The average human sees hundreds of ads every day. On top of that, you are bombarded with push notifications, invites, pokes, messages, phone calls, television shows, cute puppy videos and all the like. Our ability to focus on the task at hand is influenced by many things; such as diet, environment, and number of distractions present. Rather than distract yourself further by downloading the newest productivity app; lean on your cupboard full of pure essential oils.
The Cost of Distraction
Humans actually have a finite amount of attention that we use each day. The problem arises when we use this attention on minor details, neglecting to complete important projects. Your brain requires a good amount of glucose and fat to function. Each time you focus on something, you use a good part of your brain’s metabolic resources. A recent study showed that from the first active decision you make in the day which requires self-control, your will to make another active decision after it can be hindered. This is why many people recommend focusing on the biggest task of your day first, as doing small tasks can drain your brainpower before you get a chance to do any real work.
Even if you are only distracted 4 times in a day, you are losing an hour of productivity. This is based on the results of one study, suggesting that it takes an average of 23 minutes to return to the task at hand following a distraction. That is a very kind estimate as well. Between “important” emails, notifications, and the ever-present urge to check your social media (for the sixth time), it is easy to be distracted dozens of times a day. So how to stay focused?
One Step to Focus
If you could only take one step towards creating a distraction free environment, it is this: Put away your phone. Put it as far away as possible. In the over-connected modern world, the urge to check our phones and keep up with the steady streams of emails and social media notifications may be the single greatest distraction at hand. By keeping it far away from you, you are less likely to feel the instant urge to check it, and will stay focused.
But to really keep yourself focused, there are some simple solutions which you may already have in your cupboard- essential oils.
Essential Oils for Focus and Concentration
In addition to the importance of providing your brain with a healthy diet rich in complex carbs, healthy fats and digestible proteins, you can make great leaps in your productivity through the use of pure essential oils.
1. Amyris Essential Oil
On average, the brain makes up two percent of the body’s mass, yet uses 25% of the body’s inhaled oxygen. As oxygen helps to nourish the cells and eliminate waste matter, an oxygen rich brain is a healthy brain. Sesquiterpenes found in amyris essential oil, help to increase the oxygen in the blood stream and keep your brain functioning at its best. A great way to start using amyris essential oil is to simply place a few drops in a diffuser.
2. Chamomile Essential Oil
The active ingredients in chamomile essential oil may also help keep your brain functioning properly. A recent case study found that chamomile reduced ADHD symptoms. While the sample was small, the research indicates that the ability of chamomile to keep serotonin circulating in the brain may reduce some symptoms of ADHD, helping to stay focused on one task.
If your inability to concentrate is also due (or causes) high anxiety or stress levels, chamomile may reduce anxiety as well. This research indicated that for people suffering from minor generalized anxiety disorder, chamomile may produce a calming effect on the mind.
3. Patchouli Essential Oil
Patchouli essential oil is highly active in the body. In addition to supporting heart health and reducing scar tissue, Patchouli also plays important roles in the brain. It is another important source of sesquiterpenes, helping to increase the amount of available oxygen in the brain. Additionally, patchouli essential oil increases dopamine in the brain. Dopamine acts on the rewards receptors in the brain; keeping the compound active is a great way to keep you feeling good about the task at hand, and less likely to be distracted. And this is just one of the powerful benefits of patchouli essential oil.
4. Frankincense Essential Oil
Your short term memory may also be to blame for some of your lack of focus. If you have ever read an important paragraph repeatedly because your brain retained little of what you had just read, reach for frankincense essential oil. Studies have shown that the components in frankincense can prevent memory impairment . Frankincense is composed of monoterpenes and sesquiterpenes, compounds which reduce inflammation and increase oxygen in the blood. Frankincense also has a calming effect on the body; deepening the breath to allow for more oxygen uptake. And again, more oxygen in the brain keeps the mind sharp.
5. Lavender Essential Oil
As relaxing as it is, lavender essential oil may actually keep your mind alert all day long. A recent Japanese study tackled the issue of “afternoon lag”. Three groups of workers were assessed in one hour blocks, with 30 minute break periods in between each block. In the control group, workers experienced a drop in concentration in the afternoon. The group which was exposed to lavender essential oil showed significantly higher concentration levels at this time. In haling lavender essential oil on your work breaks can help you get through a long day.
6. Vetiver Essential Oil
The warm, musky notes of vetiver essential oil may actually help increase your brain function and keep you on task. In a recent study focusing on children with ADHD, vetiver was found to be a significantly effective treatment. The research noted that vetiver improves the brain activity and reduces the symptoms of ADHD. This shows promise in the realm of natural ADHD cures, and can also help you focus on your work.
7. Peppermint Essential Oil
The crisp, fresh scent of peppermint essential oil may actually keep you focused. Research indicates that users who are exposed to diffused peppermint essential oil show signs of mental clarity not present in control groups. Peppermint essential oil was found to enhance memory and increase alertness in test subjects. Peppermint can be used in a diffuser, but it’s also commonly used topically when mixed with a carrier oil.
8. Rosemary Essential Oil
Who knew that a common household herb could boost your brain power? That’s what research is suggesting. One study showed that rosemary essential oil boosts mental alertness in healthy adults. The researchers also found that participants exposed to rosemary essential oil were more content and had better memory function than that of the control groups.
9. Cedarwood Essential Oil
Another oil extremely high in sesquiterpenes, cedarwood essential oil helps increase oxygen in your brain. In fact, cedarwood essential oil can contain as much as 98% sesquiterpenes by volume. Cedarwood essential oil also shows mild benefits for treating ADHD symptoms, though the results could use more research.
10. Ylang Ylang Essential Oil
The sweet, floral scent of ylang ylang is often put on the list of aphrodisiac essential oils. Though it may stimulate the body of many people, it can actually help quiet the mind. If your lack of focus is due to feeling overloaded, ylang ylang may be right for you. Recent research found that ylang ylang has mild sedative effects, including reducing blood pressure and heart rate. Users in another study also reported feeling a reduction in stress when using ylang ylang. Adding a drop of diluted ylang ylang essential oil to your wrists can benefit you through both transdermal absorption and inhalation.
A Final Word
Pure essential oils are strong. For safety’s sake, they should always be diluted before applying to the skin, as allergic reactions can occur. Pay attention to any reactions your body may have to oils when applied on the skin, and should start by applying them to a small area before moving onto a large area of the body. Children and pregnant women should use any essential oil under the guidance of a healthcare practitioner.
The most important thing to consider when purchasing your essential oils is the quality of the product. Always look for pure, undiluted, essential oils with no fillers. Pure oils are not only the most beneficial – they are the safest.
Do you have an essential oil blend that keeps you focused? We would love to hear about it!