate.

  • Weather

    Fatigue due to heat and stale air is not uncommon. But weather changes, the much-feared springtime tiredness or gray November days can negatively affect concentration: The lack of light increases tiredness despite adequate sleep.

There are also more internal causes, for example:

  • Self-discipline

    A lack of self-discipline can have an effect similar to multitasking. If you are easily distracted and surround yourself with things that encourage distraction, you score an own goal. This includes, for example, having the switched on mobile phone always ready to hand and reacting immediately to every private message. They tear themselves out of the work process again and again because the direct reward (in the form of an entertaining occupation) is assessed as more pleasant and more important than the necessary work process.

  • Diseases

    Various diseases cause concentration disorders. These include, for example, dementia and attention deficit disorder (ADD or ADHD). Difficulty concentrating are also a symptom of depression and low blood pressure, circulatory disorders and malnutrition, and alcohol and drug abuse.

  • To care

    People who are driven by great concern find it difficult to focus on the things at hand. This can include stress at work or existential worries. Even someone who is in deep grief takes longer to turn off the carousel of thoughts.

  • Biorhythm

    Your own biorhythm can also become a problem. Is it to be evaluated as an internal factor when a night owl has difficulties in the morning, or rather as an external factor, since this problem hardly arises with suitable working hours? The fact is that not every employee can choose his or her own working hours. Even with normal working hours, it is possible that someone goes to bed early enough, but still hangs in front of the computer like a zombie at noon and cannot utter a clear sentence. Often the schnitzel coma has struck.

Difficulty concentrating in children

Concentration disorders can be observed in children even at a young age. One possible cause is ADHD, but no hasty conclusions should be drawn here. Not every child who exhibits difficulty concentrating automatically suffers from attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. If it is difficult to concentrate, the possible triggers for children are also complex and extensive like adults.

To the physical Causes of Concentration Disorders in children, for example, too little sleep or a lack of exercise count. Children have a very strong urge to move and should be able to live it out.

It is important that too psychological triggers cannot be ignored. Children can experience stress and high expectations, which can encourage difficulty concentrating. Another possibility are drastic and traumatic experiences that were not processed properly.

Tips against Concentration Disorders: Here's What You Can Do

Forgetfulness due to lack of sleep is one thing. But suddenly the concentration disorders appear and you are like that no explanation whatsoever - for example one of the reasons mentioned above - you should definitely see a doctor.

The same applies if the Aggravate discomfort or even experience other symptoms such as dizziness or cold hands. If physical causes can be ruled out, for example through a blood count, various tests and questionnaires can determine ADHD.

While illness can be the cause of poor concentration, it is much more common that it is caused by the things we do or not do. Therefore, it is primarily a matter of creating certain framework conditions as a preventive measure so that they do not occur in the first place:

  • Eat healthy

    A lack of important nutrients in the body can lead to concentration problems. A balanced diet will help your health in general, and especially against concentration problems. For example, those who eat one-sidedly because of a diet or other eating habits damage their concentration. Carbohydrates provide valuable energy, but protein and vitamins also prevent concentration disorders. Don't forget: Drink enough fluids, preferably around 1.5 to 2 liters of water per day.

  • Reduce your coffee and alcohol consumption

    Many need a morning coffee to get going. However, too much caffeine can make it difficult to concentrate. The stimulating effect makes you restless (with excessive consumption) and makes it difficult to focus your thoughts on just one topic. Alcohol is also dangerous, especially if it is drunk regularly. An occasional glass of wine or beer is of course allowed, but with alcohol: less is more.

  • Make sure you get enough exercise

    This is especially important for employees who have a sedentary job and / or drive a lot by car. Compensation for this - ideally in fresh air - stimulates the oxygen supply. In addition, you get other thoughts when you engage in physical activity instead of mental activity, such as jogging. You should invest 30 minutes for yourself three to four times a week. This then promotes creativity.

  • Get enough sleep

    A good night's sleep is the be-all and end-all against poor concentration. However, some people have the problem of “coming down” in the evening after a grueling day at work. Relaxation exercises such as yoga, autogenic training or meditation can help here. Also important: Avoid reading or working on a laptop or smartphone two hours before going to bed. The bluish light that is emitted by these devices contributes to the fact that the internal clock is disturbed and switched to "day mode". In the meantime you can reduce the blue component with various apps, but the activity itself shortly before sleep leads to the fact that you become more awake again.

  • Make sure you have enough breaks

    Sufficient breaks are very important during working hours. Some people make the mistake of equating breaks with laziness and underestimating their enormous impact. But we need breaks for our ability to regenerate so that we can clear our heads again. You don't lose any time. Those who take a break then gain time because they can work much more focused and faster than if they simply worked through.

  • Escape the overstimulation

    People are exposed to innumerable stimuli all the time and everywhere. Sounds, smells, bright colors, movements. The brain tries to perceive and process everything. We are conditioned to experience our environment and to be aware of everything. The more often and longer you are exposed to this overstimulation, the greater the difficulty concentrating. Take a rest, switch off, don't do everything at once.

  • Do concentration exercises

    If a person shows dementia or Alzheimer's disease as a result of old age, for example, the treatment options have so far been limited. This is no longer about a return to the original memory performance, but rather a slowing down of the decline in performance. This can be achieved by solving crossword puzzles, playing memory or completing Sudoku. Newer approaches use computer games for people with dementia. But brain teasers also benefit healthy people, adults and children.

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22nd September 2020Author: Anja Rassek

Anja Rassek studied, among other things, German at the WWU in Münster. She worked for community radio and a publisher. Here she devotes herself to topics relating to the office, everyday work and studies.

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