A lot of us find that our ability to focus seems to be decreasing. Some of that we can attribute to the current pandemic. If you weren’t already working from home, it used to be a place to relax…an escape from the office. Now, home has become the office, the classroom, the library, the gym, and even the doctor’s office. One common suggestion has been to set up the environment to one that matches the role that it plays, which is helpful, but sometimes you just feel like you need an extra boost.
BETTER BRAIN FUNCTION = BETTER FOCUS
While there are supplements and medications that are marketed for improving brain function, and they can be beneficial, there are three crucial areas we need to look at to boost the function of that noggin.
This may seem like a no brainer tip, but most of us need to admit that we don’t prioritize sleep enough, which leaves us feeling like no-brainers. We know sleep is super important for both adults and kids.
Sleep affects your alertness and cognitive function. Cognition encases our ability to think, problem solve, judgement, learning, and memory. Insufficient sleep affects all these processes, hence, the brain fog you may experience throughout the day or complaints about your child’s attention span or mood in class.
How do you fix it?
Have a set bedtime for you and your kids. The National Sleep Foundation recommends varying hours depending on age.
No electronics in bed. Screen time just before or even after falling asleep has been proven to reduce sleep quality. This not only goes for kids but adults too, setting that example will make the difference.
Stress management is critical to good cognitive function. Stress can cause loss of interest, difficulty concentrating, forgetfulness, mental fog/ block. How we manage stress can even affect how our brains age.
Exercise is great for dealing with stress, endorphins, popularly known as the ‘Happy Hormone’ increases as we exercise. Extracurricular activities may be at a halt for some kids and teens, but a family walk, bike ride, or even a mini dance party can help boost those feel good hormones and help reduce stress.
Deep breathing is another great technique that can be taught to both adults and kids. Kids can be taught how to inhale and exhale for five seconds each, when they feel restless or angry. Parents can also practice these breathing techniques when anxious and stressed.
Nutrition plays an integral part of our brains’ development even before birth. For continued brain health, scientists have come up with the MIND Diet (Mediterranean Dash Intervention for Neurodegenerative Delay). This diet is like the birth child of the Mediterranean diet and the DASH diet (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension). The MIND diet like the name suggests focuses specifically on brain health.
One study shows that nutrients reflected in this diet slows cognitive decline, lowers risk of Alzheimer disease, and decreases oxidative stress and inflammation. The diet is rich in vitamin E, omega 3 fatty acid (including DHA), and B vitamins such as folate, vitamin C & D that have proved to help neurons cope with aging.
Green leafy vegetables
Fried and fast foods