Staying Focused Without Caffeine
Many of us have times when it is really difficult to focus, whether it is at work, whilst studying or even when having fun.
In an effort to wake up, some instinctively reach for caffeine, because it works. But short-term fixes can end up having long-term effects on our health and wellbeing.
The recent epidemics in both tiredness and insomnia point to the need to find healthy alternatives that can help us focus without having detrimental effects on our sleep.
In this article we’ll look at how to focus without using stimulants.
- Dependency on Stimulants to Focus
- Lack of Self Control
- Exercises for Your Will
- Be Strong, Stay Focused
Dependency on Stimulants to Focus
The thing is, drinking coffee or an energy drink is so easy and they work that we rarely think about it.
And therein lies the problem. For many, tiredness equals “I haven’t had enough coffee”, or “I need to have an energy drink”.
Each time we do this we are reinforcing an unnatural habit that if not checked will keep us in a perpetual loop of tiredness followed by increasing amounts of caffeine.
Lack of Self Control
By inadvertently linking tiredness and caffeine in our daily habits, we make it harder to break the habit whilst at the same time potentially exposing ourselves to harmful side effects.
For example, the effects of caffeine that most of us want, (alertness and focus), are in fact the results of caffeine withdrawal. Your body craves the caffeine that is no longer in your system, and like any addictive stimulant, makes you feel lousy.
But get that caffeine fix in and your body soon starts to feel better and your mind clearer. Unfortunately it’s not that caffeine made you more alert, but due to you feeling so bad before you had your fix, your body just returns to normal levels of alertness and focus.
To make matters worse, as your body acclimates to your current level of caffeine consumption, you will soon need higher levels of caffeine to get the same feelings of alertness and focus.
Consuming more than 400mg of caffeine daily can eventually increase the likelihood of you being exposed to:
- Mental disorders such as altered consciousness, anxiety and depression.
- Increased heart rate and elevated blood pressure.
- Dehydration and decreased potassium.
Exercises for Your Will
To stay focused without using caffeine is something that is well within your reach. Just by exercising a little willpower each day you can eventually build momentum and your focusing powers.
Here are some tips that will help you:
- Stop consuming caffeine.
It can be very difficult, but you must try. Start abstaining from caffeine when you have time off work or at the weekends so that you are not around people that are drinking coffee or sodas.
- Do short bursts of focused work.
If you have a task to complete, break it down into 5 to 10 minute manageable chunks. Once the time limit is up, take a 5-minute break, and then repeat the process. As your focus becomes stronger over time, gradually increase your focus periods to 25 to 30 minute sessions.
- Don’t work when you are tired.
Tiredness is the enemy of a focused mind. Where possible work when you are well rested. That means getting more quality sleep during the night. But what if you are unable to sleep? What can you do? I would recommend a tiredness alarm for the Apple Watch called V-CAF. V-CAF subtly notifies you when you are most likely to be tired. Once you are alerted you can take the appropriate action to wake yourself up.
- Stay hydrated.
If you’re feeling tired, drink lots of water. Water helps more blood and oxygen get to your brain; which will help you focus better.
You don’t need caffeine to be able to focus effectively. In fact caffeine can work against you. Try these tips to help you focus better without caffeine:
- Don’t consume caffeine
- Do short bursts of focused work (when starting 5 – 10 mins.)
- Don’t work when you are tired. Use a tiredness alarm like V-CAF to alert you when you are most likely to be tired.
- Do drink more water.
Be Strong, Stay Focused
Don’t weaken your resolve to stay focused naturally by drinking a coffee or energy drink. If you feel yourself craving them, try to hold out.
The longer you hold out the stronger you will be the next time the cravings come back.
There are no quick fixes, but by taking things slowly, day by day, you will improve your focus.