Mental clarity is the ability to think clearly and process information quickly. When you have excellent mental clarity, you can better focus on the task at hand and get things done. Mental clarity and strength are crucial for accomplishing goals, solving problems, and making decisions.
Mental clarity is important because it can help you:
- Be more productive at work and home
- Make better decisions
- Develop positive habits and break negative ones
- Improve your relationships
- Reduce stress and anxiety
Now, let’s look at some ways to improve your own mental clarity.
Eat a Diet that Supports Brain Health
Your brain uses about 20% of the daily calories you consume. Just like your body, it needs good nutrition to perform at peak capacity. A nutrient-dense diet promotes good mental clarity and energy levels. To keep your brain running efficiently, ensure that it gets the right nutrients through your diet every day. Here are some foods that can help:
Blueberries — These berries are packed with antioxidants that can promote memory retention and reduce inflammation in the brain, which is linked to cognitive decline and diseases like Alzheimer’s.
Oily fish — Fish such as salmon, mackerel, and trout are all high in Omega-3 fatty acids, which protect against age-related deterioration of the brain’s thinking skills. A bonus is these oils also have anti-inflammatory properties, which may help lower your risk of developing depression.
(A special note about omega-3s: Studies suggest they may help improve memory and thinking skills. Omega-3 fatty acids are essential for brain health, but the body doesn’t produce them naturally. You must get them through diet by consuming foods rich in omega-3s, such as fatty fish, nuts, and seeds. If you can’t get enough omega-3s from food, consider taking an omega-3 supplement daily to support your cognitive function (and heart health). Talk to your healthcare provider first.)
Nuts — Walnuts have been shown to improve cognitive function because they’re rich in omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E — both of which boost brain power over time by slowing down cognitive decline (memory loss).
Also, eliminate ultra-processed foods, sugar, and refined carbohydrates. They cause blood glucose swings that cause brain fog, fatigue, and erosion of mental clarity.
Focus More on Mental Health
For mental clarity, you need to be in a good place mentally and have effective ways to manage stress. There are a variety of ways to manage stress, but meditation can be another powerful tool for boosting mental clarity. A meditation session gives you the chance to step away from distractions that hinder focus — even if it’s just for five minutes at a time. Getting started with meditation is easy, too. Countless free resources are available online, or you can download an app that walks you through the process step by step.
Drink Water Throughout the Day
Your brain is about 75% water. Any drop in hydration levels can have an impact on mood, energy levels, and mental clarity. When you’re properly hydrated, there’s ample fluid for blood flow, and your brain functions better.
The best way to prevent the effects of dehydration is to drink up! How much water should you drink each day? Most experts recommend eight 8-ounce glasses, which equals about 2 liters, or half a gallon. This is called the 8×8 rule and is easy to remember.
You may need to modify this general guideline depending on your health status, diet, exercise routine, and climate. For example, people who live in warm climates or exercise vigorously may need more than 8×8. On the other hand, if you eat a lot of hydrating foods, such as cucumbers and watermelon, you may get by with less. Note the color of your urine. If it’s darker than light yellow, you’re not hydrating enough.
Identify Your Distractions
Distractions reduce mental clarity. The first step to clear your mind is to work out what’s distracting in the first place. Sit down and make a list of all the things that pull your attention away from what you’re trying to achieve and how often they occur.
Distractions are of two types:
External distractions are things that grab your attention from outside yourself, like notifications, emails, and other people interrupting you.
This type of distraction is more complicated because the sources are often hard to identify. Internal distractions come from within you, including procrastination, anxiety, lack of focus, or even discomfort (hunger, fatigue, etc.).
How much time are internal and external distractions costing you? What impact do they have on your ability to get things done?
Now, look at the list of distractions you’ve just created, and think about which ones have the greatest impact on how productive you are throughout the day. Think about ways to reduce or eliminate those distractions.
Get More Natural Light During the Day
Natural light helps properly set your internal biological clock. In turn, this helps improve brain function and mental clarity. One way to get more natural light is to take an outdoor walk early in the day. Regular exercise boosts mental performance, including memory, concentration, and creative thinking abilities. It also releases endorphins — the chemicals in our brains that help us feel happier and more relaxed — thereby combating stress levels that can impair mental performance.
Consider natural lighting for your home and office, too. One study found that workers who worked under natural light were more productive and had more energy than those who worked under artificial lighting. Replace your light bulbs with full-spectrum, natural bulbs. Another option is to throw the curtains or blinds open while you work.
While multitasking seems like an efficient way to get things done, studies show the opposite is true. Research reveals that people make more mistakes when they try to do two things simultaneously than when they focus. One study found that multitasking increases the time it takes to complete tasks and reduces creativity. Devote your energy to one task at a time.
Sleep is essential for physical health, but it’s also needed to perform well mentally. It’s during sleep that your brain processes information from the day and consolidates memories. A lack of sleep can have a negative impact on your productivity, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Make sleep a priority, and aim for at least seven hours each night. Staying up late to be more productive will reduce your mental clarity the next day.
The Bottom Line
Being mentally sharp and having clarity doesn’t just improve your ability to perform complicated, creative tasks. It also helps you stay on top of daily chores, from remembering important dates and appointments to completing household errands. As you can see from the suggestions above, there are plenty of ways to boost your mental clarity naturally.
- “Multitasking Effects on Individual Performance: An Experimental Eye-Tracking Study” by Malgorzata Marchewka, Janusz Nesterak, Mariusz Sołtysik, Wojciech Szymla and Magdalena Wojnarowska, 2020, European Research Studies Journal.
- “Natural Light and Mental Health – Resources To Recover.” 26 July 2018, rtor.org/2018/07/26/how-light-improves-mental-health/.
- “Shining Light on What Natural Light Does For Your Body ….” 24 March 2014, sustainability.ncsu.edu/blog/changeyourstate/benefits-of-natural-light/.
- “Beneficial Effects of Walnuts on Cognition and Brain Health” by Abha Chauhan and Ved Chauhan, 20 February 2020, Nutrients.