When it comes to mental clutter, we all come with some unwanted mind baggage. Between busy schedules, lack of sleep and the stress of day to day life, burnout is becoming more and more common. This raises the question: How can we improve mental clarity in our overstimulated world?
Finding inner peace and mental clarity is not only possible, but with the right tools, it can be accomplished in no time. Here are five techniques to improve your mental clarity in just 10 minutes:
Take a screen break
In this moment you are probably reading this article, while texting your friend and drafting a work email. While technology certainly makes our lives easier, there is a downside.
"We are exposing our brains to an environment and asking them to do things we weren’t necessarily evolved to do," says Adam Gazzaley, a neuroscientist at the University of California, San Francisco. "We know already there are consequences."
In one study, 200 students went 24 hours without using technology and then wrote about their experiences. Results showed that when students were unable to use their phones and computers they felt uncomfortable, anxious and bored.
In today’s digital age, most of us are glued to our devices, which is why we could all benefit from a digital detox now and then. This will help you become present and focused on the task at hand.
To help you get started on your digital detox, here are a few guidelines:
- Set a time limit for how long you will spend on social media. For instance, if you browse through your Instagram feed on your commute to and from work, try just listening to music one way.
- Change one habit at a time. It’s unrealistic to cut everything out all at once. This could include putting phones away and turning the television off during meals, or if you are in a relationship, you could implement a “no phones in the bedroom” rule. Did you know the mere presence of a phone impacts the level of intimacy and connection you share?
- Stay busy. Cook, exercise, spend time with friends – the point is to plan fun activities where technology temptation is limited.
Step away from the phone. I know it’s hard, but you can do it. Your mind will thank you!
Incorporate meditation into your daily routine
Meditation quiets the mind and teaches us how to connect to the present. By entering a peaceful mental state, we are able to see everything with greater clarity and better handle life’s challenges.
When many people think of meditation, they imagine sitting still for hours on end. They say to themselves, Well I don’t have time, so why bother? Meditation, however, is not a one-size-fits all approach. There are many different ways to meditate, some of which require sitting still while others involve movement. Some of the more well-known methods include transcendental meditation, Zen meditation, Buddhist meditation, Taoist meditation, and walking meditation.
The beauty of meditation is even if you meditate for five minutes, you can experience the positive health benefits.
More specifically, meditation is scientifically proven to enhance cognitive brain function. In a study published in Psychological Science, intensive meditation helps people concentrate and sustain their attention, even during tedious tasks.
With meditation, you are relaxing the brain into focus mode, rather than compelling it. By practicing meditation on a daily basis, you can effortlessly enter a clear, focused state.
“In meditation, any attempt to quiet the mind using force won't work,” says Deepak Chopra, spiritual teacher and author. “The everyday mind is full of thoughts, feelings, sensations, worries, daydreams, and fantasies. But at a deeper level, the mind begins in silence. Finding that level deeper than thought is the essence of meditation.”
In another study published in the journal Mindfulness, practicing meditation before class was shown to help students focus and perform at a higher level. Researchers separated the students into two groups; one group meditated before the lecture and one did not. The students who meditated before the lecture scored higher on the quiz compared to the students who did not meditate.
Whether you are a beginner or have been practicing for years, here are some to make the most of your meditation practice:
- Set an intention. Know what you want to get out of your meditation practice. Is it to lower stress and anxiety? Improve sleep? Gain clarity? All of the above?
- Let go of expectations and be patient with yourself. During meditation, stressful thoughts may come and go. It’s important to understand thoughts only have as much power as you give them. Simply take a deep breath and start again.
- Reflect. Observe the feelings you are experiencing and take notes. Do you notice a certain thought pattern? Is it more positive or negative? Continue to take notes over the next few weeks. Do you notice a difference before and after meditation?
By following these steps, you will increase your self-awareness and improve your mental clarity in the process.
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While this natural healing technique has become increasingly popular in recent years, it dates back thousands of years. Aromatherapy uses essential oils extracted flowers and parts of plants, and when these essential oils are inhaled they can help treat many different mental and physical health problems.
Aromatherapy can be used through direct inhalation, vaporizer, humidifier, perfume, and aromatherapy diffusers. The oils activate the smell receptors in your nose, going straight to the limbic system in your brain - the part of the brain that affects your memory, learning, and more.
Essential oils are filled with antioxidants proven to help with memory and mental clarity, which is why aromatherapy is especially beneficial for people with memory-related mental illnesses such as Alzheimers and dementia.
When it comes to improving mental clarity, sandalwood is excellent as an incense or fragrance. It was commonly used in ancient Chinese medicine and Ayurveda for its powerful healing abilities.
Science also confirms sandalwood’s health benefits. According to research, participants who received sandalwood oil felt increased mental awareness and attention compared to the control group.
Dr. Axe explains the most effective way to use sandalwood for mental clarity is to “apply a few drops, about 2 to 4, to the ankles or wrists at times of high stress or overwhelm throughout the day.” Other options include “directly inhale the oil if you do not want to apply it directly to your skin. You can also use it in a diffuser to allow everyone in the house to enjoy it. Or add a few drops to the bath water at the end of a long day.”
If you’re looking to boost your focus and concentration, our organic essential oil blend is both stimulating and therapeutic.
Have you noticed that sense of calm you feel after you connect to nature? Nothing promotes well-being quite like being outdoors.
Think about the feeling of walking through a park. You look around and see the beautiful green trees, smell the flowers and feel the cool air against your face, all of your senses are heightened. In that moment, you are connected to the present.
As it turns out, your external environment does impact your internal environment.
Azadeh Aalai Ph.D. says, “The discovery of the structural plasticity of the brain—the brain’s ability to form new neural connections and rewire itself based in part on environmental exposures—places a larger burden on people to expose themselves to enriching environments from the perspective of the health of the brain.”
In other words, surrounding yourself with “enriching environments” - nature, being at the top of the list - has the ability to rewire your brain.
“Nature can be soothing for a number of reasons, not least of which is that there is a certain stillness and quiet that can be gained from being outdoors in lush and green environments that is masked when we are walking outside on busy streets with a lot of traffic, other people, and man-made sounds such as that of construction, the ear buds in our heads, etc,” Aalai explains. “To the extent that our senses can be overloaded in modern culture, the opportunity to reconnect with the spirit can be enhanced by reconnecting with nature and more basic stimulations.”
The good news is even if you’re a city dweller, you can still reap the health benefits of nature. Something as simple as listening to the sound of birds, looking at the sky or trees can improve your mental health.
Your healing journey starts now. By following these tips, you are well on your way to increased mental clarity!