How to Focus Without Caffeine
Gosh, caffeine is a tough one to get off of isn’t it? If you’re reading this article, you’re probably wondering if it can even be done. Caffeine is a big promise with a huge reward...but also a huge price to pay over time. Headaches, dependency, etc.
Every single one of us wants energy, we want to feel upbeat, vibrant, and focused. You may feel like you need caffeine for the “daily grind”, the next college class, or to have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
We understand how you feel. Caffeine is super convenient, and it makes life easier in some ways. Heck, let’s be real, you’re not the only one using it! One study estimates that as much as 90% of Americans consume caffeine on a daily basis. And over half of those are taking in 300 mg a day. Hot dang! That is a lot! (1)
So why not just keep using caffeine like everybody else? Well, because caffeine is a withdrawal from your health savings account - not like an HSA, but a metaphorical health savings account if you catch our meaning.
If you are wanting to take a break from caffeine for a while, or totally want to give it up, we have some great ideas for you to experience focus the caffeine-free way.
Keep reading to find out how.
Can Focus & Concentration Be Improved?
First off, yes! Focus and concentration can be improved. Today, This is done through lifestyle choices, nutrition, and positive habits.
You can learn to focus better and increase your capacity, and you can do it without caffeine.
What Makes it Hard to Focus?
Everyone knows that feeling. Sitting down in your chair at work, dreading the day before it’s even begun. Grabbing your college homework out of your bag and plopping your brick of a textbook down on the table, only to find out your motivation is somewhere in timbuck-two.
Everyone goes through this at some time or another, no matter who you are! We’re all in the same boat here, so it’s probably about time we shake hands with our fellow boat-mates as we ride this rocky ocean together, all doing the best we can to row in the same direction without making too much of a mess of ourselves.
Sometimes the waves get choppy and it’s hard to stay the course. Sometimes we even fall out of the boat. But that’s okay. Let’s support each other and keep growing. That’s what Living In Color is all about.
Seriously, who can’t relate to this? Let’s list a few things that make it hard to focus, shall we?
- Hormones: We’ve all got ‘em! And not just the sexual ones. Hormones play a role in everything, and sometimes they’re all sorts of messed up! When you’re having a rough time, practice some acceptance for yourself and talk yourself through it. You can think, “Maybe this is just hormones. That’s alright. I accept myself.” Then take things one step at a time - write a list, take it slow, you’ll get into it eventually.
- Life’s daily stress: Gosh, if only life could be easy, right? Well, it isn’t. When you can, recognize the stress you are facing and try to talk yourself through it. Find solutions, write down simple plans, or talk it out with someone. Remember, as long as you are stressed, productivity is far lower. It is worth taking the time to talk it out or take care of it, rather than ‘putting your nose to the grind stone’, ‘sucking it up’, and then plunging face first into the mud of defeat. Take it easy on yourself, love yourself, and take time to manage your stress effectively.
- Tiredness: Everyone gets enough sleep at night of course, right?...If only! While many of us have children who keep us up, others may tend to wear our lack of sleep as a badge of honor. We’ve been trained to think it’s super cool and productive to lack sleep and push through because it proves we’re super tough, right? Wrong. Get more sleep, you’ll make up for the lost hours by being more focused and productive in the hours you do have. Some of us may have troubles actually going to sleep though. Getting off of caffeine can help with this!
- Poor Nutrition: If you don’t know this one yet, then you better get to know it! Garbage nutrition equals garbage focus. Vitamins, minerals, and a good balance of macronutrients (proteins, fats, and carbs) in your diet literally determine your ability to focus. Get your fruits and veggies every single day to make sure you keep your focus at top notch. Ruvi makes this easy - buy it. Diet is truly one of the fastest ways to boost your focus and concentration.
What Improves Focus?
A lot of stuff improves focus! We already mentioned a few above, but here’s everything we’ll talk about in this article:
- Meditation & mindfulness
- Breathing exercises
- Use a break schedule
- Avoid sugar and artificial sweeteners
- Avoid bad fats
- Eat whole, healthy foods
- Drink Ruvi Focus (because it’s flippin’ awesome)
- Silence your cell phone
- Get moving
- Listen to Mozart
If you’d like to help your kids focus, we have an article on that here.
We all know this one of course. Getting enough sleep directly impacts your focus. Of course, there are times in life when you need to sacrifice sleep for things that are more meaningful - like staying up to comfort a loved one during a hard time, pursuing a project late into the night, or finally getting that stack of dishes washed - we’ve all been there. To Live In Color, sometimes you gotta sacrifice sleep.
Besides staying up late being awesome, any time you’re tempted to stay up late for some silly reason (like we are all the time), just think of your circadian rhythm. Sounds weird, we know. Stick with us.
Your circadian rhythm is your internal clock. When you are on a consistent sleeping schedule, you do the very best and your circadian rhythm is regular and stable. When your sleeping schedule is all over the place, it messes with your physical and mental health. By staying consistent in the time you wake up and go to sleep, your body and mind can get into a groove.
You’ll find you actually fall asleep and wake up much easier when you’re on a consistent schedule. Not only that, but your gut microbes (the ones that play a central role in your gut and brain health) also function on a circadian rhythm. If you don’t sleep properly, they can’t either. And did you know that your organs (including your brain) repair themselves while you sleep? If you don’t get enough, your brain will feel like a slug boiling on hot asphalt in the middle of Bakersfield, California in the month of July!
Little dramatic perhaps. But hey, so is feeling like garbage.
Eat Some Veggies
Having trouble getting your work-vibe on? Up your game by gettin’ your veggies-vibe on! You need to fill that body and brain with vitamins, minerals, fiber, and a whole lot of other natur-ey stuff that only veggies can give you.
When you get your daily veggies, your brain will transform from a zoo that’s filled with wild, aimless animals, into a luscious farmland filled with beautiful veggie-fairies that grant you magical focusing powers. These magical fairies are nicknamed ‘broccoli’, ‘squash’, ‘spinach’, and ‘kale’. Join forces with them for some serious focus action!
So cook up some veggies, eat them raw, whatever! Or, make a veggie smoothie. (With fruit too. C’mon, don’t be gross.) Or, to make things simpler, just buy some Ruvi and get 4 servings of fruits and veggies in an instant. It’s no doubt the best whole fruit and veggie smoothie on the planet.
A good technique for improving your mental focus, and life in general, is the practice of acceptance. If you’re having trouble focusing, simply accept that you are having trouble! Sounds easy, right? You may be surprised how often you totally don’t do this though!
One of the things that makes focusing so much harder is when we beat ourselves up for not focusing better. We’re metaphorically crawling across the floor, just doing our best to put one appendage in front of the other, and then we’re kicking ourselves in the gut saying “why won’t you just get up and run?!” And then we wonder why in the world we’re having such a hard time.
Instead of beating yourself up, accept that you are struggling, and that you’re imperfect, and that it’s okay because everyone is. This will help you stay more positive and find solutions to your problem. Stay calm, be self-compassionate. You can do this!
Meditation & Mindfulness
If you have a daily meditation practice, try this: When you meditate, envision yourself at work or school. Visualize yourself focusing really well and being “in the zone”. Visualization is a very powerful method to improve any part of your life. Simply take a few minutes to picture yourself focusing and concentrating at work or school just as your highest hopes would have it. Then, you might be surprised when you find yourself actually doing it later on.
Mindfulness meditation is also a great way to increase your ability to focus.
Or, if you are In the moment, you can use mindfulness to improve your focus. Simply notice what is around you. Appreciate whatever is going on in the moment - touch, taste, smells, sounds - and focus on them. This can help you get grounded and re-focused in the present, rather than stressing about the past or future.
While it may not be as stimulating as caffeine, it can certainly help you to calm down and get your brain back on point. And there’s no come-down, which is nice.
There are multiple highly effective breathing techniques that are scientifically proven to improve concentration. Generally, these are diaphragmatic breathing and relaxation breathing.
Due to the stress we face throughout our lives and just general bad habits, many of us learn to breathe using our chest instead of our belly. This is wrong. Watch what a child does - do they breathe from their chest, or from their belly? Belly of course.
Using your belly to breathe is sometimes referred to as diaphragmatic breathing. Breathing this way will help you to relax more and improve your focus.
There are many ways to use relaxation breathing to improve your mental state. The main point is to breathe out longer and slower than you breathe in. Also, to breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth. This gets you back into your parasympathetic nervous system and helps focus your mind.
One great technique is to breathe in through your nose for 4 seconds and out through your mouth for 8 seconds. This can help to decrease anxiety and improve concentration.
Organize Your Workspace & Tasks
Your external surroundings are sometimes a good representation of the internal state of your mind. If you are surrounded by crap...well then your brain might feel like crap too.
Organize your space to organize your thoughts. Clean up, dust, organize papers, create a system. This will help you feel more organized internally as well.
Oftentimes we can feel bored, unmotivated, or scatter-brained simply because we are disorganized. When this happens, write a list and become clear on what you’re doing and the steps to get there. When you have a clearer concept of what you are going to do and how, you might find yourself more motivated to work.
Take Scheduled Breaks
Sometimes you have trouble focusing simply because you need a break. Don’t let the work habits of those around you be your gauge for when you need a break. Each of us have different work/stress thresholds. While we can increase that threshold over time by improving our physical and mental health, we should not expect ourselves to change all at once.
If it works well for you, schedule your breaks for specific times during the day. What this looks like for you may be different than it is for someone else. Create your own bomb break schedule. Soon, you’ll be tearing up your work!
...Not literally tearing up your work, but you know, “tearing it up.” Hopefully, with more breaks you’ll be less frustrated with your work and find less of a desire to actually ‘tear it up’, right?
Avoid Sugar and Artificial Sweeteners
Garbage in, garbage out. If you want to focus better, you gotta get your health on! If you're going to snack, we recommend things like the following to keep your energy and focus rolling!:
- Apples and almond butter
- Coconut water (just the pure stuff)
- Ruvi and other fruits and veggies
- Mixed nuts (avoid those with additives)
Sugar and artificial sweeteners are bad for your gut health and cause inflammation in the body and brain. When you consume foods that contain these ingredients, your focus and concentration will likely go down the tubes. Work on sticking to whole, natural nutrition if you want your focus to improve. If you need a sweetener, try going with raw honey, whole maple syrup, stevia, or monk fruit.
Avoid Bad Fats
Guess what 60% of your brain is made up of? Fat. That’s right, we are all fat-heads. Learn it, know it, love it, don’t be ashamed of it. We’ve all got fat brains, it’s cool.
So, with so much of our brains being fat, when it comes to our ability to focus and our overall mental health, the types of fat we eat are central to how well we focus.
Avoid foods that contain vegetable oils, hydrogenated oils, trans fats, or a ton of saturated fat. Instead opt for healthy or good fats that contain a lot of Omega-3’s or MCTs. Foods such as:
- Healthy oils: avocado oil, extra virgin olive oil, virgin/extra virgin coconut oil
- Nuts - almonds, walnuts, pecans, macadamia nuts, pistachios, & brazil nuts are some of the best
- Seeds - flax, chia, and sunflower seeds
- Fatty fish - such as wild salmon, sardines, and mackerel
- Seaweed - fun fact, this is where the fish get their Omega-3’s from. Pretty cool, huh?
- Blue-green algaes like Chlorella or Spirulina: another place fish get their Omega-3’s from
- Coconut (MCT’s) - coconut is a superfood filled with Medium Chain Triglycerides, which are awesome for the brain
Eat Some Berries
When it comes to fruits and veggies, berries are one of the finest things out there for focusing. This is because they contain little purple and blue berry soldiers that build and repair your brain - or at least that’s what we like to envision.
Seriously though, berries have been used in multiple studies on mental health and focus. That’s because they’re seriously powerful for your brain! Blackberries, blueberries, acai berries, maqui berries, etc.
A good place to get these little berry-buddies is Ruvi Focus. When you buy Ruvi Focus, you are getting 5 different berries in one blend - two of which are acai and maqui. These two berries are very popular in the research community as they are superfoods that seriously change people’s lives. Ruvi Focus is a great caffeine free way to increase your focus.
Silence Your Cell Phone
Building a habit of focusing on one thing at a time, not going from one thing to the next and back again. This is a very necessary skill to have if you want to improve your focus. Silencing your cell phone and turning off all your push notifications can help you build this habit, keeping you from breaking focus all of the time.
Granted, this can be easier said than done, and it can be very difficult to build the habit of focusing on one thing for a prolonged period. Especially these days with how fast-paced everything is. Just know that the more you practice staying focused on one thing at a time, the better and better you will become at it. So give yourself time to practice!
Take some time to recognize the things around you that you can appreciate and love. Gratitude can really increase your ability to feel positive, less stressed, and more present. When in doubt, spend a few minutes breaking away from what you are doing and recognize the things that are happening in your life right now that you can be thankful for - no matter how small.
Getting your blood flowing can help bring your focus up. This not only gets blood flowing to your muscles, but to your brain too. This will increase your ability to think and stay sharp. This is especially true if you can get out in the sunshine, as the sun actually instigates the release of serotonin in the body. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter (happy brain chemical) that gives you feelings of peace and well-being.
Drink Ruvi Focus
Need more serious focus? Look no further than whole fruits and veggies. Ruvi is like having a backyard garden in the palm of your hand. Just pour, shake, drink. You’ve got 4 servings of totally whole fruits and veggies flowing through your veins in a matter of seconds. Try Ruvi Focus for an awesome caffeine free way to improve your concentration. Get your brain power on the natural way!
- Kuakini Health System. Caffeine: America’s Most Popular Drug.