Mental Fog? An Expert Explains How To Sharpen Your Focus
Struggling to focus? Well, it’s not just you. A lot of people are finding it increasingly difficult to focus RN. As we muddle through the second year of a pandemic, experts are referring to it as “pandemic brain fog.” It’s caused by a wide range of factors, including isolation, anxiety, lack of sleep, decreased levels of exercise, not to mention uncertainty about the future.
Most importantly, if you do feel like this, be kind to yourself – this panorama is affecting all of us in different ways. However, some lifestyle habits can help to reduce brain fog and improve mental clarity. We spoke to the co-Founder of wellness and lifestyle brand, Ancient + Brave, Kate Prince, for some pro tips. She filled us in on brain fog and her top tips to avoid it.
Understanding Brain Fog
If you’re still “foggy” on the term, Kate clarifies, “Brain fog is a common term given to describe a number of symptoms relating to our concentration, such as lack of clarity and focus, forgetfulness and feeling disorganized in our thoughts, and it can cause great anxiety in many.”
According to Kate, we should stop underestimating the link between wellness and brainpower. She explains, “There’s no doubt that a healthy cognitive function is essential for strong wellbeing. It’s the power and force that keeps you focused on everything that you do.” She insists that too often, when we’re setting our health goals, we focus on our physical health rather than brainpower, when in fact, our mental health will help sustain and support a healthy lifestyle.
Here are 5 ways to improve your brain focus, which can be adopted as part of your healthy lifestyle plan:
1. Step Up Your Exercise
It’s no secret that exercise is not only good for your body but your mental health too. However, it doesn’t only release “feel-good” endorphins; it’ll increase your brainpower. Kate explains that “When the heart rate increases, oxygen to the brain increases too, along with the blood and nutrients that keep your brain working at its optimum.”
Need more proof? Get ready for it to get pretty dang science-y. “Professor David R Jacobs at the University of Minnesota reports that exercise increases the creation of mitochondria, the cellular structures that generate and maintain our energy, both in our muscles and in our brain, which may explain the mental edge we often experience after a workout,” says Kate.
This is why it’s beneficial to exercise in the morning, as it’s likely to reduce brain fog throughout the day. Kate says, “Whether it’s a cycle class, a power walk, or team sport, these can all help improve concentration and focus.”
We all know that a bad night’s sleep can quickly demote our A-game to a D-game. Kate confirms, “Sleeping problems can affect brain function, and those who regularly experience poor sleep may find themselves susceptible to brain fog. There are things you can do to help promote a better sleep pattern, though.”
If you’re struggling to sleep, Kate recommends addressing your diet. She insists you should look for food high in tryptophan. She explains, “This is a chemical that can induce sleep and is found in tinned tuna, chicken, turkey, and milk.”
In addition, she says, “A great partner to these foods is MCT oil, and it can be easily added to meals and drinks. It can prevent spikes in insulin production associated with consuming high GI carbohydrate foods, which interrupt sleep. This restlessness produced by a build-up of glucose in your bloodstream can influence your sleep significantly, so the benefits of Ancient + Brave’s True MCT Oil, $41, can help regulate this.”
Posts You'll Love:
3. Introduce Healthy Fats To Your Diet
The term healthy fat may seem counterintuitive; however, they do exist. Think avocado… Ok, now we’re hungry! Kate reveals that healthy fats not only taste good but can amp up your brainpower. She explains, “When you consider that around 60% of your brain is made up of fat, it would be no surprise to hear that consuming healthy fats can help with learning, memory, and brain cell regeneration.”
Her go-to? Pure MCT oil, which can boost metabolic health and offers a nourishing and sustainable source of fuel for the brain, which in turn may play a role in helping reduce Alzheimer’s Disease.” For more benefits of MCT oil, check out our MCT guide and fave recipes.
Meditation is not only a great tool to calm your mind, but it can also sharpen your focus. Kate says, “It can help you achieve a clear mental state and train your attention. Studies show how even a two-week course in mindfulness can show improvement in cognitive performance, so it’s certainly a great tool for keeping your mind sharp.”
5. Intermittent Fasting
Intermittent fasting (when you limit your food intake to an 8-hour window and fast for 16) has become increasingly popular over the past few years. “Taking a break from food and giving your body a chance to reset itself can also help you to clear your mind,” says Kate. Once again, it has the science to back it up. Dr. Mark Mattson, a professor at John Hopkins University, reports that fasting has shown to increase the rate of neurogenesis in the brain. Neurogenesis is the growth and development of nervous tissue, which has been correlated with enhanced memory, focus, and mood.
He continues to explain that the neurological response to Intermittent Fasting is the same as regular exercise. “With both activities, the brain-derived neurotrophic factor protein (BDNF) seems to increase. These proteins are also known as a ‘natural antidepressant.’ ”
For more advice, check out these life-changing wellness tips.
Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. We never take payment to review products; however, some brands allow affiliate links, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.