As we reach maturity, the neural networks that govern cognitive control should be well-honed, you would think, but for some of us there are developing issues around that. In theory years of learning and experience have conditioned our brains to discriminate between important information and distractions.
Your capacity to focus and concentrate deserves to be at its best. However, the variables of daily life will inevitably throw obstacles in your path. To stay mentally tip-top, it’s important to recognize and address the physical and emotional factors that interfere with your focus and concentration.
When I was a little girl, my father used to shake his head in despair helping me with my maths, not because I was useless, well maybe just a little useless, but more because I was easily distracted. He was attempting to educate me on the techniques of mathematics, techniques I should have been learning at school. I was distracted easily and more than likely deficient in essential fatty acids. I know that now, but of course, I was oblivious to that while struggling with my equations! There is another reason for my mathematical decline, and that was interpretation. You see my maths teacher was Egyptian, (I love Egyptian people) it was her ascent, it was so very strong, I had such difficulty in understanding her, and so the lazy part of my brain just switched into ‘I can’t deal with this, I don’t understand.
You see my brain, like yours, is an organ made up of flesh-and-blood. It can take in stimuli and store so much!, The brain is highly sensitive to outside forces, protected by a boney skull, but still vulnerable to invisible * EMFs (1. Electro-Magnetic Fields) and VOC’s (2. Volatile Organic Compounds)*
There’s a lot happening in your body—from aging to diseases to lifestyle factors such as sleep and alcohol use—that will play a key role in your ability to pay attention and focus. So will the ‘neurochemical fluctuations‘ that govern your mood. Let’s take a closer look at one of the things that can cause you to lose focus.
Your Mobile Phone!
Love it or hate it, (and I know you love it) we live in the digital age and there’s no going back. But today’s tsunami of digital distractions can pose challenges to the neural networks that regulate attention.
In many ways, our ever-present smartphones inhibit the ability to remain focused on a task. The most obvious distractions are the alerts that come from the phone itself. Simply hearing the sound or feeling the vibration provides enough distraction to interfere with a task, even if you don’t take time to view the message. Once you’ve engaged with the phone, such as to answer a call, it’s easy to let your attention drift to other phone-related activities, such as answering email. Icons, bright colors, and catchy tunes heighten the attraction of these apps and enhance their ability to draw focus away from other tasks.
The pull is even stronger for activities we do for pleasure, such as engaging with social media or playing a game. Research has shown that social media cues, such as ‘likes’ on one of our posts or pictures of our friends laughing, trigger a surge in dopamine, the neurotransmitter associated with pleasure and reward, which may diminish the motivation to pay attention to anything else. Have you experienced this sensation?
Counteract Digital Use:
One of the things I do to ‘counteract my digital use’ is to go outside. I am fortunate, I have a garden. I deliberately spend time in the green zones of my garden to counteract the invasive collateral damage of using my electronic devices. I match at least 1 hour of green time to 2 hours of screen time. When I haven’t done this, I feel drained, crave chocolate, and experience adrenal palpitations, which end up making me edgy.
According to a 2018 survey by the technology company Asurion, most mobile phone users check their mobile phones an average of 80 times a day; the highest users surveyed topped 300 daily checks. But each time we interrupt something we were doing to check our phones, we break our concentration and have to start over.
In addition to the distraction factor inherent in media use, exposure to blue light emitted by phone, tablet, and computer screens can produce insomnia.
My biggest hint for you..Stop sleeping with your mobile phone, except if you are Jack Ryan in the Tom Clancey novels, then that would make sense! This single most effective change is probably the biggest game-changer. Get used to doing activities without your phone!
A 2017 study published in the journal Chronobiology International, involving young adults in their 20s, showed that blue-light exposure before bed cuts down sleep time by roughly 16 minutes. *(3) Blue-light exposure (see more in this article), also reduced the body’s production of melatonin, a hormone that is connected with normal sleep cycles.
- (1) Electric and magnetic fields (EMFs) are invisible areas of energy, often referred to as Radiation, that is associated with the use of electrical power and various forms of natural and man-made lighting. EMFs are typically grouped into one of two categories by their frequency:
- Non-ionizing: low-level radiation which is generally perceived as harmless to humans
- Ionizing: high-level radiation which has the potential for cellular and DNA damage
*(2) VOC’s are a large group of chemicals that are found in many products we use to build and maintain our homes. Once these chemicals are in our homes, they are released or “off-gas” into the indoor air we breathe).
*Although it is environmentally friendly, blue light can affect your sleep and potentially cause disease. Until the advent of artificial lighting, the sun was the major source of lighting, and people spent their evenings in (relative) darkness. Now, in much of the world, evenings are illuminated, and we take our easy access to all those lumens pretty much for granted. But we may be paying a price for basking in all that light. At night, light throws the body’s biological clock—the circadian rhythm—out of whack. Sleep suffers. Worse, research shows that it may contribute to the causation of cancer, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.
(3) What is Blue Light? Not all colors of light have the same effect. Blue wavelengths—which are beneficial during daylight hours because they boost attention, reaction times, and mood—seem to be the most disruptive at night. And the proliferation of electronics with screens, as well as energy-efficient lighting, is increasing our exposure to blue wavelengths, especially after sundown.
Everyone has slightly different circadian rhythms, but the average length is 24 and one-quarter hours. The circadian rhythm of people who stay up late is slightly longer, while the rhythms of earlier birds fall short of 24 hours. Dr. Charles Czeisler of Harvard Medical School showed, in 1981, that daylight keeps a person’s internal clock aligned with the environment.
Is nighttime light exposure bad?
Some studies suggest a link between exposure to light at night, such as working the night shift, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. That’s not proof that nighttime light exposure causes these conditions; nor is it clear why it could be bad for us. It is also a fact that your alertness, intelligence, and awareness may diminish if your sleep is interrupted. So nighttime light exposure plays a role in this!
Exposure to light suppresses the secretion of melatonin, a hormone that influences circadian rhythms. Even dim light can interfere with a person’s circadian rhythm and melatonin secretion. A mere eight lux—a level of brightness exceeded by most table lamps and about twice that of a night light—has an effect. Light at night is part of the reason so many people don’t get enough sleep, and researchers have linked short sleep to increased risk for depression, as well as diabetes and cardiovascular problems. Also a reduction in our ability to ‘Focus’.
Effects of blue light and sleep:
While the light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, blue light at night does so more powerfully. Harvard researchers and their colleagues conducted an experiment comparing the effects of 6.5 hours of exposure to blue light to exposure to green light of comparable brightness. The blue light suppressed melatonin for about twice as long as the green light and shifted circadian rhythms by twice as much (3 hours vs. 1.5 hours).
Using Lavender Peace essential oil blend (also known as Serenity) in a diffuser just before you go to sleep can help to counter some of the many saboteurs, enemies of experiencing an artful and restorative sleep.
LED blue light exposure
If blue light does have adverse health effects, then environmental concerns, and the quest for energy-efficient lighting, could be at odds with personal health. Those curlicue compact fluorescent lightbulbs and LED lights are much more energy-efficient than the old-fashioned incandescent lightbulbs we grew up with. But they also tend to produce more blue light.
The physics of fluorescent lights can’t be changed, but coatings inside the bulbs can be so they produce a warmer, less blue light.
Protect yourself from blue light at night: Improve Sleep:
- Use dim red lights for night lights. Red light is less likely to shift circadian rhythm and suppress melatonin.
- Avoid looking at bright screens beginning two to three hours before bed.
- If you work a night shift or use a lot of electronic devices at night, consider wearing blue-blocking glasses or installing an app that filters the blue/green wavelength at night.
- Expose yourself to lots of bright light during the day, which will boost your ability to sleep at night, as well as your mood and alertness during daylight.
Now back to distractions, it’s inevitable that you will be distracted, it’s not so much about attempting to block all distractions, it’s more a question of specific times in your day that you put aside to focus. This can be meditation, this can be simply lying down, applying some Frankincense essential oil to the back of your neck, and setting an alarm for a 15-minute rest and restoration session.
You can also use other essential oils and blends.
I have put together a special Pack of essential oils, which I refer to as my ‘Secret Agent Focus Kit‘. It includes 4 mood essential oil blends - Elevation, Lavender Peace, Balance & Citrus Bliss; 15ml Frankincense, and 10ml Frankincense touch, 10ml In Tune Focus Blend, Lose Weight Book, and mystery essential oil. The total value of this kit including my extra gifts is $500.00. Save $125.00 and purchase at wholesale for this month of March.
For a summary on this kit, which is available on-demand by writing to me at email@example.com. I’ll be happy to send you the summary and include extra notes to do with the kit offer.
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Don’t allow yourself to be distracted, and even more importantly don’t be a victim of ignorance when there really is something you can do about it. x Annie