By Trace Reddick, MBA
Some say, “I’m just tired,” or “I’m having an off day,” because it’s easier than sharing what’s really going on.
Are you frequently forgetting things? Is your thought process slowing down to a crawl and becoming labored? Do you catch yourself zoning out? Are you having trouble listening during important phone calls? Brain fog makes us unfocused and turns everyday tasks into a struggle.
The power of the entrepreneurial mind is a force to be reckoned with, but like anything else, it needs maintenance to work properly. If it feels like your brain is working against you and presenting brain fog, we have some simple solutions to get your mind back on track.
1. Take a Walk
Exercise benefits the brain by increasing blood flow. It also generates chemicals that aid cognition and boosts mood.
A walk in the sunshine increases serotonin and gives your eyes a break from harsh office fluorescent lights. Taking time to exercise also takes you away from the desk in order to give your brain a break.
For some, a walk may not be enough and a more rigorous activity like aerobics or lifting weights is better for proactive maintenance. At any rate, exercise has many wellness benefits and should be part of any stress management plan.
2. Take a Break
You may be thinking, “What? I have too many things to do! I can’t stop now.” If productivity is in the tank, can you really afford not to?
Meditation helps reset the brain. For guided meditation, there are tracks on YouTube, MP3 downloads, or apps. But for some of us, technology is a culprit for overstimulation, so learning how to meditate without electronics is better. Taking a class or practicing methods from books will eliminate dependence on these devices.
Alternatively, power naps are another way to rest the mind. Experts recommend 10-20 minutes of napping to boost alertness and cognitive function.
In addition to resting the mind, stepping away (from the computer, the paperwork, the phone, etc.) is a chance to clear your brain’s cache and come back to your tasks with a better performing brain.
It can be difficult to pull yourself away from your responsibilities for a break, but the benefits promise to give you the endurance to go the distance.
3. Take a Supplement
Stop by most wellness-oriented retailers and you will likely find an entire section for brain function.
For example, MCT oil (medium-chain triglycerides) gives you the health benefits of popular coconut oil but it works faster and eliminates unhealthy additives (like fats and sugar). Pure oils are constructed of longer chains and thus take longer to process. Using MCT oil gives the brain a boost.
Aromatherapy is another product that is typically oil-based that can give the brain a lite reboot. Fragrances like lemon, rosemary, frankincense, peppermint, etc. are common choices for stimulating the mind. There may be another fragrance that works better for you, so find a resource that will let you try different smells. Have a diffuser at your desk or apply it to your skin. If products work, then bring them to work as your focus helpers.
4. Take in More Fluids & Healthy Foods
Many Americans turn to coffee and energy drinks for that much-needed perk, however, this can work against you if wind up dehydrated. Dehydration contributes to many health problems including mental performance, so be sure to get plenty of water.
Some who are dependent on stimulants like caffeine may experience an energy slump in the afternoon. Too much caffeine can also deprive you of restorative sleep which is also important for brain function.
Poor diet slows down mental performance. If your body is deprived of vitamins, minerals, good proteins, etc. this will decrease energy and function. To fix this, cut back on sugars, starches, and processed foods. A good nutrition plan includes lean protein, plenty of vegetables, some fruits, some nuts, and whole grains.
To improve your output, change your input by consuming healthy foods and reducing the intake of unhealthy ones.
5. Take an Inventory of Priorities
It ’s widely accepted that to be productive is to always be busy. Being a business owner can often mean longer hours, and putting out all the fires that come along with more responsibility.
It’s as though we are Atlas with the weight of the world on our shoulders. Always plugging away and always available to customers, employees, etc. This gets to be too much sometimes. It creates stress and this takes a huge toll on mental function.
You don’t have to be Atlas. Delegate. If someone else can handle it, let them. Sometimes we fall into the trap of thinking we can do it all or we should do it all. It doesn’t have to be that way.
Know your limits. Are you overcommitted? Things like serving on a board, volunteering, and mentorship all sound like worthwhile activities, but being on top of things means not being under a pile. Manage your stress by making cuts where you can.
Also, trade multi-tasking for mindfulness. Limiting yourself to one thing at a time may be easier to implement than you think. Try it!
The demands upon the modern entrepreneur are substantial, but allowing yourself to be run into the ground greatly reduces your effectiveness and performance.
It’s the cycle of poor health adding to stress and stressors causing poor decisions like consuming junk food.
The more responsibility riding on you, the more incentive there is to take care of your greatest asset: your mind. Optimize your performance with self-care.