“In a world deluged by irrelevant information, clarity is power.” Yuval Noah Harari
Do you have days when you find your thoughts running around all over the place, and you can’t focus on any of the tasks you need to do?
While our smartphones and technology have bought all sorts of conveniences into our lives, it can also clutter up our minds with useless information and make it hard to focus.
Here are some simple steps you can take for better mental clarity and peace of mind in the information age.
5 Simple Ways to Better Mental Clarity and Peace of Mind
1. For better mental clarity, keep a journal.
For the longest time I falsely assumed that keeping a journal or diary was meant for people who had lots of drama in their lives since they would have enough material to fill pages.
Eventually, my curiosity got the better of me and I decided to give it a shot. That was more than four years ago and I sure am glad I did.
Having a time for reflection and self-analysis can also help us go through our day more productively and prioritise more of our time and energy on what truly matters to us.
2. For better mental clarity, meditate.
Meditation is all about being paying attention to the moment. Research has shown that practicing meditation rewires our brain and thickens the prefrontal cortex which is associated with awareness, concentration and this can certainly help us to be more present in our daily lives.
While meditation is no magic pill that makes all negative thoughts go away, I’ve found that practicing meditation along with being more mindful during the day, is particularly helpful to snap out of negative thinking.
In the long run, it has given me the ability to detach myself from my thoughts and observe them without getting too caught up in them. This is important because nobody limits ourselves more than our own thoughts.
I also find it is incredibly helpful in slowing things down and calming myself when I’m feeling too restless or on days when things can get a little overwhelming.
One of the most common and traditional methods of meditation involves focussing our attention on our breathing. However, many may find this method of meditation can be difficult and even frustrating.
Fortunately, there are easy ways to induce a calm and meditative state of mind using the help of a mantra or using guided meditations which are available here on the blog, youtube, and apps like Calm and Headspace.
3. For better mental clarity, exercise.
When we usually think of exercise, we think of staying in good shape and maintaining good health, but what usually goes overlooked is the transformative ability of exercise on the brain.
In the book Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain, author John Ratey says that exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain.
Various studies show a positive correlation between physical exercise and greater attention span. Even a single work out can increase your ability to shift and focus attention for at least two hours says neuroscientist Dr. Wendy Suzuki in her Ted Talk.
4. For better mental clarity, take time to do nothing.
Over the past few years, the simple habit of spending time doing nothing with solitude and silence for company has helped me gain a tremendous amount of clarity and self-awareness that I never had before.
In our society, it’s so normal to surround ourselves with people or constantly keep ourselves busy by jumping from one task to another.
However, taking some time to do nothing, does come with its benefits.
In the silence and solitude, when you don’t have any agendas, you can think with so much more clarity.
It’s also important to realize that our brains didn’t evolve to function optimally in our highly stimulating modern environments consuming seemingly endless bits of information. And as with any instrument, we need to respect and acknowledge its limits.
By spending time doing nothing, we also give our brain some time to rest and relax, as for most of us our idea of taking breaks usually involves doing something or the other.
5. For better mental clarity, limit your phone and social media usage.
Research has found that spending a large portion of time in a state of fragmented attention, where you are constantly breaking up your attention to get a quick glance on social media can reduce your capacity to concentrate.
Being intentional and purposeful with our phone usage can bring down the time we spend on our devices drastically.
If you have a meaningful activity to replace the time you spend on your phone, it can prove to be far easier to cut down on your screen time, without feeling like you are making a sacrifice.
Prioritise your screen time for what’s important and worth spending your time on.
Ask yourself some tough question and be ready to be brutally honest with yourself when you find yourself reaching for your phone.
- Why am I taking out my phone?
- How will doing this add value to my life?
- Is it urgent? Can it wait for later?
If it’s because you are feeling bored, uncomfortable or as a means of killing time and keeping yourself occupied with something to do, then it’s worth considering coming up with other alternatives.
After all, being bored is not the worst thing that can happen as it can force us to come up with creative ways to occupy our time with activities which can provide us with more value.
Here are some actionable steps you can take to reduce the time you spend on your device:
- Cease from checking your phone as soon as you wake up ( turn off your net as you go to sleep)
- Move your Social media apps from your home screen so that you don’t feel tempted to peek every now and then
- Track your time using an app to see how much time you spend on it
- Take a Social media break
In today’s exponentially changing world, getting distracted is easier than ever before.
However, the good news is that that there are always proactive steps you can take to stay sane and focussed without drowning in the excess information.