When we get overly stressed, anxious, and overwhelmed, we’re not functioning at our best.
And as a result, day-to-day responsibilities feel more challenging to accomplish, and many of us have trouble thinking clearly and start to experience brain fog.
Brain fog describes a mental haziness or lack of clarity.
When experiencing it, you may have difficulty with:
- Putting thoughts together
- Focusing and concentrating
- Maintaining energy levels
- Motivation, you may feel uninterested in things you usually enjoy
Think of it this way: If the brain is a computer, continuous stress and anxiety are the programs running in the background.
They use up tons of memory and space, making everything else run slower.
If your brain fog is anxiety and stress-related, it can only intensify some of these feelings.
Over time, they may also cause physical discomfort and symptoms, like an upset stomach, chronic fatigue, and general uneasiness.
The good news is, you can implement a few healthy habits and routines to your schedule to improve your cognitive performance.
One of the best ways to start is by practicing the 5:5 rule.
Here’s how it works:
- Break your day up into five-time frames dedicated to deep work.
- Then, take a 5-minute brain break in between each of those time frames.
What’s a brain break?
As strange as it may sound, taking regular breaks throughout the day requires a bit of planning and discipline.
In fact, the reason we often power through the day without a break is simple-there isn’t anything interesting enough or worthwhile during break time.
So, we end up working 4-5 hours straight and suffer the consequences later on.
Brain breaks are intended to help us shift focus.
When planning out your brain breaks for the day, consider activities that require little to no cognitive effort.
Or better yet, activities that help you be in the here and now.
Here are a few things you can do to make the most out of your brain break:
- Listen to a guided meditation. Whether you already have a meditation app or choose to look up a youtube video, there are plenty of guided meditations available that work to relieve any muscle tension, overwhelm, and anxiety and take your mind off the work you were doing. And, it’s pretty straightforward. Depending on which meditation you choose, all you need to do is sit back and listen to the instructions.
- Step outside. You don’t need to go on a walk to reap the benefits nature has to offer. Studies have shown that even a few minutes outdoors can shift your perspective and press the reset button in your mind. Remember to take a few deep breaths while you’re out there. You’ll come back feeling rejuvenated, focused, and ready to tackle any work obligations with new energy.
- Stretch. Sitting in one position for hours on end undoubtedly creates mental and physical tension. During your five-minute break, try to get up and out of your seat. Touch your toes, slowly roll your neck, and stretch your arms up into the air. Notice any tension in your muscles and enjoy the flexibility return once you sit back down.
- Listen to music. If you’re not a fan of meditation, create a playlist with your favorite genre of music. Typically, classical or calming music is suggested, but there’s nothing wrong with a classic rock playlist if that’s what you’re into! Immerse yourself in the song, and get up to move with it. Just a few minutes of dancing can get your blood moving and refresh your mood.
The bottom line
Regardless of the type of break you choose, these simple activities can clear your mind and prepare you for the next upcoming task in your day.
Experiment with a few and do your best to stick to a time frame that works.
And remember, if five minutes is not enough, increase it to better suit your needs.
As long as you consciously take breaks between focused work sessions, you can reset your brain and improve your mental clarity every day.