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© 2018 Dr. Nicole A. Tetreault. Site designed by Tealix Design.

Brain fog? Lift the cloud!

 

The absolute awesomeness of twenty-four seven connectedness is exactly what distorts our reality of space and time causing us to be more scattered, stressed, unfocused, overwhelmed, and even less productive.  I am as guilty as this as anyone else, where I send an excited text at 10pm at night and my friend is all the way in New York, it’s 1am.  After I hit send, I realize with embarrassment she is most likely asleep and I may have woken her with a nonessential and an annoying text.  So how do we balance the excitement of ideas and collaboration where the timing is right for everyone to participate with all cylinders firing? I developed a list of rules that can help navigate maximum potential while manifesting the greatness and excitement along the way.  

 

  • Monotasking  Focus on a single activity at a time.  Recent studies find that cognitive overload can be caused by too much media multitasking, which impairs learning in heavy media users. Our devices are a constant feed with status updates, emails, social media, news, and downright distraction.   Unfortunately more often than not, the loudest thing gets our attention.  Other times the deception of tiny rewards, like the pinging of a chain of texts, derails our train of thought.  Shutting down devices and focusing on a single task at a time lends to greater productivity.  The cool thing is when we focus a single task and complete it we get the big reward, dopamine, released from the brain which elevates mood and increases drive to move to the next task.

 

  • Time your caffeine break wisely  Make that caffeine buzz work in your favor.  Notice when you need a solitude coffee break or a strategic planning break.  A quiet coffee break allows you to reorganize your schedule, prioritize your tasks, listen to your intuition, and refocus your flow.  Social connection is critical for our survival and a coffee buddy can be someone to bounce ideas off, provide clarity, and laugh off that hurdle.  Before you choose to get your mid-afternoon wind up take a moment to decide whether you need solitude or connection to lift the cloud. 

 

  • Flow  Recognize when you are in flow and run with it.  Don't let anything stop you.  Okay, if the building is burning down, take the stairs to the nearest exit.  Seriously, when you are in flow you reach a state of higher level thinking and great manifestation is happening.  Deep in creative flow, higher order brain networks groove and release positive neurochemicals, elevating your mood, purpose of life, and joy.   

 

  • Set meeting times  Block time for meetings with specific goals, set time, and stay on task.  No one wants to spend twenty minutes hearing that you were up all night with your vomiting cat.  (If that is the case, take your cat to the vet immediately).  

 

  • Good night sleep is essential  Science studies show that we need at least eight hours for full brain and body recovery and memory consolidation. Think about a day when you don't get enough sleep how you're not at your best.  It’s more like a zombie brain.  Long-term lack of sleep has several negative health consequences including inflammation, stress, anxiety, weight gain, depression, and an increase in emotional reactivity.  When you get a good night’s rest your brain is wide open for business.  

 

  • Exercise  Bottom line, we were not built to sit in a chair all day.  We are moving beings and evolution designed for us to be bipedal and to walk, run, and move our bodies.  If you are sitting at your desk at any time of the day in that brain fog, opt for a fifteen minute walk break to get the blood pumping and moving through the brain and body.  The movement releases that stuck feeling and elevates blood flow to the brain.  

 

  • Eat smart  Poor and inadequate nutrition don’t allow the body and brain to function properly.  There's clear evidence that the gut brain connection is critical for mood, performance, well being and socialization.  We now know that diet effects the microbiome and unhealthy eating can cause an increase in the “bad” gut bacteria leading to inadequate nutrition.   Pay attention to food that drains you and induces the food coma.  Avoid these foods and choose foods to increase your brain power and feed your good microbes, your gut and brain will thank you.  

 

  • Go into nature  A recent study shows that elderly individuals who experience more green space filled with nature when walking in an urban setting had increased excitement and engagement and reported less frustration.  Take a break and go into the green.  

 

  • Meditate Clearing the mind with breathing exercises and meditation can do wonders. There's evidence that just centering into the breath allows for individuals to refocus their mind and prioritize tasks.  When you're feeling overwhelmed do the three minute breath, feeding your mind and body the oxygen it needs to survive.

 

References 

 

Edwards KS, Shin M. Media multitasking and implicit learning. Atten Percept

Psychophys. 2017 May 1. doi: 10.3758/s13414-017-1319-4.

 

Ernest R. Greene, Kushum Shrestha, and Analyssa Garcia

Acute Effects of Walking on Human Internal Carotid Blood Flow

FASEB J April 2017 31:840.23.

 

Ognjanovski N, Schaeffer S, Wu J, Mofakham S, Maruyama D, Zochowski M, Aton

SJ. Parvalbumin-expressing interneurons coordinate hippocampal network dynamics

required for memory consolidation. Nat Commun. 2017 Apr 6;8:15039. doi:

10.1038/ncomms15039.

 

Sampson TR, Mazmanian SK. Control of brain development, function, and behavior

by the microbiome. Cell Host Microbe. 2015 May 13;17(5):565-76. doi:

10.1016/j.chom.2015.04.011.

 

Tilley S, Neale C, Patuano A, Cinderby S. Older People's Experiences of

Mobility and Mood in an Urban Environment: A Mixed Methods Approach Using

Electroencephalography (EEG) and Interviews. Int J Environ Res Public Health.

2017 Feb 4;14(2). pii: E151. doi: 10.3390/ijerph14020151.

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