RE-FOCUS: YOUR 3-STEP GUIDE
It’s that time of year where you have no doubt lost touch with your focus, or you feel you aren’t as in tune with it as you would like to be. The plan you set out at the start of the year has lost its momentum and you are just taking things day by day. Super productive days are sometimes clouded with distraction and your mind may be consumed with planning wonderous trips rather than focusing on goals (or at least mine is). Being aware of your thought process surrounding this behaviour is the first step to jump-starting your focus.
I’d love to share with you a methodology that I use with my clients in order to get them back on track: First, we solidify our goals, reignite motivation and no surprise - obviously nourish with food accordingly.
Step 1: Solidify your Goals
I truly believe that in order to feel happy, we must feel like we are growing in some area of our life. That’s why when we feel like we’ve slowed down, we get in a ‘rut’ which can be frustrating to say the least. In order to grow, a goal (or goals) is always something to strive towards. These can be goals you want to achieve in a month, 6 months or in a few years.
There is no point however in having goals with no blueprint of how to achieve them – a plan must be put in place. Your plan will obviously differ depending on your goal. If it's work related, you may aim to put in a few more hours in the evening. If it's food related you may want to prep your lunches. If it's to transform your body, you may want to schedule a few more classes.
Whatever those goals may be, the key is to read them daily in order to cement them in the mind and align your behaviour to meet them. It’s ever so easy to lose sight of these goals if we aren’t continuously reminding ourselves of them… Put them on your phone notes, calendar reminder, or Trello pad (if you haven’t downloaded Trello to organise your life I highly recommend it!). Solidifying your goals is as easy as 1, 2 ,3…
Create a plan of how to achieve it/them
Step 2: Reignite your Motivation
Whenever I see clients in clinic, I use a technique called Motivational Interviewing. This is extremely useful to change one's behaviour because it stimulates personal motivators that will enhance the likelihood of real behavioural change. To put it simply, behaviour change is triggered and enhanced by motivation. If you need to refocus on your goals, this one’s for you! Identifying what motivates you is key to staying focused, whether that's in your personal or working life.
Choose the goal for which you want to uncover the motivations Some goals may overlap but it’s best to focus on one goal at a time in order to maintain the motivation.
Create a grid with four boxes Write the following at the top of each box: pros of making changes, cons of making changes, pros of not making changes, cons of not making changes. For example a pro of making healthier food choices may be that you have enhanced brain performance that will help with growing your business. A con may be that you won’t be able to eat unlimited guac and chips.
Highlight the ‘pros of making changes’ and ‘cons of not making changes’ list These will no doubt be the longest lists on your grid and should be a reminder of all your motivations for making the changes.
Read through these as often as you do your goals Constant repetition of your motivations will keep you focused!
Step 3: Nourish your brain
Unsurprisingly, what we put into our body has a profound effect on how we perform mentally, affecting focus, mental agility and creativity. I have summarised a few key foods that you should incorporate daily in order to feel switched on!
Oily fish (salmon, mackerel, trout, etc.), walnuts and chia seeds These are all great sources of omega, a polyunsaturated fat essential for brain health. Our bodies cannot produce this and hence it's considered an ‘essential nutrient’ that we must get from food. Omega-3 is especially important for normal brain function, brain development and facilitating communication between brain cells!
Nuts and seeds The various components of nuts and seeds such as the heart-healthy unsaturated fats, protein, vitamins, minerals, fibre, and phytochemicals work together to protect again inflammation and oxidation. Research shows that a handful of mixed nuts a day can prevent cognitive decline and diseases of the brain. Almonds and flaxseeds seem to get all the glory, but the truth is, different seeds and nuts contain a variety of different nutrients.
Avocados and olive oil Both olive oil and this wonderous fruit on every brunch menu are extremely high in the heart healthy mono-unsaturated fat we know to have huge health benefits, including enhancing heart and brain health. Recent studies have made an association with high blood levels of mono-unsaturated fat and superior general intelligence.
Water No surprise here but hydration is extremely important for brain health, as well as the normal functioning of every organ and cell in your body! Studies show that when people are mildly dehydrated, they suffer from cognitive decline similar to that of when someone is over the alcohol driving limit.
Whole grains These complex carbohydrates come in many forms (quinoa, brown rice, bulgur wheat, brown bread, etc.) and apart from being great sources of fibre, they are fantastic foods for your brain! When digested, they are converted into glucose which is the many fuel for your brain. Whole grains are found in the diets of the healthiest populations in the world; aim to have one portion at each meal to fuel your brain for increased productivity and concentration.
Lion's mane mushroom These elixirs contain bioactive substances that have beneficial effects on the body, especially the brain! They stimulate growth of new brain cells. Many people (including myself) have switched out their daily coffee for a cup of this. Research has found that lion’s mane may protect against dementia, reduce mild symptoms of anxiety and depression, and help repair nerve damage. That said, more research is needed in the area.
This short list of foods to add to your shopping basket will no doubt help you on your journey to refocus. I truly believe that we must start to nourish within before we manifest anything great in our lives.
It's important to note that your overall dietary pattern must also mirror your lifestyle goals. There is no point in adding these brain foods to a day-to-day of unbalanced junk food. You will no doubt feel like you are lacking in energy and craving true nourishment. Another side note: the more you move, the more your brain grooves. (No, really!) Studies show the more movement one has, the more productive and creative our brains are… so head to the park on your lunch break, opt for a ‘walking meeting’ with co-workers (a favourite at Google), or get a few more workout classes in – your brain will love you for it!
Rachel is the founder of The DNA Dietitian. She often helps clients at her Harley Street Clinic or via online video call to enhance mental performance through food and lifestyle. Get to know her more in her ICBRKR Extraordinaires interview, and quote ICBRKR for 15% off your first consultation!
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