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Thursday, July 19, 2018

The Ultimate Guide to Improve Your Mental Clarity and Focus


We all know how useless a scattered mind can be. It makes everything difficult from focusing on a simple task to making some of the important decisions in your life. This is, in part, due to the effects of modern technology, which overstimulates our minds and paralyzes them by bombarding them with information every second. Eventually, your mind becomes muddled by everything going on around you that it makes it hard to get through your day.

We spoke to the team at BestNootropicsNow.com and asked if there’s anything that can be done about the issue. BestNootropicsNow says that the prevailing opinion among neuroscientists is that technology is the major reason why our minds are so cluttered. Basically, due to all the overstimulation we’re getting, our neural pathways are getting rewired to be shallower so we can multitask more effectively. The result is that, over time, we become less capable of focusing deeply on a single thing.

“But the situation isn’t entirely hopeless,” says BestNootropicsNow. “There are effective habits you can adopt that make it easier to declutter your brain and manage some deep focus and mental clarity. It’s possible to repair our brains if we do the right things.”

Here is a list of some habits that can get you well on your way to complete mental clarity and focus.

Clutter Outside Means Clutter Inside


Believe it or not, there is a very strong connection between the state of your external physical space and your internal mental space. As it turns out, a messed up external environment often leads to increased stress in the mind. When you have a cluttered physical space, then your mind will be constantly distracted and exposed to too many stimuli. For this reason alone, you should treat your physical space like a sanctuary — a sort of temple where your mind can be at peace.

If there are items you aren’t using at a particular time, make sure they remain outside of your field of vision, including your periphery. Once these items are out of your sight, they will most likely be out of your mind as well. The same applies for your virtual space as well. If there are files that you aren’t using on your desktop, make sure you put them neatly in appropriate folders. You should also strive to keep your online space as neat and organized as possible.

The Power of Routine

 
There is a tradition among sports psychologists to take their athletes through a well-defined set of steps before they make their play. Some of these may not make any sense. They’re movements that seem pretty unusual, and even unnecessary. They are important, however, for the simple reason that they make their mind relax and get into a familiar place. That way, it and they are prepped for a great performance. In a much similar way, having a well-defined daily routine, such as a ritual you go through every morning, will get your mind into the zone it needs to be in order to do some of its best work.

That routine could pretty much be anything. You might prefer to get up and make yourself a cup of coffee. Perhaps a little exercise before you begin your day. Whatever works, do it. You can experiment here and there to try out different routines and different configurations for your workspace to find what works. You will eventually notice that some routines and workspaces make you highly focused and productive. Remember, as a human being, you are primarily a creature of habit. You can use this to your advantages by molding habits for yourself that get you to perform at your very best every single time.

Aim for the 'Flow' State



This is something most people can identify with. You must have been in a situation where you were deeply absorbed in a particular activity. So absorbed, in fact, that you even lost all sense of the passage of time. You were immune to all distraction and seemed to exist solely in a cocoon with whatever activity it was that you were engaged in. That is what psychologists call the state of “flow.” It is a state where your mind becomes completely occupied by the task at hand. Many people say that it is probably the happiest a human being can be because it involves a state of absolute peace with yourself and a selfless devotion to what you’re doing.

If you want to get into this state, you have to strike a certain balance between the amount of skill you have and the complexity of the challenge you’re facing. If you happen to be more skilled than the challenge that lies before you demands, then you’re more likely than not to get bored and stop working altogether. On the other hand, if the challenge is far more complex than your skills can match, then you’re going to be frustrated and anxious about your performance.

The trick here is to find a way to stretch yourself so that you’re always just beyond your comfort zone in terms of skill. However, don’t stretch yourself so far that you suffer from performance anxiety. That way, you ensure a continuous state of growth. Being in that sweet spot keeps your mind constantly in focus and ensures you’re performing at your optimal level.
 

The Evils of Multitasking


People think that multitasking is something to be proud of. I can’t count the number of times I hear people say “I can multitask” like it’s supposed to be a superpower. My pet peeve is when it’s used as a gender stereotype like when people say women are better at multitasking than men. Well, it isn’t a good thing, and it certainly isn’t something to be proud of, especially in this day and age when multitasking is the rule rather than the exception.

To be entirely honest, the term “multitask” is often used incorrectly these days. What people really do when they think they’re multitasking is that they switch between tasks. It’s a fairly useful thing when you’re trying to do many mundane things at the same time — the kind of things that don’t require you to think too hard. It’s not very useful, though, when you’re using it on more significant tasks that require a deeper focus. In fact, during such times, it is more detrimental than it is beneficial.

There is a method Hayes told us about that we liked a lot. It is called the three-to-one method and is very simple in principle. When you have several things to do, narrow them down to the three most important tasks. Once you’ve done that, focus on one of the three tasks at a time, giving it your full attention for a while. Give yourself enough time on the task that you can do something meaningful and productive while you’re on it. The, you can move onto the next task and the next, and then come back to the first and so on. That way, you rotate between the three tasks but you give yourself ample time to do meaningful work for each. That kind of balance ensures your mind is able to focus more deeply on the task at hand and makes it more productive.

Master a Good Rhythm Between Work and Rest



There are plenty of studies that show that people are at their most productive when they have a working rhythm of work and rest. They work intensely for a period of time, then take a short rest, then get back to work, and so on. Perhaps the most popular application of this theory is the Pomodoro Technique. Here, you work nonstop for a period of 25 minutes then rest for 5 minutes. The full cycle of work and rest is 30 minutes and keeps repeating itself. After a few cycles, say 5, you can take a longer break of 15 or 20 minutes. Note that it doesn’t have to be 25 minutes and 5 minutes. You could just as easily work for 50 minutes and take a rest of 20 minutes. The idea is to start with smaller cycles and work your way up to the longer ones gradually.

In order for you to be at your most productive, it’s important that you give your mind the opportunity to rest, especially after a prolonged period of deep and intensive work. You don’t have to settle for any specific cycle. Anything that works for you is good enough.
 

Don’t Forget About Sleep and Diet


What you eat goes a long way in determining the state of your body. You are, as the saying goes, what you eat. If you tend to eat foods that are too high in refined carbohydrates or fats like processed foods, you will experience a general slowing down of the mind and body. Studies actually show that such foods tend to have a negative effect on our thinking process.

The same is true if you don’t get enough sleep. Not even scientists have a definitive answer for why humans need to sleep. The fact of the matter, however, is that our minds and bodies can’t function well without it. A lack of sleep leads to stunted thinking and learning skills along with a host of health-related issues.

The best advice I can give you here is to do your best to stay away from processed foods, animal products and refined sugars. Eat more fruits and vegetables and go for as much whole plant food as you can. It really does pay off for your brain.

This is a guest blog entry.

Wednesday, July 18, 2018

Smart Steps for Growing Older

Throughout our lives, things change. Whether it's from childhood to the teenage years or middle age to early senior status, there's no denying that things in our new life stage won't be quite the same as things in the old one.

When those changes involve reduced independence, they can be very difficult to accept. However, whether we accept them or not, they are coming, and we need to be prepared to deal with them.

For those of us reaching senior citizen age, there are many different issues we need to think about. Some can be a little intimidating, but the most important thing to remember is that when you make a change by choice, it can keep you from having to make a change without a choice.

One of the most common ones is a reduction in mobility. After many years of working hard and playing hard, sometimes our bodies just don't have the balance or range of motion that they once did, or at least not without pain.

Fortunately, creative people in health care have come up with some great products that can do a lot to minimize the impact of lower mobility. For people who may be able to move around unassisted for daily activities but may need some help with longer distances, the bulky wheelchair has been replaced by a compact electric wheel chair that provides all the help they need without taking up half the car and requiring assistance to move around.

Another common transition for seniors is in their living arrangements. Oftentimes the sprawling multi-level home where they raised the family is too big to keep up, too difficult to get around in, or too far from close friends. As a result, they end up moving to a senior residential development of some kind, which could be anything from an apartment to a townhouse or any of countless other options.

Developments like these are built to be comfortable and safe for senior residents, with difficult maintenance tasks and even meals provided by staff. This reduces the burden of daily living and allows seniors to avoid the most difficult or dangerous tasks, letting them focus on relaxing and socializing with friends and neighbors with similar interests.

One other option is for seniors to stay in their longtime homes but to get assistance with the most problematic tasks. An early choice here is often to hire someone for lawn care and house cleaning, but there are many other options available.

A good example is home health care. Seniors who are recovering from injuries or from events such as strokes or heart attacks can often benefit from in-home medical care from a nurse or other caregiver. These workers visit on a regular schedule and oversee things like physical therapy and medications.

They also provide companionship and monitor the senior for changes in health, such as increasing difficulty moving around or early signs of dementia, providing an earlier opportunity to intervene and slow the progression of these conditions. Home care is often covered by Medicare and private insurers, so the cost can be manageable.

No matter what age we are, we see changes in our lives with each new year. The question isn't whether things will stay the same but rather how we will adapt to those changes, and it's no different for people entering their golden years. Fortunately, a good plan for anticipating and reacting to these changes will help minimize their impact and help seniors maintain independence and quality of life.

This is a blog post by Nancy Evans.