Be honest. This year has taken our motherhood skills to the next level. It’s required us to need more focus and clearer minds for solid decision making more than we can ever remember. We may have turned to more coffee and caffeine to keep us charged, but there are better ways to perk up without the caffeine!
I don’t know about you, but this year seems to have hit me like a ton of bricks.
Sure, things ‘slowed down’ and the world ‘quit’ for a little bit…but for many of us, it really didn’t.
It just changed, pretty dramatically, and required our brains to focus on things in totally different ways.
Maybe you’ve always been an essential worker, and you didn’t have a ton of time to do puzzles or binge Tiger King. Maybe you have three kids under four in your house, and with nowhere to go and nothing to do with them, you had to figure out how to be Mary Poppins.
Maybe you were lucky enough to keep your job because it could be done remotely, but as the world took a massive pivot toward doing everything digitally, you found you’re actually even busier than ever–six conversations at one time on 4 different tablets/phones/computers.
Maybe you just continued to be in SAHM mode, but now you’ve had to figure out how to reimagine your children’s childhood. The time and opportunity has been nice, but the clarity and focus needed to do so is a bit lacking.
Whatever this year’s been like for you–being able to focus on it, think clearly about it and have the energy for it has been key.
Because the better our ability to have those things? The better our quality of life. Too often, we seek to have that energy and focus by taking in our cup (carafes) of coffee in the morning, our mid-morning cup and then some sort of caffeinated drink during the day. Caffeine is just a temporary fix in what seems to be more and more a permanent state of mind for many of us–exhausting days where we are simply overwhelmed by the obligation of technology while at the same time, being thankful for all it affords and using it to our advantage.
These things take their tolls, though, and we may find our daytime exhaustion fueled by caffeine or ‘energy’ drinks just leads to poor sleep. Which means we don’t get restoration and guess what? Our next day is a rinse, repeat cycle.
So how do we stop the “Must.Have.Coffe.” mentality and move to cleaner, healthier energy and focus? Check some of these ideas out.
Filter Your Filters
First and foremost, even though we live in a digital world more than we EVER did before, we need to filter and really monitor our device usage. Yes, yes…Zoom and Google meets and Facetime are great for connection since we can’t see our friends and family as much, but we’re talking about that constant feeling of ‘must respond’ to every ding, beep and tweet. Our digital devices are daily competing for every bit of our mental focus, and while most of it can even be great, we have to continually look for our “Best Yes” when it comes to focus.
Constantly attending to whatever digital issue is at hand actually makes us forget more. Think about it–if you didn’t have your phone, could you give a complete stranger 5 phone numbers of your most important family or friends? When we continuously take in great quantities of information without giving our minds time to actually commit anything from working memory to long-term? We lose it. Our inability to filter and focus on what we need is so inundated that our attention and our focus actually gets worse. Use technology as needed, but when not? Try some of these instead:
- Play games! Yes, it’s true. Playing games that make your brain focus is an easy (and fun) way to keep your brain more alert and mentally sharp. It can even help boost your memory, which never hurts since it seems like becoming a mom stole it! Every day, consider doing a memory game or short puzzle; a crossword puzzle or word quiz. Consider soduko or even just brain teasers with your kiddos–they’ll love the routine and you’ll be sharpening two (or more) brains at once!
- Utilize mindfulness techniques. That’s right–train your brain to SLOW DOWN and TAKE THINGS IN. We particularly LOVE the 5-4-3-2-1 Method of breathing and mind work in our house–it’s a great way give your kids some strong coping skills for dealing with stress too.
- Give yourself some downtime. Listen, we can live without digital obligations assaulting us all day long. Consider periods in the day where you are not attached to anything digital. No phone. No email. No tablet. No television. Truly–even in this digital world, unplugging for an hour a day won’t be the end of anything, and it will be a guaranteed time of day you’ll come to count on for restoration and renewal.
- Get busy! In that digital time (and we’re just suggesting start with an hour–more is always better when it comes to less digital distraction!), do something that gets your brain and body moving. Make it a regular routine, even if it is something as simple as a daily walk or jog with the kids. This site has a handful of things that are known to boost brain power, no caffeine needed, and they’re great for keeping the rest of you healthy too. What’s good for the kids is good for us as well, so if you’re feeling groggy? Do a few jumping jacks or planks or even jog in place to get blood flowing.
- Organize. Yes, organize. If we have too many visual distractions because things are not organized? We’re at risk of losing our focus on what’s in front of us. Things out of place remind us we have ‘much’ to do, so clear your desk/kitchen table/coffee table/bedroom up and out so you can focus better on what’s at hand.
- Listen to music. There’s a reason that head-banging music makes us feel like…well, banging our heads. It pumps us up, gets our endorphins raging, and gets us going. If you need a quick brain booster, turn on your favorite dance song and have a quick dance party–the kids will love it too.
Natural Supplements Save The Day
If you need a quick boost, peppermint, spearmint, lemon and orange essential oils will come to the rescue. Just a few deep breaths of these babies and your brain is instantly stimulated.
- Ashwagandha–an Indian Ayurvedic medicinal herb, it’s thought to increase energy by helping your body be more resilient to mental and physical stress. It can help improve your response to stress and anxiety, and lower cortisol levels, which make your body constantly feel like it’s flight or fight time–great in the moment, but then you crash.
- Rhodiola Rosea–an herb found in certain cold and mountainous regions. It’s an adaptogen, which helps your body cope with stress and mental fatigue. It can enhance brain function and improve depression, which is commonly linked to fatigue.
- CoQ10–stands for coenzyme Q10. Your body naturally makes CoQ10, and it’s a nutrient your body’s cells NEED to produce energy. As we age, we lose levels of CoQ10, so supplementation can help your body’s cells produce the energy they need.
- Vitamin B12–helps your body absorb nutrition from the foods you eat and turn it into energy your body can use. Many women suffer from anemia, without even knowing it, and B12 boosts can enrich your blood cells and give you more energy and focus. B12 is found in meat, fish and dairy products, as well as many fortified foods–but be careful of those because they can also be enriched foods (meaning there’s additional folic acid that may not be good for your body. Look into folate, not folic).
Water, Water and More Water
Want to know the secret that just about any nutritionist/dietician/neuroscientist will tell you is the key to better energy and focus? Hydration.
That’s right–for most of us, it’s the easiest thing in the world–just stay hydrated! You can make a huge difference in your brain by drinking water–doing so increases the blood flow and oxygen to your brain and that improves your memory and your energy. It can help reduce stress and headache, and essentially make you feel like a superwoman.
Just try it–drink more water. Significantly more water (unless you’re already drinking enough what you should, and then well done!) and do so without having your coffee or caffeine boost for the day.
See if Mother Earth doesn’t have your back every time!
Image: Vlad Teodor/Shutterstock