Does your lifestyle promote mental clarity, or cloudiness? If you consistently find it difficult to formulate clear thoughts, or if you use stimulants (caffeine, sugar, energy drinks) and depressants (alcohol, sleeping pills) to get you through your days, then it is likely that you suffer from chronic brain fog.
So, what can you do about it?
This post introduces the essentials for optimum cognitive function. Consider them objectively, and evaluate how each one shows up in your life.
Sleep deep. Even one night of poor sleep significantly increases inflammation, the major underlying cause of most chronic diseases. During sleep, the brain cleanses and repairs itself, solidifying memories and information that we've gathered throughout the day. (Imagine a night crew of tiny janitors and handymen moving in to sweep out the garbage, straighten up, and fix what's broken.) If sleep is an issue for you, take a look at your daily routine, pinpoint culprits, and consider creating a nighttime ritual. There are plenty of tools available, from giving yourself a caffeine cut-off time, to bringing in relaxation-promoting foods, essential oils, and meditations.
Exercise regularly. Reset your circadian rhythm, banish brain fog, and even enlarge your hippocampus with exercise. Strive for frequent movement through the day, along with 20-30 minutes of strenuous activity 4-5 days per week. Incorporate strength training, especially for the legs, as this has been attributed to improved cognitive function. Also, a brisk walk in the early morning resets your biological clock, helping you feel energized during the day, and restful at night.
Eat whole foods. Fill your plate with mostly plants, including lots of leafy greens and cruciferous veggies (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, kale, etc.). Include healthy fats, such as avocado, olive oil, nuts and seeds, and wild-caught fatty fish (salmon, herring, and mackerel are good sources). Complex carbs from true whole grains, beans and legumes, and starchy vegetables (think sweet potatoes and butternut squash) are also beneficial. If consuming caffeine and alcohol, do so in moderation. Lastly, avoid excess sugar and unhealthy fat, as these foods increase brain fog and lower consciousness.
Connect with people. Each individual neuron is capable of making up to 30,000 connections, and these connections happen with human interaction. Put down your phone, close your computer, and step outside. Even the simple act of smiling at a stranger has been shown to fire up the brain. Make conversation on the subway, or on line at the café. Look people in the eye, and instead of thinking about what you are going to say during a conversation or meeting, actively listen– you may be surprised by what comes to you!
Live with purpose. Nothing has a greater impact on mental activity than developing a purpose. Consider the following questions: What do you care deeply about? Why do you care about this? How can you contribute toward it? If you're not sure where to start, explore. Volunteer, get involved in your community, take up an instrument, or learn a new language. Activities such as these are more dynamic, and therefore, more beneficial for brain health than mind puzzles.
Be present. At the center of cognitive development is focus. Be present in what you are doing when you are doing it. If this is challenging for you, try using breath work or meditation to reel you into the moment. Also, avoid multi-tasking, as this may create more problems than solutions! Doing various things at once inhibits our ability to go deep, resulting in multiple poorly-completed tasks.
Increase your mental stamina and sharpness with a customized brain-boosting plan! Schedule your free consultation today.