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Concentration

Is there anything I can do to improve my concentration?

Question

I am having problems at work due to lack of concentration. The office is busy and target driven. Switching and juggling jobs isn't easy and I tend to rush, so I make mistakes. Then I get frustrated and angry and the same during happens again. I find it very hard to focus on the job in hand and complete it would acupuncture help?

Answer

From your description, it seems that you are under tremendous stress. As I explain in my book The Integrated Health Bible, the mind gets stressed due to three main reasons: deadlines, dilemmas and relationships.

Targets and deadlines agitate the brain, which likes to work at its own pace rather than being hurried. Similarly, the brain finds it very stressful when it has to decide between two opposing choices -what I call a 'to be or not to be' dilemma. You have many work responsibilities, with attendant targets and deadlines, and you find yourself unable to prioritise, so your brain is agitated and stressed.

The third problem - relationships - is often the greatest. Both at work, with colleagues, and at home, with family or housemates, people act out roles dictated by their head, which means that it's difficult to communicate from the heart or soul. This often leads to complex situations, which are difficult to confront and 'solve. Office politics and family pressures, compounded by gossip, give rise to jealousy and maliciousness. The problems are often not expressed in words but through body language and bad atmospheres. In this situation, people tend to experience disturbing sensations, not because of what someone has said but because of a 'gut feeling'. This is very stressful because you can't argue back defend yourself or really confront the issue, as you have no proof of what is going on.

When you are stressed, your neck gets tight. A crying child or anxious dog has exactly the same reaction. This tightness decreases the supply of blood and cerebrospinal fluid to the brain. This, in turn, causes malfunction of the subconscious part of the brain. This affects concentration, short-term memory, sleep, emotions and other vital activities. Also, chronic fatigue can reduce overall brainpower.

Other factors that have the same effect include using computers all day, whiplash injuries and falls. Traumas to the neck including intensive dental work or blows to the head, can lead to some vertebrae in the cervical spine being out of alignment, again causing restriction of blood flow through the vertebral arteries. Low blood pressure, anaemia and nutritional deficiencies (l am particularly worried about junk food, nonorganic food and vegan diets) can also have an effect on brain function.

My advice is as follows

  • Avoid coffee and chocolate, and excess sugar, salt and alcohol, because these have a direct negative effect on the brain which is already agitated.
  • Avoid any foods containing yeast (eg, bread, pizza, Marmite, brewer's yeast, ready-made sauces, canned soups, beer, etc) as they brew toxic alcohol in the gut and this may cause fatigue and stress.
  • Sleep on one pillow only: it's better for the neck and the circulation of blood to the brain.
  • If you don’t sleep well, take one capsule of the Ayurvedic herbal supplement at bedtime for a month.
  • Use my Daily Meditation and Yoga cassette to relax and calm the brain before bed; this will help you to focus on your breathing and improve your concentration. The more you focus on your breathing and concentrate on the areas that the tape mentions, the better your mental capacity will be.
  • Practise yoga: helpful postures include the cobra, turtle, swing and child pose. The corpse pose is also very good for concentration. Full details of these are given in Therapeutic Yoga, the book I co-wrote with Jiwan Brar.
  • Take the following nutritional supplements: Multivitamins and Minerals, one daily for three months; Bioprash Ayurvedic tonic, one tablespoonful daily with honey. If you are a vegetarian, take Energy Plus protein supplement, one scoop twice daily with milk or water for three months.
  • Finally, yes, I do recommend acupuncture.
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