Do thoughts race around in your mind like a swarm of bees? With all those thoughts sprinting around in your mind, you’d think one of them would claim your attention. But none of them seem to “step into the spotlight”!

Increasing the right kind of chemicals in your brain will reduce the “clutter” in your mind

If racing or cluttered thoughts is a problem for you, biochemistry has got your back! Taking charge of your brain's neurotransmitters is a great way to improve your attention and concentration - even for boring, mundane or irritating tasks.

Here are some tips for helping one idea step into the spotlight so you can rivet your attention on it as long as necessary and get your important stuff done!

Harness the power of your RAS!

We have a sort of “Beat Cop” in our brains called the Reticular Activating System (or RAS for short). The RAS has several jobs, including waking up the brain to make it alert and attentive. You can turn on your RAS whenever you want better attention and concentration!

  • Eat Crunchy Foods (carrots or chips)
  • Use Strong Aromas (cinnamon or mint)
  • Fidgety behaviors are really great (twist, swivel in your chair, or balance on one foot)

Exercise turns our brains on!

Our brains are more active during exercise than any other activity we engage in. Exercise is a natural way to trigger one of the brain chemicals so helpful in managing the symptoms of ADHD - dopamine.

The executive area of the brain - the part that controls activities that people with ADHD often find challenging such as planning, prioritizing, breaking down tasks into manageable steps, organization, memory, mood, motivation and follow through - is switched on during exercise, and the effects last for some time after we stop moving.

Exercise improves our memory and helps our brain learn new habits, routines, and facts. Exercise promotes sleep and is a natural depression fighter.

The best types of exercise encourage the development of connections between parts of the brain and in addition, stimulate the brain to release neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin. What are the most effective types of exercise for managing the symptoms of ADHD? The activity:

  • Is an aerobic activity - your heart and breathing rates are higher than normal
  • Involves making plans, making quick changes and remaining alert
  • Involves cooperation with others
  • Has personal meaning for you
  • Is enjoyable and fun!

Some examples of exercises that have these characteristics are dancing, soccer, tennis, gymnastics, martial arts, running, walking, and juggling.

Focus on finding something you look forward to and something that keeps your mind occupied. Find an activity where exercise is a secondary consideration and enjoyment and connection to other people and your values is the primary attraction for you.

The bottom line is - do something meaningful, do it with others, do it almost every day, and HAVE FUN!

If your brain is not getting the right nutrients, your mind is paying the price

One of the brain chemicals responsible for attention, concentration and controlling movements of the body is the neurotransmitter, dopamine. Having more dopamine available in the brain diminishes the symptoms of ADHD.

Dopamine is manufactured from protein so eating adequate amounts of protein during the day will give your brain the nutrients it needs to stay focused and alert.

Fortunately, there are many animal and plant sources of protein. Animal foods containing protein include meat, fish and dairy products. Plant-based proteins are found in legumes, nuts, seeds and grains. You’ll get better results if you choose widely from the available protein sources. This will optimize your brain's functioning and also improve your health.

The typical American breakfast often is loaded with carbohydrate foods such as waffles, bagels, and toast. Unfortunately, starting your day with lots of carbs - particularly the simple carbs that are found in flour-foods or juice (not whole fruits) - can significantly increase the chances that your attention, concentration, and positive mood will be destroyed!

Water helps you pay attention and concentrate

The brain is 75% water and functions by conducting electrical impulses. Your mind will function more quickly and smoothly if your body is properly hydrated.

Mineral-rich water is the most healthful type of water for our bodies. Choose natural spring water, artesian water, well water, or mineral water.

Keep a bottle of water nearby and sip it during periods of stress. Stuck in traffic - take a sip! Deadline coming up - get out the mineral water!

You can naturally consume more water without drinking it by simply eating more fruits and vegetables!

Sleep is your brain's master regulator switch!

Ah! The magical, restorative power of sleep! Unfortunately, getting enough good quality sleep can be a challenge for many people with ADHD.

Getting better quality sleep will improve your concentration, memory, and disorganization. It will improve word retrieval and emotional balance. Consistently getting a good night's sleep has a positive benefit on your physical and mental health, your weight, your relationships, your happiness level, and your performance at work.

If sleep is a problem for you, it may help to relax your nervous system for at least an hour every night before turning off the light.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to calm your body so your mind can rest:

  • take a warm shower or bath
  • use soothing smells such as lavender either as a lotion or potpourri
  • put on soothing music or a favorite DVD, lie down, close your eyes and just listen
  • learn reiki or chakra meditation techniques to take control of your body’s energy system

Increasing dopamine and serotonin gets the job done!

If you are not giving your body the things it needs to run smoothly, your attention and concentration will suffer. But you can get control and focus your day if you get your brain's chemistry on your side! Increasing your brain's dopamine and serotonin will help one idea "step into the spotlight" so you can rivet your attention on it long enough to get stuff done!

There are other really cool ways to stimulate your brain to release dopamine and serotonin so you can focus on your meaningful tasks. Grab a copy of FOCUS Strategies for Women with ADHD - A proven system to stay attentive, on target and in control. I share a few of my best tips for getting focused and I even show you how to combine them into a successful system so you can stop the cycle of overwhelm and blame, get control of your time, and feel good about how much you accomplish

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Kari Miller - ADHD & Productivity Coaching For Women and Students

Imagine finally feeling focused, confident and in control of your time and your tasks. What would it be like to release the frustration and shame and finally be able to skillfully manage your home, your career and your life! If you've tried all the "traditional" approaches to time and task management, but the pieces haven't come together for you yet, contact me - I can help!

To contact Dr. Miller