Vibrant Mind: Skill 6
Skill Six: Improving Mental Focus
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20 WAYS TO COMBAT BRAIN DRAIN NOW
Strengthen attention and productivity at work and study
If you’re suffering from brain drain, you’ll find it very difficult to sustain your attention throughout sedentary, repetitive tasks. Studying or reading feels next to impossible. You feel distracted, fed-up and unproductive. When you are mentally fatigued, your brain feels tired. You are foggy and sluggish. As sunlight in the darker seasons dwindles, your energy does, too.
Here are some of the signs you might be suffering from brain drain.
- Mental exhaustion illustrated by lack of focus.
- Irritation, drowsiness or dread when thinking about what you have to do.
- Putting off certain tasks because they are “too hard to think about.”
- Snipping and griping at others.
- Feeling as if the harder you work, the farther behind you get.
- Feeling depressed, overwhelmed, stressed out, or as if you can’t keep up mentally with your task list.
- Not being able to sustain attention or focus while reading or during repetitive tasks.
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20 TIPS FOR TACKLING MENTAL FATIGUE
- Make sure your workspace is full of sensory material that is pleasing and positive – photos, quotes, books, art. Activate your inspiration rather than expecting some mysterious force to keep you inspired.
- Tackle the most challenging material or your most daunting tasks first. Our brains are at their best in the morning.
- Peppermint oil and citrus-based oils are very stimulating for cognition. Use a diffuser or mix the essential oil with a base (such as almond oil). Use it as a body rub. Just check whether your co-workers/study mates are allergic.
- Chew gum, suck on peppermint and drink ice water. Staying hydrated all day will help your brain and body stay alert.
- If you’re not sensitive to caffeine, one cup of coffee in the morning can boost your attention.
- Get up and stretch or take a short stroll every hour or 30 minutes. Don’t stay frozen in your seat.
- Step outside for a second. Breathe! Switch out your regular lightbulbs for lights that mimic sunlight. Use a light therapy box to wake up.
- See if your employer would support a standing desk or one that can be moved to various heights. Maintain good posture, move. Many subtle exercises such as calf lifts and neck rolls can be performed throughout the day. Wake up the body and brain through movement.
- Eat regular meals, but step away from your workstation. Do not eat at your desk.
- Keep your workspace organized. Look on Pinterest for great ideas.
- Set goals and identify priorities each day. Check off when done. Break down your project into smaller chunks. Experiment with paper lists and sticky notes. This works better than using your phone.
- Listen to music.
- Listen to an inspirational TED talk, podcast or watch your favorite comedy or comedian.
- Take a caffeine nap for lunch (you should avoid caffeine after 2 pm!). Coffee + <20-minute power nap! Set your alarm if you plan to dose…you don’t want to miss that meeting.
- Get on YouTube or an App and find a short relaxation, breathing or meditation exercise. Just watch stress thoughts come and go. Oxygen = wake-up time for mental faculties. Practice the art of centering, grounding. Mindfulness is where it’s at if you want to feel more “in the now” vs spaced out and in your head! Read everything you can about Mindfulness to learn how to be right in the moment so you don’t miss out on life! Mindful is simply the opposite of mindless. Scroll down and see our recommendations for the best Mindfulness tools out there.
- Call a friend. Give or get a pep talk!
- Avoid social media which can elicit more self-doubt and tire you out before you even start.
- FOCUS ON INTENTION, INTENTION, INTENTION. What’s the pay-off for focusing on your task? Why is it necessary? What’s the point? Write down your answer.
- Notice sleepy periods wax and wane. They pass. You don’t have to throw in the towel. You can wait for the circuits to fire up again.
© Vibrant Health Company LLC All Rights Reserved.
Traci Baxendale Ball, LMSW, CAADC is the founder of Vibrant Health Company LLC
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