What a time to be alive! We have access to the internet on our PCs, laptops, tablets and phones. We’re always connected to the HIVE brain in some way and as great as it is to send your best friends that ‘Dank meme’ or passive aggressively stalk people on Snapchat, these micro-actions build habits that may be more harmful than beneficial.
“Procrastination” and “Distractions” (the two words that strike fear into any student) are some of the side effects of over stimulation by technology, from on-demand videos, music, food, comedy, social communities even dating can result in the brain going into autopilot to get your ‘fix’.
Have you ever caught yourself just flicking through your phone for no reason? Or you have something really important to work on, and instead of getting on with it you decide to learn how to cook Italian food because you came across a video? Let’s get into the science behind this because it is all well and good getting a quick fix or workaround temporarily, but to fix these issues you need to understand why this is happening to get rid of these habits.
What is Dopamine?
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter, a chemical produced in the brain, responsible for transmitting signals between the nerve cells (neurons). When dopamine neurons become activated, they release dopamine.
One of the best described roles for dopamine neurons is a ‘built-in reward system’, dopamine neurons become activated when something good happens unexpectedly, such as food appearing in front of you (or getting a Tinder notification). This is where the problem starts. Too much reward (chemical) for small consistent actions results in over-stimulation in the brain and builds resistance in the dopamine receptors. Meaning you will need more of the same action to receive the same feelings, unless you up the ante and try to produce more dopamine which is the beginning of the addiction cycle. Most of the commonly abused drugs and substances cause the release of dopamine, and this is thought to contribute to their addictive properties.
Drugs and Medication
At this point, you can grasp how much loss of concentration effects the majority of people without them even knowing it, and unfortunately, drug abuse is a growing trend for young esports athletes and even more concerning, students. Drugs such as Adderall are prescribed to people who have a dopamine imbalance in the brain, meaning that the craving for constant stimulus is so overpowering that the person can’t focus on anything and wastes time procrastinating on important tasks. The drug balances dopamine levels in the brain, calming the cravings and allowing the person to focus and think clearly. It sounds fantastic, but the issue is darker than it may seem.
Adderall builds dependencies and if a person is on a higher than normal dosage (abuse) or has taken the drug for a long period of time, functioning at optimal performance can’t be reached.
Recently, on the eSports scene, drug testing has been on the agenda, after a number professional players have been caught misusing Adderall as a ‘Performance enhancing drug’.
Without any further delay, here are some easy – often overlooked – ways to boost your focus safely.
5 tips to boost your focus while gaming
Meditation is a practice that has been around for thousands of years, and usually, carries a stigma of being used by yoga enthusiasts. Meditation also carries a sceptical undertone with people who have never tried it, but claim that sitting down still and trying to think of nothing has no benefits.
Here are just a few of the benefits:
- Decreased blood pressure.
- Lower cholesterol levels.
- Quality sleep.
- More efficient oxygen use by the body.
- Relief from stress and anxiety (meditation mitigates the effects of the “fight-or-flight” response, decreasing the production of stress hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline).
2. Exercise Regularly
I’m not saying hit the gym five times a week for three hours a day, but even a light walk around the block will produce endorphins that help fight depression and fatigue. Try to get into the habit of shunting blood around your body pre, during or after a game. A way to add some fun to this would be to set yourself a target of ten push-ups and ten sit-ups every time you lose.
3. Establish a to-do list
A popular New Year resolution around the world is to lose weight or make going to the gym a part of their daily routine. While these are important and admirable goals, these large tasks cannot be accomplished without the completion of several smaller steps. So in any instance, when you feel like your attention span is wandering, and your focus is slipping away, gather yourself and write down what you need to do.
For example, if you need to go shopping, you:
- Plan a time to go to the store.
- Make a list.
- Get dressed.
- Get your keys.
- Make your way.
Accomplishing each step on this list, no matter how big or small brings you closer to completing the set of goals. Making this type of thinking a habit will improve your focus in the long term.
4. Try a small amount of caffeine
Grab yourself a little pick me up when you feel your attention span is fading and enjoy a nice little boost, but keep in mind that timing is key with caffeine (around 45 minutes – 1 hour).
5. Take breaks
Take frequent breaks to give your eyes a rest and your brain a chance to process any unnecessary thoughts that could be clouding your focus.
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