To operate at your mental peak, you need to make sure you’re developing good habits and feeding your brain the best fuel. You think around 60,000 thoughts per day, and negative thoughts can be stifling and can take you in a downward spiral. So how would improving focus, clarity, concentration, memory, and mood change your life? Most men are facing unprecedented demands on their attention. This level of distraction can compromise the quality of life and even productivity. For example:
- Multitasking leads to a 40% drop in productivity
- The average worker checks their email 74 times a day
- Text messaging users send or receive an average of 41.5 messages per day
Mental flow is the opposite of mental stagnation. In a stagnant mental state, you feel stuck…the right word doesn’t come to mind, the solution to a problem eludes you, and you can’t remember the answer to a question. In mental flow, words flow, solutions show up, and answers come with ease. Below are 5 quick and effective hacks for moving your mind into a positive state of flow in which your thoughts and ideas empower you to succeed with business, relationships, fitness and vitality, and overall happiness and well-being. Your goal is to make habits out of each of these brain hacks.
1) Start Moving
Mental flow is jump-started by the physical flow. Your brain is a vital part of all the systems in your body. So, when you start moving, you’ll notice that thoughts flow better as well. The scientific journal Ecopsychology found in a recent study that walking outside seemed to promote mental health, and “appear[ed] to mitigate the effects of stressful life events or perceived stress and negative affect while synergizing with physical activity to improve positive affect and mental well-being.”
Four experiments in The Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition found that “walking boosts creative ideation in real-time and shortly after.” Similarly, running, stretching, body-weight exercise, weight-training, climbing, swimming and dancing have similar effects, especially when done outside in nature.
2) Be Mindful
According to a Perspectives on Psychological Science study reported in the Huffington Post, the benefits of mindfulness can be boiled down to four elements: body awareness, self-awareness, regulation of attention, and regulation of emotion. Mindfulness has also been proven to lower stress (stress literally shrinks the brain), helps us get to know our true selves, makes us better people, and more.
There are many ways to practice mindfulness, but the key element is being fully present with the current moment and fully embracing the current moment; observing, allowing, and embracing the sounds, sites, feelings, thoughts, and sensations that are there. Mindful writing is also a way to move your mind into the flow. There are a few different techniques that work.
1) Free Writing
Simply write whatever comes to mind without judging it. Just write and if nothing is coming to mind, write “nothing is coming to mind, but……” and keep writing.
2) Getting It Out
If there is a situation going on in your life in which you need clarity, start writing about it. As you start to get it all out, separate yourself from the situation and move into observer-mode while kickstarting mental flow.
3) Feeling Writing
This is a technique when you feel emotionally unclear. Simply write out what you’re feeling. As you do this, you move into observer mode, and you start to gain clarity about what you’re feeling and why.
4) List the Positives
If you are in a negative mood, it is very helpful to write about the positive things that you have in your life or about a certain situation that you’re in. For example, if you lose your job, write about the positive aspects of that situation. It might look like this: “I know I can find a job that works better for me anyway…I’ve been wanting a different job anyway, and now is my opportunity to move forward.”
5) Start a Conversation
When you’re feeling mentally stuck or blocked, call a friend and ask him to help you get your thoughts flowing in a positive direction again. It’s important to have the right intention with this conversation, and that you call someone who is positive-minded.
Make sure you focus positively on the solution for whatever situation you’re in! You should be feeling better and better as the conversation goes on, and if you’re not, then you should end the conversation.
3) Eat & Drink Right
First, the fundamentals…
Make sure you are well hydrated because your brain needs water. Make sure the water you are drinking is clean, filtered, and mineralized. Adding minerals will structure the water, which makes it easier for your body to absorb.
If the water you drink is devoid of minerals, you run the risk of pulling minerals out of your cells. The best water is spring water. Or, you can buy a good filter and add in minerals.
Your brain can use two things for energy: glucose or certain fats. In this area, I primarily follow Mark Sisson’s research on the blog Mark’s Daily Apple. He found that 100-150g (max) carbohydrates per day are healthy.
And they should be high-quality carbs, from veggies—spinach, broccoli, kale, carrots, sweet potatoes, etc.—fruits—bananas, berries, etc. Coconuts and honey are also high-quality forms of carbohydrates.
Fats are a very important source of energy for the body and brain. Probably the best fats for your brain are avocados (and avocado oil), olives (and olive oil), and coconuts (and coconut oil).
Many nuts are also great but should be eaten in lower amounts. The primary nuts that are great for the body and brain are almonds, pecans, brazil nuts, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pistachios, walnuts, and cashews. Fish is also high in omega-3 fatty acids, which are great for the brain, and shown to ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and ADHD. Wild-caught salmon is one of the best fish to eat.
Protein is very important for your brain too because it uses some amino acids to build neurotransmitters. Some of the best sources of protein are hemp seeds, eggs, nuts, and if you eat meat, grass-fed, free-range, and wild-caught meats and fish.
4) Build Up Your Neurotransmitters
Your brain uses specific key nutrients to create neurotransmitters, which are compounds that enable your brain to perform all the functions you think of when you think of the brain— thinking, feeling, calculating numbers, recalling and storing memories, brainstorming, moving your limbs, and involuntary actions, such as heartbeat and digestion.
Arguably the most important neurotransmitters are acetylcholine and dopamine. Acetylcholine is used in the central nervous system to promote cognition, memory, and arousal. In the peripheral nervous system, it is a major neurotransmitter for the autonomic nervous system (automatic movements such as heartbeat and breathing while asleep), and the somatic nervous system (muscle contracts and movements).
Symptoms of depleted acetylcholine levels include:
- Lapses in memory
- Calculation difficulties (numbers)
- Impaired creativity
- Impaired judgment
- Loss of verbal and visual memory
- Limited awareness of self
- Slow mental responsiveness
Benefits of Balanced Acetylcholine Levels:
- Sharp memory
- Ability to focus
- Ability to calculate numbers
- Flowing creativity
- Keen awareness of self
Primary Nutrients that Improve Acetylcholine Levels:
- Alpha-GPC is the most bioavailable “choline” compound
- Acetyl-L-Carnitine (amino acid) is an “acetylated” amino acid that also supports energy production Acid (Vitamin B5) is the cofactor needed to convert the other building blocks into acetylcholine
Dopamine is important in both the peripheral and central nervous systems. In the peripheral nervous system, it helps regulate heart rate and blood pressure. In the central nervous system, it promotes emotional responses such as reward and pleasure.
It also is involved in modulating motor (body movement) and personality activities. Dopamine has numerous functions in the brain related to motor coordination, cognition, motivation and reward, attention, learning, and mood. Dopamine is one of the primary components of the pleasure system of the brain and promotes feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement to motivate performance.
Symptoms of Depleted Dopamine Levels:
- Attention Deficit Disorder
- Learning disorders
- Chemical additions
- Social Anxiety
- Distracted easily
- Low libido
- Feeling unrested even after lots of sleep
- Inability to handle stress
- Self-destructive thoughts
Benefits of Balanced Dopamine Levels:
- Good mood
- Sharp mental focus
- More enjoyment and pleasure
- Ability to concentrate and learn
Primary Nutrients that Improve Dopamine Levels:
- L-Tyrosine (amino acid) is a precursor to dopamine.
- Vitamin B6 is a cofactor that helps convert L-tyrosine into dopamine.
- Blueberry Extract is a rich source of anthocyanin antioxidants, which are proven effective in protecting dopamine-rich neurons.
So, what is the best way to get the nutrients that produce acetylcholine and dopamine? Liquids absorb quicker and better than pills, so finding all of these nutrients in one liquid product is best.
BrainJuice is a 2.5 oz. a shot that gets absorbed by the body faster and more easily than regular supplements. Compared to pills, which may take days or weeks to feel the effects, BrainJuice works within minutes helping to boost focus, clarity, memory, and mood.
Contrast that with energy shots, which are basically jolts of caffeine and synthetic vitamins, and pill brain supplements, which take a long time to work. BrainJuice solves the problem of lack of focus and motivation.
BrainJuice combines everything the brain needs with green tea, powerful antioxidants, omega-3s (acai berry), organic coconut nectar, vitamin B12, vitamin C, and l-theanine.
Make Brain Health the Cornerstone of Overall Well-being
Combining 2, 3, 4, or even all 5 of these simple hacks can drastically improve the quality of your life. With better brain health, you could be more productive and focused at work; come up with ideas for a book or a business; have better conversations with friends or romantic interests; and it can even help you have more bliss, joy, and happiness in your life.
Sam Elick is the Founder and Chief Product Officer for BrainJuice.
Sam earned his BS in Public Relations from the University of Texas and his MBA in Entrepreneurship from Acton School of Business. With the help of a biochemist, he started BrainJuice in his living room in 2011, to solve the problems he experienced with lack of focus. His goal was to provide a healthy way to increase focus, clarity, memory, and a good mood. Sam is a co-founder of Good Society and on the board of Serenity Kids organic baby food.