Food has an amazing ability to affect your mental clarity, mood, memory, and your ability to focus and to feel calm. If you’re looking to boost your focus, one of the places you should start with is what you’re eating. Below are some general suggestions and specific foods that may help you improve your focus.
Eat Breakfast. Studies have found that eating breakfast may improve short-term memory and attention. Foods at the top of researchers' brain-fuel list include high-fiber whole grains, protein, dairy, and fruits. Just don't overeat; researchers also found high-calorie breakfasts appear to hinder concentration.
Keep Regular Mealtimes. Your mid-day meal should be the largest if possible with a light meal at supper. Eat moderately, neither fasting nor indulging in large meals.
Relax. Take time to relax after eating. You'll digest better and feel more calm, satisfied, and ready to focus on your next task.
If you have gastrointestinal (GI) concerns, consider trying the SHARE Model (below) to ease discomfort and restore more resilient GI health. The Share Model is a modified version of the 5 Rs from The Institute for Functional Medicine.
If you're not sure about your symptoms, visit your doctor and then visit the Natural Digestion section for more information and support as you work to improve your GI health.
There are some basic GI health supplements from Resilient Remedies that can help you as you implement SHARE. See below for these supports.
Did your parents used to tell you, “Do as I say, not as I do”?
That wasn’t a very effective strategy then, and it still isn’t. Like it or not, kids are far more likely to do as we do.
So, if you bemoan how kids seem to have a phone or other device as one of their appendages, look in the mirror before threatening dire consequences if they don’t “put that thing down right now!”
Disclaimer: I’m sorry if it sounds like I’m pointing a finger at you. Truth is, when I point at you, my other fingers point back at me! I’m a grandma of five kids, ages 10 – 14, with whom I spend a lot of time. I also have a pretty close relationship with my electronic devices. I’ve had to work at this technology balance too!
There are two important questions to ask yourself while looking in the mirror:
As we enter the season of great festivities, I realize once more that this is the time of year when my therapy clients begin to talk about loneliness, isolation, and grief. My first Christmas disappointment was getting a generic “Lovely Linda” doll instead of a Tiny Tears. The heartache (for a child)! I can clearly remember the sinking in my stomach when I realized I wasn’t getting the real thing. For too many people, that sinking feeling lasts from October through New Year’s Eve.
The image of your perfect holiday may have to do with childhood memories of special foods, tree decorating rituals, and beautifully wrapped presents under that tree (and Tiny Tears in one of those packages!). Glossy holiday images also tempt us in sentimental movies, TV commercials, and a barrage of magazine recipes for this year’s version of the new best food for the holidays.
Despite the focus on food and presents, the perfect holiday...
Our annual journey around the sun has crossed the threshold that creates a mild sense of dread in many people—winter is coming. The days are now shorter than the nights, and if you live north of a line going through Atlanta, you are probably noticing a change in your biology. Your body wants you to hibernate. Most of us don’t actually hibernate, and probably wouldn’t feel good if we did, but living out of sync with nature’s rhythms comes at a cost.
You may just feel a little sluggish, want to sleep more, crave comfort foods, or have a harder time getting to a gym. Or, you may feel something more—a specific form of depression known as seasonal affective disorder (known by the apt acronym SAD).
Seasonal affective disorder refers to a form of depression that occurs at a specific time of year. For most people, that means the winter, though there are subsets that occur in the spring or summer. Look for...
Has the weather got you down? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. A significant amount of folks (about 10 to 20%) experience seasonal symptoms of low mood or decreased energy. When symptoms are more severe, it’s often called seasonal affective disorder or SAD. Winter is the most common time for SAD, but some individuals may have similar shifts during other seasons. For this article we'll focus on fall and winter.
It's important to meet with a health professional if you are experiencing these symptoms. Along with their guidance, you may find it helpful to try light therapy.
Research suggests that a big part...
Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.
Where do I go when I feel burned out? I head to the mountains, forests, rivers, lakes, and desert landscapes for rejuvenation and a sense of calm. That simple step of heading outside almost magically shifts my internal landscape. I think of this immersion in a wild environment as “swimming with the senses.”
As a physician, I’ve sought out the scientific support for how these healing effects of nature take place. It's a free activity, there are no side effects, but is it just good for me or is something my patients should do too?
Well-known authors, poets, political leaders, and healers from all over the world have understood this connection between health in mind, body, and spirit, and the natural world. I love Seth Adam Smith’s...
You've likely been told that you HAVE to meditate. Perhaps even in a particular seated position, in a particular outfit, in a particularly-decorated room.
Have you tried that strict meditation technique only to discover that you're more stressed out when you finish than before you began it?
Don’t worry! That meditation technique is just one mind-body practice and there are many others to explore that can offer the same benefits. Finding a better fit is worth your time as many mind-body practices will work to enhance your ability to deal with symptoms related to depression, anxiety, or focus. This ability is often called “emotional regulation” or “self-regulation.” At Natural Mental Health, we also refer to this ability as resilience.
Additionally, as you find practices that fit you better, you'll be more likely to practice consistently and for longer durations at a time. This is key because the time you practice and the positive...
It's National Suicide Prevention Week (and month). Let's make space for ourselves and those around us who may be suffering. May we help each other stay.
"None of us can truly know what we mean to other people, and none of us can know what our future self will experience. History and philosophy ask us to remember these mysteries, to look around at friends, family, humanity, at the surprises life brings — the endless possibilities that living offers — and to persevere. There is love and insight to live for, bright moments to cherish, and even the possibility of happiness, and the chance of helping someone else through his or her own troubles. Know that people, through history and today, understand how much courage it takes to stay. Bear witness to the night side of being human and the bravery it entails, and wait for the sun. If we meditate on the record of human wisdom we may find there reason enough to persist and find...
Let me start by saying that the field of psychiatry has greatly oversimplified brain chemistry, and I’m guilty of doing that again here. Nonetheless, a more simple way of understanding and talking about this very complex subject is necessary. A bit of understanding of brain chemistry can help you create a healthy, well-functioning brain and a good, sustainable mood.
I have come to view the brain as functioning mostly through communication from one part to another. There are a series of discrete centers, or nuclei in the brain, each with a unique job to do. All of these areas need to communicate effectively with one another for the brain to work well. That is done through the flow of energy between these centers, and it is accomplished largely via the neurons. In a way, they are like electrical wires transferring energy from one place to another. Neurons are separated from one another by a small space called a...
The NMH newsletter goes out twice monthly. You'll receive helpful tips, resources, and special offers to optimize your mental health and create more joy, calm, and focus in your life.