Photo courtesy of Daigo Tanaka
Today’s post is the first in our series entitled Mindful Mondays, where we will focus on improving mental clarity, memory and mood.
The older I get, the more I struggle with maintaining a clear head. It seems that thoughts swirl around in my brain, causing a whirlwind of mental activity that ultimately leads to overload. Things I really need to remember get caught up in the storm of my subconscious and end up lost.
Although there is a widespread myth that we only use 10% of our brains, that has since been dispelled. In fact, we use most parts of our brain every day, but the key is how we use it.
The problem with how most of us think is that we simply over work the part of the brain that is responsible for memory - the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex. The reason that part of our brains gets so over worked is because it is also responsible for planning, organization, regulation of intellectual functions and lying. Because so many of us spend our days planning and organizing projects that involve intellect, memory ends up taking a back seat.
I wrote earlier about improving memory, but have since learned even more on the subject. While it’s extremely possible to boost our ability to remember, the first thing we need to address is our mental clarity. Over the years, our brains have taken in a lot of useful information. Along with it came a lot of mental “junk” that we don’t need. We are constantly bombarded by information in this technologically advanced age. As the first step toward improving memory, we must first improve how that area of the brain is functioning. We have to oil the cogs and blow out the cobwebs.
Here are some of my first steps to improving mental clarity:
- Becoming a meditation master – This has made the biggest difference so far.
- Spending time each and every day in nature – This offers me a respite from information overload and also boosts my vitamin D.
- Limiting my television viewing time – The less I bombard my brain with, the better it will handle its business.
- Eliminating alcohol and aspartame – These have both been shown to inhibit overall brain function.
- Preventing blood sugar extremes – When I have a low blood sugar event, cohesive thought is next to impossible. I am trying to prevent this by eating a bunch of small meals throughout the day.
- Avoiding situations that stress me out – Emotional stress really sends our brains into a tailspin. When I say that I’m living my life drama-free, I mean it.
- Getting 8 hours of sleep each night – For me, this involves a sleep aid. Some would argue that the sleep aid inhibits memory, but I find it more beneficial to get adequate sleep than to be completely drug free.
As I move closer to the level of mental clarity I am comfortable with, I will begin incorporating more memory boosting activities. Please share with us in the comments or via email if you have any suggestions for improving brain function, and stay tuned for next week’s Mindful Monday.