By Mehmet C. Oz, MD, and Michael F. Roizen, MD
Feeling scatterbrained? If you’re having difficulty focusing on a good book, the nightly news, or even your spouse because the kids, pets, phone, TV, flashing e-mail, and more are driving you to distraction, don’t blame the interruptions. It turns out that a prime reason for midlife concentration lapses and late-life memory problems is an increasing inability to filter out the clutter — both human and digital distractions.
A growing stack of studies shows that although 30-something brains can focus on a topic with laser-beam precision while ignoring multiple distractions, older brains have frayed mental filters that let other information in, no matter how hard they’re trying to concentrate. It’s like looking at the world (or at least that pile of paperwork) through a wide-angle lens that also sees the unwashed dinner dishes, the beautiful sunset, the accountant’s memo, or the article you’ve been meaning to read.
Try this 4-step meditation plan for sharper focus
American and Canadian researchers stumbled onto this concentration issue while using MRIs to scan people’s brains as they performed memory-related problem-solving tasks. Older people in the study couldn’t concentrate inside the banging, clanging MRI machines, even when wearing earplugs. Their brain scans revealed the extra mental effort used as they tried to filter out the distracting noise, tipping off researchers to the mental challenges of concentrating.
Here’s how to both minimize age-related distraction problems when you need to focus and how to put them to use when you need to think and see the big picture:
- Turn off distractions. You can recapture much of your sharp focus by removing distractions when you have to do mental work. Don’t pay bills while watching TV. Turn off the radio when you’re starting an important conversation with your spouse or when you’re loading new software onto your computer.
- Clear your desk, organize your house. Visual clutter can slow down your mental capacity so that decision-making takes more time and effort. Give your brain cells less to ponder by sweeping unnecessary stuff from your workspace, cooking area, computer desktop, closets, and even your car.
7 steps to a more organized life
- Turn distractibility into a mental asset. Harness your well-seasoned brain’s ability to retain lots of information by giving “multisensory learning” a whirl. That’s when you use several senses at once to enhance learning and memory. Instead of reading a long magazine article about the growing list of presidential candidates, watch an in-depth TV show about them. Getting the audio and the visual is an asset in this case.
- Enjoy seeing the forest, not just the trees. Having a more flexible mental filter in place means you take in more pleasure, too. Whether you’re walking in the woods, biking on the boardwalk, or people-watching, chances are you’re noticing more than you did in your 20s and 30s. Savor it!
A must see…
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God Made A Dog
Feeling sad, lonely…you don’t need medications, you need some DOG TIME!
I’m a believer in exercise and being active with others; however, there are times when all I want is to hang out with my dog.
A dog is LOVE!
They loves us unconditionally and are always happy to see you return (even if you just left the room and returned, priceless how they acknowledge our presence).
I’m so grateful for my 4-legged blessing who makes my life better.
So many great movies and TV shows based around dogs, from Lassie to My Dog Skip and Homeward Bound. What’s some of your favorites?
Dog is God spelled backwards…a mirroring of what LOVE truly is. TCOY! Coach Lucy
I tried to catch some fog. I mist.
When chemists die, they barium.
Jokes about German sausage are the wurst.
A soldier who survived mustard gas and pepper spray is now a seasoned veteran.
I know a guy who’s addicted to brake fluid. He says he can stop any time.
How does Moses make tea? Hebrews it.
I stayed up all night to see where the sun went. Then it dawned on me.
The girl said she recognized me from the vegetarian club, but I never met herbivore.
I’m reading a book about anti-gravity. I can’t put it down.
I did a theatrical performance about puns. It was a play on words.
They told me I had type A blood, but it was a Type O.
A dyslexic man walks into a bra.
Why were the Indians here first? They had reservations.
Class trip to the Coca-Cola factory. I hope there’s no pop quiz.
Energizer Bunny arrested: Charged with battery.
I didn’t like my beard at first. Then it grew on me.
What do you call a dinosaur with an extensive vocabulary? A thesaurus.
When you get a bladder infection, urine trouble.
What does a clock do when it’s hungry? It goes back four seconds.
I wondered why the baseball was getting bigger. Then it hit me!
Broken pencils are pointless.
We’ve increased technology yet become more sedentary, stressed and isolated. 24/7 techno junkies. Technology can be an addiction and anything to an extreme results in imbalance, thus will produce issues.
Brad Keywell blog post
Wellness is about balance: head, heart and body. Often a person is depleted in one or two areas and the consequences are revealed. For example, if a persons priority is to lose weight, beware. Granted there has been a short term goal and commitment; however, if it is not attached with an emotional long term goal (lifestyle vs. losing weight), the roller coaster will most likely continue. Instead, decide to get healthy and in the process you will need to lose weight.
There are many apps and technology tools to help; however, the motivation needs to be internal. Dig a little deeper and get to know your “why”. Attach emotions to it too. Then, when those challenging days come, and they will, remind yourself of your WHY.
Technology may wake you in the morning and be a part of your everyday life; but utilize it well. Remember to embrace face-to-face relationships, enjoy nature and relaxing without your phone or computer . Detox from technology for a few hours each day and even for a day.
I remember taking a week’s vacation to the Bahamas’ with my teenage daughter a few years ago. We choice to detox with no cell phones or e-mail. The first day we were adjusting to the disconnect but after that, the vacation time was truly that…a vacation.
Are you plugged in 24/7? Take my TCOY Challenge and detox from technology. Spring is here…get outside and enjoy all Mother Nature has to offer.
BREATHE: Inhale WELLNESS. Exhale sickness.
Your HEALTH is calling…don’t wait for the 911 call to answer. Coach Lucy
Don’t Halt During the Holiday Season.
Like the last two minutes of an intense football game, the year end can be difficult to keep up with as there typically seems to be less time and more things to do. Schedules and routines are often lost in the hustle and bustle of the season. But take heart and allow me to share some simple tips that can make the next month and beyond more rewarding emotionally and physically.
- ACTION REQUIRED – Keep Moving! While getting to the health club or workout in during the holidays, you can still find time for movement by thinking ahead and making a plan. Everyone feels better after having worked out as it releases tension, stress and is great for your overall health. Keep things simple, and consider a more basic routine, the key is doing something. Consider using some of your family time to take a walk after dinner and the family dog would love this too! Going up and down…do some step workouts. Stretching is another easy to do wherever you are activity. For strength training, take 5-10 minutes and do some quick lunges, squats and push-ups, or take the stairs rather than the elevator. If you are used to a full exercise schedule, it’s ok to reduce the amount of activity, but you won’t want to start off the New Year feeling out of shape, carrying extra pounds and sore muscles. Be sure and keep hydrated with H2O!!
- SHOULDERS & HEAD BACK…Posture. Whether you are waiting in line at the store, watching a movie or working on the computer, take note of you posture. Are you slouching? This not only is bad for you back but impacts your breathing too. Be kind to your spine and it will support you well. Make a pack with family and friends to hold each other accountable, it’s easy to do, easy not to do.
- TAKE FIVE – Refocus and remember, this too shall pass (good or bad). We often fail to realize that stress is primarily self-induced. How we react to things is in our control. Granted, hormones play a significant role, but we are wise when we can take five and step away from the intensity to regroup and center ourselves again. Let go and breathe (through your nose): Take five deep breaths, inhale for five, exhale for five and repeat five times. Empty your mind.
Perhaps most important of all, try to focus on what you have not what you don’t have. Spend time with friends and family, or maybe just some extra time alone. Personally, I believe it’s a wonderful time to slow down and reflect on priorities. Remember, there is always someone worse off and when you see someone without a smile, give them yours.
Be mindful…Life is a journey not a destination. Take a moment to watch this inspiring video of people practicing random acts of kindness and love.
Happy Thanksgiving and may the holiday season be a blessing to you and your family.