Why will this help me?
Quite simply, better concentration helps you to fully focus on the activity at hand, making you more productive and relaxed. This type of training means that your mind tends not to wander off down the dark path of unhelpful thoughts, obsession and overthinking. Concentration exercises are also quick and with practices starting at 4 minutes per day, they are fairly easy to fit into the busiest schedule. These exercises are associated with other techniques such as relaxation – see Progressive Muscular Relaxation (PMR).
Step-by-Step Exercises to Stop Overthinking.
- All you need is somewhere comfortable to sit where you can be by yourself.
- Begin with the first exercise- repeat once a day until you’re able to do it confidently without any interruptions for at least three minutes. After a few weeks of practice you can increase the time to 15 minutes.
Becoming fully comfortable and confident with these exercises can take anywhere from a few days to a few months so take your time and try not to push yourself too hard at first. If you’re finding it difficult to keep focussed, do not worry as this is very common. Everyone’s experiences vary and eventually you will be able to perform these exercises without becoming distracted. The key is to remain cool, calm and collected.
It is important to be honest with yourself. Fully attend to the exercises and avoid thinking about anything else. If you do find yourself becoming distracted, stop the exercise and start again at least until the 10 or 15 minutes that you have set for yourself has lapsed
Once you’ve become confident in your accuracy, increase the time and when possible add a second session.For example, add an additional week of practice to each one.
The Concentration Challenges
Begin by doing the first task for 4 minutes. Once that is completed, move onto doing the rest of the exercises for 10 minutes, choosing a quiet place and time in which to do so. Only move onto the next exercise once you’ve completed the previous one. If you are disrupted or become distracted, start the exercise over again.
Choose a paragraph from a book and then count the words in it. Stop, and then repeat. If you’ve counted the same number of words both times, repeat the counting process but this time with two paragraphs. Once you’re confident in your ability to carry out this exercise, count the words of an entire page. Count mentally and only using your eyes.
Count Backwords in your mind from 100 to 1 in 3’s. I.e. 100, 97, 94 to 1.
Begin by picking a simple sound or inspiring word. Then repeat it silently in your mind for 5 minutes. Once you find it easy to concentrate on only doing this, repeat the exercise for up to 10 minutes without interruption.
Select a fruit of your choice, then pick it up and hold it in your hands. Closely examine it- its smell, the way it feels and its taste. Concentrate on that taste without letting any other thoughts distract you.
This is similar to exercise 4, however after 2 minutes of examining the fruit (as you did in exercise 4) put it down and close your eyes. Then, try to see, smell, taste and touch the fruit in your imagination. Try to imagine the fruit as clearly as possible. If the picture becomes distorted, open your eyes and look at the fruit for a little while, and then close your eyes and continue with the exercise.
Pick up something small and simple such as a spoon or fork and concentrate on it. Observe the object from all angles without thinking of any words that relate to it, i.e. without verbalisation/saying the words.
Ken McLeish is Principal Therapist at Reflexions Counselling and Therapy in Newcastle upon Tyne, England. Reflexions provides counselling and therapy for a wide range of issues. He can be contacted through the website: https://counselling-newcastle.co.uk .
Information contained in this blog is not a substitute for face-to-face therapy. It can only every be one view of a situation and may not be applicable to your situation. You are advised to seek specialist support. The work here is a personal view which may change over time and should not be taken as representative of Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy.
Ken McLeish BA DMS MBA MSc MSc Cert Ed UKCP Reg
Reflexions Counselling and Psychotherapy
Alderman Fenwicks House, NE1 6SQ