Sometimes the hardest thing to do in the world is to be consistent. To not do anything and be still or otherwise; to be that body in Newton's 1st law of motion which remains at rest or in motion until acted upon by ‘external’ factors. Though considered a universal law, interestingly and ironically it fails to apply to us as we change our course of action when acted upon by ‘internal’ impulses.
Normally, these internal factors are temptations to provide stimulation to our senses occurring frequently. Today’s world is so dynamic and fast-paced that every other second it throws out a new facet, a new product to be astounded upon. One second we are reading a book, the next we find ourselves scrolling through memes. We are constantly drowning in options and gadgets and screens which pull us in a million directions all at once. We are so accustomed to continuously stimulating our senses that it has made our attention span reduce drastically.
According to a Harvard study, people spend 47% of their waking hours zoned out or distracted. While everyone normally gets distracted from time to time, having a short attention span frequently troubles one in focusing on tasks and conversations affecting their professional and personal life. So, let’s look at some of the ways to improve our attention span.
Yoga is a wonderful ancient Indian practice that is regarded globally as a holistic means of good physical and mental health and alternative medicine. According to one experimental study, groups who practiced Yogic asanas like Surya Namaskar, Padmasana, Sarvangasana, Paschimottanasana, and Shavasana for 30 mins regularly for 12 weeks were found to have increased attention by significant margins.
Instead of forcing our brain to process notifications and social media feeds, give ourselves at least a few minutes each day to practice meditation. Meditation can help to keep checks and balances over the unwanted mental pop-ups by practically focussing on our fundamental self which in turn helps in gaining control over the actions which otherwise are involuntary. This works similar to an ad blocker, notifying us that something is trying to invade our space but we master control at the same time.
- Staying Hydrated
Believe it or not, attention span is also dependent upon how hydrated our body is. Our brain is nearly 75% water. Water facilitates communication between brain cells, and flushes away toxins and waste that impair brain function. One study concludes that “dehydration impairs cognitive performance, particularly for tasks involving attention, executive function, and motor coordination when water deficits exceed 2%”. So keep calm and drink water.
- Waking Up Early
Indian culture has always placed a high value on getting up early for physical and mental development since ancient times. In a study where a test group was asked to rise before 4:30 am based on the traditional Indian astrological calculations. The group after 20 days showed a significant improvement in the net scores for digit letter substitution task as well as scores for verbal and spatial memory tasks proving the benefits of early rising.
- The Raga Effect
Music has long been acknowledged for its ability to uplift the spirit. But believe it or not, music can be used to enhance cognitive capacities, especially attention. Since ancient times ‘ragas’ have been known to cure physical and mental ailments. As per one study, listening to short symphonies or Indian classical music was found to improve attentiveness and focus.
The world calls for exploration and everyday we find something new and enticing. But it is paramount to gain control over the urge of mindless exposure. Just like our electronic systems, we also have a finite memory slot and processing unit that may lag and not provide speed to crucial fundamental tasks if not taken care of. With the right mindset and discipline, and by following the above pointers, one can eventually lessen the effect of these unwanted pop-ups appearing in our subtle space.