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How to avoid brain fog and stay mentally fresh

6 minute read

By Micah Yongo

I get it. You've been working hard and long. You deserve a reward, and you know scrolling through social media or watching a bit of TV will deliver an appealing dopamine hit; it feels good.

But here's the thing. Research shows that what you actually need to be at your best are things that feed the brain’s natural recovery systems. This means activities that promote those calming brain rhythms otherwise known as alpha waves.

These restful rhythms allow the frontoparietal network (basically the brain’s supercomputer for focus) to refuel, while also promoting the kind of creative headspace in which you can discover novel insights, solve problems and be inventive.

So try this

The next time you feel your focus starting to wane, punch through your mental fatigue by clicking the ‘recharge’ button on your launchpad.

You'll find an assortment of science-based resources designed to trigger your brain’s reward circuitry and boost those handy alpha waves.

You can use the picker to easily zero in on the type of help your brain needs. Or you can click the ‘browse’ tab at the top of the page to choose for yourself. Here are some tips on what to look for…

Stressed?

Your body has a built-in stress cycle for handling challenging experiences. The problem is that all of that highly sophisticated wiring evolved from once having to flee the threat of predators. Unfortunately, today this means a pressing deadline or oversized to-do list can kick you into the same biochemical state needed to sprint away from a wild bear.

For the stress cycle to complete properly, you need to actually move your body. The alternative is sitting in a neurochemical stew of undischarged stress hormones. Cue burnout, raised blood pressure, energy dumps, disrupted sleep and reduced focus.

The solution

Airflow is a dynamic guide to using breathwork and other exercises to keep your mind charged and ready for focus.

Each video provides a brief step-by-step guide on how to consciously control your breath and move your body to reduce stress, aid circulation and elevate those alpha brainwaves that lead to fresh thinking, healthier living, and recharged focus.

But don’t take my word for it. Here’s a taster. See for yourself…

Stuck?

When our focus ceases, a system called the default mode network naturally comes online in our brain. We daydream. Researchers used to think of this as an idle brain state – the car engine ticking over while it waits to be put into gear.

What we've since discovered is this 'idling' state uses about 20% of the body's energy. A sizeable amount, but in a good way.

Why?

Studies show that mind-wandering can kick us into a mental uber-state - perfect for finding flow and generating clever ideas. But to do it well, we need help.

What to do

Block your schedule into two-hour distraction-free zones. During this period, don’t take any calls and mute all notifications.

You’ll spend 50 minutes doing focused work, then the next 10-15 minutes recharging your brain using FLOWN Quests.

Quests are specially designed audio experiences. They tap into proven practices to help shift your focus, ignite your senses and engage the imagination – the perfect cocktail for boosting your mood, focus and creativity.

As they say, the proof is in the pudding. See for yourself…

Tired?

Some call it concentration, researchers call it ‘directed attention’. What we know is that it’s a precious and limited cognitive resource. When we exhaust it by focusing for too long, our ability to make sound decisions and remain productive nosedives.

Science has shown that switching our attention away from work to gaze at nature is one of the most effective ways to replenish our brain’s energies and get our focus back on track. The bonus is that this is effective even if viewing a natural scene through a screen, and only 40 seconds of it is needed.

Try this

Take a break from your work every hour. Go to your launchpad and click the header to access a Green Scene. Simply gaze at the scene and breathe, as guided, for 40 seconds, and voilà – the perfect snappy top-up for your brain’s energy reserves.

Of course, the best way to avoid getting to the stressed/stuck/tired zone in the first place is to schedule recharges as part of your daily working practice.

Ideally, you should aim to do a recharge for every 1-2 hours of focused work to keep your productive energies in tip-top shape. But you'll find managing just one or two per day to be highly effective and energising.

Moral of the story:

Happy brain = happy life = better work.

So, love your brain. Recharge your focus. And get more done, more easily.

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