Unwanted noise and activity in our brain can make us feel anxious or depressed, and unable to concentrate. Just as clutter in our homes can affect our mood and outlook, clutter in our minds can do the same thing. So, we can associate the process of achieving mental clarity as a form of spring-cleaning for the mind and senses.
In searching for mental clarity, we are looking for the presence, focus and inner calm that allow us to be our best, most receptive and rational selves. Having a clear mind can help us become more productive and feel calm and at peace.
Here are a few activities you could try to improve your mental clarity.
RUNNING OR OTHER AEROBIC EXERCISE
Running improves the flow and pressure of blood in the whole body. This includes the brain. The neurons in our brain act as sensors for retrieving and sending information to and from the rest of our body.
It was previously believed that the brain could create no more neurons by adulthood, but studies have shown that vigorous exercise can lead to the creation of new neurons. Exercise is the only known source of these additional neurons. During aerobic exercise, the hippocampus is highly active, which is the part of the brain that is integral to our ability to learn and remember.
Breathing exercises and techniques can influence one’s mental and physical state. By consciously varying the rate and depth of our breath over sustained periods of time, we can bring on a meditative state, similar to the state that occurs during yoga.
Breathwork has been shown to reduce stress while improving focus and can be practiced at home or in a guided class. It can also serve as aid to better sleep, which contributes to a clear and calm mind in the morning.
MEDITATION OR YOGA
Meditation has been used for thousands of years to improve focus and allow one to be present in the moment. There are different kinds of meditation, but one that concentrates on mindfulness is the most suitable for achieving mental clarity.
Yoga combines deliberate breathing exercises called pranayama with physical movements. Its goal is not just about perfecting a position, but feeling and seeing through our bodies. The intense concentration and proper breathing can prevent the mind from wandering and worrying, and bring it into the here and now.
See also: Top 5 Meditation Tips
WALKING IN THE FOREST OR NATURE PARK
As Friedrich Nietzsche once said, “All truly great thoughts are conceived while walking,” and he was right. It is a great activity for inducing clear thinking.
A 2017 study found evidence of a direct link between the physical act of walking and blood flow to the brain. If you can walk in a natural rather than an urban environment, the benefits could be greater still.
The emerging field of ecotherapy has shown that people who take long walks in nature, also known as Shinrin Yoku aka “Forest Bathing”, have reduced activity in the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain that focuses on negative emotions.
See also: Shamanism Gets a 21st Century Makeover
CRAFTS AND HOBBIES
Hobbies we already enjoy can induce clarity of mind as well. Repetitive actions such as knitting, drawing or gardening can have positive effects on our mental state. Many of the best hobbies for clearing our heads allow us to focus on something without requiring too much mental taxation.
Low-level concentration over long periods of time doing something we enjoy sharpens our minds and brings us totally into the present. While achieving mental clarity, we are also exercising our creativity and may be beautifying our homes or creating a thoughtful gift.
There are many ways to get the same benefits. It’s whatever works for you. The important thing is practicing them regularly or knowing that you can access them when you need to.
See also: How to Balance Your Chakras