A difficult task for anyone, but something necessary to conduct our lives in a meaningful fashion.
There are wounds and then there are unhealed wounds. As a result, humans find it difficult to wake up on some days, start their day and get on with their daily routine.
There are different names for this human condition, from ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), to chronic fatigue syndrome and cognitive impairment. But its effects are widespread and do not discriminate against anyone on the basis of their religion, race or social status.
Prior to digging into psychological advice as you might have already guessed, here's something to think about: even many psychologists suffer from concentration problems.
One of the prominent psychologists, who wished to remain anonymous, replied to TRT World, saying, “I have nothing to say about this aside from confessing my own ignorance.”
The cognitive psychologist did not sound like a psychologist. He rather came across as a philosopher when he addressed the question, indicating that the problem might be related to an existential question about life and it may fall in the philosophical realm than in psychology.
Anyway, let’s discuss it in terms of psychology.
According to experts, there are various reasons for concentration problems. But one of the critical causes is rooted in our comfort zones because we know that concentration requires some amount of effort, which could bring pains. And who wants to brace for pain?
As a result, we want to delay things to avoid pain.
“The list of things we can procrastinate about is endless, but the list of reasons for why we procrastinate is not. We avoid every task for the same reason: Taking action will cause us a certain amount of pain,” wrote Phil Stutz, a practicing psychiatrist, and Barry Michels, a practicing psychotherapist.
Maybe you hate your work. Or love it too much
One of the main reasons for concentration problems is directly related to what we do to earn our living. We all know that work can be tiring and at times a painful experience. But even worse, if we aren't happy with our jobs, it's natural if we find it hard to finish our tasks — a situation that triggers worker-employer tensions.
Poor work conditions and challenging job assignments can further increase the stress, which is one of the main reasons why many of us can't focus. It leaves one feeling distracted and tired and causes sleep disorders.
Many concentration problems connect to work-related stress, which might be accelerated by external factors like excessive noise, poor lighting and the condition of your chair, according to experts.
Some of us, particularly those whose occupation requires them to deal with stress all the time, tend to believe that stress actually motivates them to do their job better and increase their concentration.
But they might not be aware that work related stress could blind them from their personal problems and family matters.
“The work culture in many high-pressure fields often rewards working longer hours with raises, prestige, and promotions,” wrote Janna Koretz, a psychologist and founder of Azimuth, which provides therapy focused on the unique challenges of individuals in high-pressure careers.
But the psychologist also thinks that a lot of overworked people tend to identify more with their work than their loved ones, which puts their personal relationships at risk.
“When career success is seen as the ultimate life goal, individuals can feel disconnected from their family and peers if they fail to (or simply choose not to) achieve a certain level of professional success,” Koretz viewed.
“This fear of failure and isolation drives people to center their lives on achieving what is expected of them. This intense focus and drive, however, forces their identities to ultimately become synonymous with their work,” she added.
As a result, the advice all experts, including psychologists, will have for you is to maintain your work-home balance. But this advice might be a complicated one for people working from home these days.
Feeling too tired
Stress causes fatigue. It doesn't matter whether your stress is the byproduct of the efforts you are making to succeed professionally. From a biological perspective, stress doesn't help the human body earn any dividends. It only makes you tired and weakens your focus. It sucks all the energy from you, to the point that you find it hard to have a chat with your wife or child or a friend. In a worse case scenario, it can play some role in causing road accidents.
Let’s explain it in terms of neurological science.
If you feel too tired, it means you either have a vitamin or hormone deficiency.
"If there's a deficiency in thyroid hormone, metabolism slows, which reduces blood flow and cellular function in various parts of the brain," said Dr. Robert Orford, consultant at the Mayo Clinic's Preventive Medicine Division in Scottsdale, Arizona, explaining how concentration problems emerged as a result of tiredness.
Clearly, you need to have rest. But as you return home, you need to focus on your children and partner, which means you will have a very little time for rest.
For those struggling from a sleep disorder or insomnia, stress can cause more fatigue and attention deficiency. One of the main reasons for sleep disorders is depression. Anxiety and other mental illnesses could make you an insomniac, too.
Various studies have shown that sleep disorders are one of the leading causes for the loss of concentration, also referred to as cognitive impairment in neurology.
“Sleep deprivation is associated with considerable social, financial, and health-related costs, in large measure because it produces impaired cognitive performance due to increasing sleep propensity and instability of waking neurobehavioral functions,” said a study of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine scholars.
Sleeplessness also kills our essential brain cells, which are needed for our neurological system, especially when it comes to keeping the human brain alert, according to another study.
What can you do?
Your boss might say a few words of encouragement to ensure you keep slogging even when your body is exhausted and your brain is fried. You may keep your head down and continue giving your best to your boss but only until you end up finding a better job.
But psychiatrists also think that living with concentration problems for whatever reason is not a good idea because this will cause unnecessary delays in your life and make things difficult in the long run.
“Whatever a person’s comfort zone, they pay a huge price for staying inside it. It’s a shrunken world where ideas, opportunities, and new relationships can easily pass us by. Worst of all, procrastinators squander the most precious asset a human can have: time,” observed Stutz and Michels.
“Our time on earth is limited. Every moment is an opportunity we’ll never have again. Procrastinators act as if they had all the time in the world. But deep down, they know they’re wasting parts of their life. The trouble is, most of us don’t know how to free ourselves. That’s why, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, most people “live lives of quiet desperation and die with their song unsung.”