You’re a go-getter.
An ambitious striver.
Someone who cares about self-development.
But right now, you’re not operating at the top of your game, and you’re tired of feeling…tired.
We get it — and we’ve all been there.
Thankfully, solutions abound — especially if your brain fog is merely a lack of clear-minded energy.
If you’re interested in learning all the ins and outs of mental clarity, pull up a seat — because we’re dissecting it all below.
- What Is Mental Clarity?
- Why Is Clarity of the Mind So Important?
- 9 Ways To Improve Mental Clarity With Mindfulness
- Clues That You Are Lacking Mental Clarity
- What Are The Causes of Low Clarity of Mind?
What Is Mental Clarity?
What is the meaning of mental clarity? It refers to an optimal state of mind wherein you’re:
- More focused
- Ruminating less
- More aware of your feelings
- More in control of your emotions
- Fully engaged in what you’re doing
Flow is a “supersonic” state of mental clarity in which you become 100% immersed in what you’re doing. The sensation is common among professional athletes, chess players, gamers, surgeons, and dancers.
Reaching a state of mental clarity requires work because it’s not our default mindset.
While we rank among the most advanced species on Earth, we’re still animals with survival instincts and are constantly on the lookout for danger, putting us naturally on edge.
Confronting your “shadow self” is another hurdle you must clear to achieve true mind clarity.
When you let your worst instincts captain the ship, you end up in dark, destructive places.
Why Is Clarity of the Mind So Important?
People who achieve mental clarity enjoy tremendous benefits. Let’s review a few.
Helps You Focus
People with clarity are rarely rudderless. They have a direction and are better able to reach their goals because they map out SMART ones.
What does that mean?
SMART is an acronym for goal setting that stands for:
- Specific: Drilling down to specifics allows for better planning.
- Measurable: What are the benchmarks? How can you track your progress?
- Achievable / Attainable: Is your goal realistic in the allotted time frame?
- Relevant: Goals should align with your views, values, and long-term objectives. Otherwise, they lack purpose, and you’re less likely to see them through.
- Time-Bound: Set an end date to keep you motivated.
Makes It Easier To Operate
Do you tend to give up halfway through a project when things get rough, or do you lose interest? This is common among people with scattered or clouded thinking.
If this describes you, don’t beat yourself up. It doesn’t mean you’re incapable or dumb. You just need to learn how to plan and execute.
Moreover, understanding why you’re doing something helps you perform at your best and fulfill the task at hand.
Helps You Prioritize Better
Learning how to prioritize is often the difference between success and failure — and mental clarity is 75% of the battle.
People without mental clarity often overthink things, making it difficult to determine what’s truly important and what can be put off till a later date.
Eliminating brain fog will improve your organizational skills and transform you into a gifted planner that produces results.
Makes You More Productive
Individuals who can separate the wheat from the chaff have more mental space and energy to focus on priorities.
To be clear, we’re not evangelizing a “rise-and-grind” mindset. Studies repeatedly prove that people who live balanced lives produce better work and live much happier lives. So, by all means, kick those feet up when need be.
But when you have a clear mind, you think more effectively and consistently produce top-quality work.
Makes You Kinder
Clear-thinking people are often kinder ones. That’s not to say that scatterbrained folks aren’t friendly and compassionate; many are.
But sometimes, when working with a discombobulated brain, we let our lesser instincts lead the way.
We become more judgmental, suspicious, and self-focused when we’re unclear about where we’ve been and where we’re headed.
Easier To Overcome Doubt
Clear-headed people are less likely to be drowning in self-doubt. Plus, they understand that everyone — including themselves — has talents and skills.
Resultantly, other peoples’ defeating opinions don’t phase them.
Sharp-minded folks appreciate constructive, helpful, and valid criticism but have zero need for naysayers, killjoys, and misanthropes.
Knowing that perseverance is a key to success, they’re also not afraid of hard work.
Makes You Even Smarter
A 2016 research paper published in Nature found that self-esteem positively modulates neural activity. In other words, feeling good about yourself improves cognitive function.
To be sure, researchers still have miles to go in fully understanding the links between intelligence and mindset, but they know they exist.
Until they figure it out, suffice it to say that clear judgment fosters better memory recall, quicker thinking, and improved sleep. Plus, on-the-ball people shine professionally.
9 Ways To Improve Mental Clarity With Mindfulness
Not our default state. It takes work. But pursuing mental clarity is one of the most productive things you can do to grow as a person and reach your goals.
How’s it done? Let’s look at a few exercises to boost your brain power.
1. Quality Sleep
Yes, eating well and exercising are vital components of a healthy lifestyle — but sleep is essential. Without it, our bodies go haywire.
And the quality matters.
Sleep science is both complicated and inchoate. But, suffice it to say, sleep quality ultimately depends on wakefulness and the number of REM-to-deep-sleep cycles achieved.
Researchers also agree that adults aged 18 and older need at least seven hours of restful sleep for optimal mental performance.
If you, like millions of others, are battling insomnia, consider trying body scan meditations. It’s an easy solution that many folks find highly effective.
Self-care should be a constant in your life. A lack of it leads to burnout and other preventable problems.
You don’t need to get a massage and spa treatment weekly (although good for you if you have the time and budget)!
For most of us, though, taking just 30 minutes to ourselves, at least three times a week, to do something enjoyable — like meditating, watching your favorite show, or soaking in a bath — does the trick. Just make sure it’s something that gives your brain and body a break.
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3. Eat Nutritiously
Mental health and nutrition are linked. The healthier we eat, the better we feel. Foods especially good for mental clarity include fatty fish, like salmon, tuna, mackerel, anchovies, and albacore, in addition to leafy greens, berries, and lots of water.
Start small if your nutrition level isn’t exactly admirable and you don’t have a taste for nutritious food. Commit to eating at least one healthy thing a day — even if it’s just some fruit.
After a month of that, push it up to two things. Every little bit helps, and over time, your taste buds will adjust, and you’ll begin to enjoy the taste of it.
4. Get Professional Help
These days, it’s hard to find someone who doesn’t have a therapist, life coach, guru, or psychoanalyst.
And thank nature for that!
Talk and cognitive counseling have gone from taboo to commonplace over the past two decades, and it’s done wonders for millions of people.
Professionals can recognize behavioral and subconscious trauma patterns and tailor treatment plans for your exact situation, lifestyle, and experiences.
Exercise does the body — (and mind) — good! The research is definitive, getting your heart pumping:
- Improves memory and other cognitive functions
- Lowers blood pressure
- Improves heart health and stimulates the circulatory system
- Reduces stress, anxiety, and depression
- Maintains muscle strength and balance
- Increases lifespan
You needn’t run a marathon or spend two hours in the gym daily. Cleaning, gardening, and walking all fall under the beneficial movement umbrella — as does yoga.
Instead of trying to reach impossible goals, push your limits. Listen to your body and respect what it’s telling you.
6. Learn To Say “No”
Are you a “yes” person? When the PTA needs volunteers, are you the first in line? What about at work? Are you constantly taking on responsibilities that fall outside the scope of your position?
If you’re always piling your plate with more, you have less time for yourself, your family, and your sanity — which leads to burnout and brain fog.
7. Get a Checkup
Physical and mental health go hand-in-hand.
So if you’re not quite feeling yourself, it may have to do with your physical health. For example, things like iron deficiency may cause you to become severely fatigued and unable to think well.
If you don’t have insurance, look up clinics in your area. Getting a check-up may not be nearly as expensive as you think, and the problem may be easily rectified.
8. Practice Mindfulness
Mindfulness is the art of living presently — in the moment.
More than just woo-woo claptrap, peer-reviewed, double-blind studies continuously prove that people who incorporate mindfulness activities into their lifestyles enjoy less stress, better emotional control, and higher cognitive functioning.
Click here for an introduction to how mindfulness works.
9. Manage Stress
Stress kills. People who don’t manage it are more likely to deal with high blood pressure, heart disease, anxiety, depression, and diabetes.
There are many ways to tackle stress and get it under control, like doing mindfulness activities and eating better. A lot of people also find stress trackers helpful.
Clues That You Are Lacking Mental Clarity
You understand the benefits of mental clarity and the tools available to help you achieve it — but what clues signal that you’re operating with a murky mind?
You sit down to work, and all your mind wants to ponder are past mistakes, future worries, and current annoyances.
Moreover, you’ve lost your ability to focus. Instead, your brain hops around like a field rabbit on speed.
You may think of brain fog as a static state, but it’s actually exhausting. After all, your mind is constantly running to and fro. If you’re always tired and worn down, there’s a good chance part of your problem is a lack of mental clarity.
Are you ever having a conversation and the words you need refuse to come out and play? Even simple phrases are hard to come by. If so, you may be suffering from a lack of mental clarity.
Memory recall is a sign of optimal mental performance. When we’re operating on all cylinders, we “pop.” Ideas and solutions flow through us like a babbling brook. People may even remark on how “bright” we are.
And guess what? Most of us are capable of reaching this state. It may just take a bit of brain-clearing work.
Lack of Motivation and Loss of Interest
Things that once excited you no longer do.
Moreover, your interest in getting outside, spending time with loved ones, and learning new things is at an all-time low. Instead, you spend most of your time blobbed out in front of a screen.
Strong minds crave knowledge and thrive on focus, which requires mental clarity. When you’re supply is low, lethargy and disinterest set up shop.
In the morning, you’re complacent. By afternoon, you’re doing a bit better. When 5 o’clock rolls around, you’re annoyed.
Does this emotional roller coaster sound familiar? If so, it may be a clue that you may need to work on your mental clarity.
What Are The Causes of Low Clarity of Mind?
What pushes you into a state of low mental clarity? Every person is different, but it’s often a combination of:
- Poor Quality Sleep: People over 18 need at least seven hours of sleep a night to operate at their best. Anything less can lead to problems. If you’re battling insomnia or other slumber issues, consider looking into sleep hygiene techniques.
- Unaddressed Trauma: The past informs the present. And while we shouldn’t linger in days gone by, it’s essential to acknowledge and address any traumas rooted in that time that may be holding you back now.
- Stress and Anxiety: Cortisol is a stress hormone. High levels cause poor circulation, which decreases the amount of oxygen to the brain, triggering muddled thinking.
- Poor Nutrition: For people with sweet teeth and a taste for rich, decedent foods may cringe at the fact, but there’s no denying that we are what we eat. Your brain may be paying the price if your diet is feather-light on healthy foods.
The first step to a razor-sharp, optimally functioning brain is acknowledging you need to make some tweaks.
It may be challenging at first, but magic awaits once you implement the changes.