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Stress and Concentration
by Trevor Dumbleton
Those who are under stress, yet refuse to get help for it, need to understand
the relationship between stress & concentration in order to understand why they
need to relax. This is because, at first, it seems though stress is an aid to
concentration. However, this is not the case in the long term.
Long-term stress & concentration do not go hand-in-hand. In fact, the more that
one is stressed, the less able they are to concentrate. However, people often
keep themselves under stress in order to help their concentration, despite the
fact that it is doing them absolutely no good. Usually, this is because they
believe that stress is helping their concentration.
In fact, stress does help concentration for a short period of time. This is
because the body is dumping chemicals into the brain to help it focus and
throwing adrenaline into the bloodstream in order to heighten the senses. This
helps the body hone in on its tasks and helps it to focus. This is, in the
beginning, a good thing. Short-term stress really does help your concentration
at first, which is very useful when you need to hammer out last-minute paper for
school, a report for your boss, or you need to quickly fix some computer
problems that are keeping others from getting their work done. Unfortunately,
the short-term effects do not last.
As you spend more and more time under stress, your ability to concentrate
lessens. The brain will have fired off so many neurons that it cannot replenish
its supply of chemicals that helps the neurons fire. As well, that boost of
adrenaline that helps people focus will start to heighten the senses to the
point where the brain notices every little thing around, causing you to be
easily distracted. Thus, the relationship between stress & concentration becomes
an inverse relationship.
The problem, of course, is that the more stress you are undergoing, the more you
need to concentrate in order to relieve the causes of the stress. This means
that your brain is fighting against itself when you need to get work done. This
is what we like to refer to as a bad thing and it can seriously injure your
ability to get work done. Needless to say, the biggest cause of stress around is
the fact that work needs to get done, so stress becomes a self-defeating cycle.
What can you do to escape this damaging relationship between stress &
concentration? Well, there are a few things you can do. The best is, of course,
to walk away.
Thatís right, just stop what youíre doing. Give yourself a break. Put work on
hiatus and do something else. Take a walk, get some exercise, make a sandwich,
watch an hour of television. Just as long as you are doing something other than
work. This will distract your mind from whatever was causing it stress, which is
exactly what you need to do. After all, your mind tends to get used to being
stressed after a while, making it less able to let go of its concerns. This
means that you need to make a conscious effort to clear your mind, and the best
way to do that is to clear all the problems out of your head before you drown in
If you are not able to walk away for some reason -- letís say that you are at
work and the boss doesnít like to see people leave their desks -- you can still
relieve stress and help your concentration by performing a quick relaxation
exercise. Simply close your eyes (this helps, but it can be done with your eyes
open) and take deep breaths. Concentrate on each breath as it fills your lungs,
then concentrate on the breath leaving as you exhale. Focus your attention on
your breathing until you are paying attention to nothing else. Then, once you
are done, you should feel much more relaxed and able to concentrate. If you do
not feel better, repeat the exercise until your mind is clear and uncluttered.
The big problem with stress & concentration is the simple fact that stress helps
concentration in the short run, but hurts it in the long-run. Unfortunately,
most people do not notice this transition from helping to hindering and they
simply stay under stress and unable to focus. So when you notice that your mind
is racing too fast to allow your brain to focus on anything, walk away or take a
few deep breaths in order to calm your mind. Then, you will be able to escape
the negative relationship between stress & concentration.
Long Term Implications of Stress
Physical Disorders Caused By
Emotional Disorders Caused By
Behavioral Disorders Caused By
Effects of Stress
You may not realize it but
your emotional health directly affects your physical health.
So in addition to making sure you are eating healthy and
using a fitness program, you have to maintain a healthy
Produces Stress? A Paradox
It could be stated with a high if not absolute degree of accuracy, that uncertainty produces over-stress - quite a lot of over-stress. If that's the case then the opposite (certainty) would be a great antidote for this modern "disease". So how is one supposed to be rid of uncertainty?
Copyright 2005 Trevor Dumbleton
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