I just got my first speeding ticket in two years. For me, that’s a victory. I have ADD. Medication doesn’t work for me. After a lifetime of struggling to pay attention, I developed a system that enabled me to function as a wife, mom, healer, teacher, and writer without so much as a missed appointment. But I slipped.

I gave up my runs, blaming the short days and dreary weather. I hadn’t done Reiki in weeks, thinking that because I wasn’t working as a hands-on healer anymore, I didn’t need to clear my energy as often. I had gotten off track, and it took a $200 ticket for me to realize it.

Here are the five strategies that keep me focused (when I stick to them):

Aerobic Exercise

Scientists suspect that dysfunction of the body’s ability to regulate dopamine is responsible for the symptoms of Attention Deficit Disorder. Exercise boosts this chemical, as well as norepinephrine, serotonin, and endorphins[1]. So exercise not only helps focus, but also improves mood. I ran track and cross country in high school and college. When I was training, my grades soared. When I ended up sidelined with a stress fracture, I went from an “Academic All-American” to academic probation. In my personal experience, the correlation couldn’t be more clear.

Targeting the Root

To specifically address the issue of focus, modalities that target the root chakra work best: yoga with root chakra poses, meditations that focus on the root, and Reiki are the perfect complement to exercise. The root chakra is the base of the seven main chakras, the energy centers of our bodies. The state of being unfocused is known as being “ungrounded.” One of the functions of the root is to help us to feel present and “with it,” so being ungrounded is considered to be a root chakra issue. Spending time in nature is incredibly grounding. Studies now show that being in nature “improves short-term memory, restores mental energy, relieves stress, reduces inflammation…improves concentration and focus, helps one think more sharply and creatively…improves mental health…and can possibly stimulate anti-cancer proteins.”[2] So go hug a tree. Seriously. It works.

Put Down the Phone

In a study conducted at Florida State University, researchers found that “a single notification on your phone weakens your ability to focus on a task.”[3] When I was seeing clients, I noticed a correlation between the amount of self-reported time spent on their smartphone and issues with focus and anxiety, especially when when they wore their phone on their body. The State of California just issued guidelines regarding the use of cell phones, which have been shown in studies to increase the risk of brain cancer and tumors, lower sperm count and quality, and negatively affect “learning, memory, and sleep.”[4] Since reading this, I have made a conscious decision to store my phone in bag or a drawer, only checking it at certain times during the day. Now I am naturally more focused and have far more energy throughout the day.

Mindful Eating

When eating for focus, it is especially important to have protein with breakfast and lunch[5] Fruits and vegetables help too. Our family does smoothies every morning during the week. We change up the ingredients, but the basic formula is the same: greens and fruits, plus seed and nut butters for protein. Does it take a few extra minutes? Yes, but knowing the entire family will be able to focus and has had a nutritious start to the day? Totally worth it.

Drink More Water

According to a study conducted at Kings College in London, “Negative effects of dehydration include having “brain fog” or feeling forgetful and spacey along with difficulty thinking and concentrating.”[6] Ideally, we should aim to drink half of our body weight in ounces of water a day.

Now that I’ve re-implemented these strategies, I’m not only more able to pay attention, but I am more present with my loved ones. My son has a sweet way of letting me know when I’m in the moment: he hugs me and says “I’m so proud of you Mommy!” Oh, and ever since the ticket, he points out all of the speed limit signs.   

Jessica Gammell-Bennett is a writer, spiritual teacher, and holistic coach. Through her W.H.O.L.E. Family ™ approach. she helps parents and children live healthier, happier, more peaceful lives. Her favorite place to be is in her back yard, surrounded by trees with her family, which includes their standard poodle, JJ.

Visit www.jessicagammellbennett.com/stay-connected to download her free top ten wellness tips and join her email list. You’ll receive free monthly wellness tips, techniques, and family-friendly recipes. You can also find her on Instagram and Facebook.

[1] Stewart, Kristen. “How Exercise Works Like A Drug for ADHD.” EverydayHealth.com. December 16, 2013. Accessed January 16, 2018. https://www.everydayhealth.com/add-adhd/can-you-exercise-away-adhd-symptoms.aspx.

[2] Friedman, Lauren F. “11 scientifically proven reasons you should be spending less time in the office.” Business Insider. June 30, 2015. Accessed February 17, 2018. http://www.businessinsider.com/why-being-outside-in-nature-is-healthy-2015-6

[3] Budd, Ken. “Attention Spans, Focus Affected By Smartphone Use.” AARP. December 01, 2017. Accessed February 17, 2018. https://www.aarp.org/health/brain-health/info-2017/mental-focus-smartphone-use.html.

[4] Walton, Alice G. “California Warns About Cellphone Exposure And Health Risks.” Forbes. December 18, 2017. Accessed February 17, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2017/12/16/california-warns-about-cell-phone-exposure-and-health-risks/#76d7697634a3.

[5] Editors, ADDitude. “6 Essential, Natural Supplements for ADHD.” ADDitude. January 12, 2018. Accessed February 15, 2018. https://www.additudemag.com/slideshows/adhd-supplements-fish-oil-zinc-iron/

[6] NatureWorldNews. “Children with ADHD may Benefit from Increased Water Consumption.” Nature World News. May 04, 2016. Accessed February 17, 2018. http://www.natureworldnews.com/articles/21585/20160504/children-with-adhd-may-benefit-from-increased-water-consumption.htm.