Recovery centre group Centres For Health & Healing offer the following tips on how to lead a more mindful life.

The human attention span has reached an average of eight seconds, dropping by around 25 per cent in just a few years due to digital distractions.

However, there are ways that you can retrain your brain to be more present and productive, embracing mindful living for a more attentive you.

The Resident: Meditation can improve clarity and your attention spanMeditation can improve clarity and your attention span (Image: Unsplash/ Max van den Oetelaar)

The Attention Span Problem

We’re living in the age of information which overloads our brains with stimuli and causes us to become addicted to a 'what’s next' mindset.

We’re constantly looking for the next hit of dopamine, which all too often comes from scrolling through social media.

In doing this, we’re not giving ourselves the time to reflect and process experiences, delving into how they make us think and feel.

Undigested emotions come a whole host of issues, including increased levels of stress and anxiety.

When we feel bad, we search for a distraction, leading to a vicious cycle of attention-draining activities.

Could Mindfulness Re-Focus Our Brains?

Mindfulness is all about being present. Rather than thinking of the past or future, or anything else on your mind, you’re fully immersed in the moment that you’re living in. Your mind isn’t wandering and your thoughts aren’t spiralling: you’re here, now. 

There’s a lot of evidence that suggests mindfulness could help increase attention spans, and it’s an idea that makes sense.

When you’re being mindful, you’re choosing to focus your attention on something specific. By exerting this control, you can regain power over your brain, hushing your thoughts and reducing the pull of distraction.

The Resident: There are other mindful practices to try tooThere are other mindful practices to try too (Image: Unsplash/Blubel)

Meditation To Boost Your Attention

A mindful life starts with the art of meditation.

This is the practice that aims to put you back in control of your attention span, switching off the autopilot that sends you down a YouTube rabbit hole or endlessly scrolling on Instagram.

By meditating, you’re choosing instead to be a present, active observer in your life and tuning out the part of your brain that’s on a constant hunt for dopamine.

You’re training your mind to be happy as it is, embracing the quiet of the here and now.

How to Meditate to Increase Attention Span

The team at Centres for Health and Healing believe that everyone’s story is unique and everyone’s needs are different.

There’s plenty of research that shows meditation can help, but what works for someone else may not work for you, or it may take longer to take effect.

The following short meditation practice is one of many you can try. If it works, repeat it as often as you can, and if it doesn't, try different one. 

Start by taking a few deep breaths, in through the nose and out through the mouth. As you do this, become aware of your body: how you’re sitting or standing, what you can feel, and if there’s any tension you can release.

Then, tune into your surroundings. Think of nothing but what you can hear and how your brain reacts to your environment.

Noises may create different images in your mind, for example, or conjure up certain colours. Remain in this state for as long as it feels comfortable.

Begin to come out of your meditation by noticing your feelings and then your thoughts.

Take in your physical and emotional state and, if you had closed them, open your eyes.

This is such a simple meditation that puts you in control of your mind. 

Embracing Mindful Living For Better Attention

There are plenty of other mindful practices you can embrace as well, including journalling about your day, spending less time on your phone and more time being present, taking mindful walks and practicing yoga. 

A core concept of mindfulness is focusing on one thing at a time. With mobile phones constantly available, even the simplest of tasks, like brushing your teeth or waiting for the kettle to boil, are no longer moments of peaceful thought but are crowded with digital stimuli.

Try to stop multi-tasking and be mindful when carrying out mundane activities. You may find yourself picking up your phone without thinking about it, but every time you notice you’ve done it, pop it back down and bring yourself back to the present moment.

It’s simple changes like this that can make all the difference.

To learn more about Centres For Health and Healing visit the organisation's website.