Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
October 31, 2021
Reading Time: 9 minutes

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

“What is mental clarity?” you may be wondering.

Mental clarity is the ability to concentrate and direct your mental focus toward something in your environment. It’s how we stay focused on tasks and how we learn new things, make good decisions, and perform well across a wide variety of situations.

Are you looking for ways to improve your mental clarity? If so, read on! 

In this blog post, I will discuss 25 steps that could help you improve mental clarity when you need a boost, no matter how busy or distracted you are feeling.

From combating social media addiction to developing hobbies that require concentration and focus. These tips can help anyone achieve peace of mind by improving their overall cognitive health!

What does mental clarity mean? 

The ability to concentrate on something in your environment is critical for learning new things. Achieving goals, and performing well across a wide variety of situations is important to everyone. 

The ability to direct your mental focus is how we keep our attention on the tasks. We learn new things, make good decisions, and perform well across a wide variety of situations. 

Having trouble focusing can be extremely frustrating- not to mention how it can affect your self-esteem.

25 Steps on How to Achieve Mental Clarity and Focus

When you are constantly surrounded by distractions, how do you stay on task? 

Staying focused can be difficult in today’s always-connected world where diversions are a click away. 

Even during quiet moments, being distracted is literally at your fingertips. You find yourself checking social media or the latest news updates. 

Assess Your Mental Focus

Before you can achieve mental clarity, it’s important to assess how focused or distracted your mind is. Check-in regularly with yourself about how you are doing that day.

If you notice you are distracted, remove yourself from the situation and get back on the horse. Take not on how you got distracted, after how much time, and what triggered you. 

Eliminate Distractions

Once you’ve determined how much impact distractions are having on your concentration, the next task is to eliminate them.

This could be anything from uninstalling unnecessary apps or setting up notifications. These pop-ups only distract you from your work.

If possible, turn off all alerts and set aside designated periods for using social media or checking the news or your emails.

If you have a television in your workspace, be sure to turn it off when you are working. Another way to curb distractions is using headphones.

Limit Your Focus to One Thing at a Time

It’s important to limit how much attention you give different tasks so that your mind isn’t being stretched too thin. This doesn’t only apply to doing tasks but also to thinking about tasks and being preoccupied.

Dividing our attention while doing tasks with a high mental load, can make it so nothing gets done. This isn’t productive to reach your goal and can lower your self-esteem.

Write down tasks with priority and don’t divert from the list. A planner can also help to see how many hours you should spend on each task, it can help you focus on just the one chosen task.

Live in the Moment

Although it’s impossible to be in the moment 100% of the time, this is how you want to strive for when completing any task. 

Instead of thinking about how much mental effort a project will take, try focusing on the present moment and completing the first step. Get the ball rolling.

Worrying can be a great way to push you towards your goal, however, when it becomes constant it can paralyze you and your mental clarity.

You don’t have all the control in the world, what you do have control over is what to do next. Focus on what you can do right now, not on what already happened or what is to come. 

Practice Mindfulness

It’s common to feel overwhelmed by the mental effort required for multiple tasks. Practicing how your mindfulness can help you stay in the moment.

For example, if you’re going for a walk outside, try paying attention to how each leaf on the ground feels. Pay attention to the smell of the air, touch the leaves with attention.

Another exercise could be breathing deeply, and closing your eyes. Notice three things you hear, two things you feel, and one thing you smell.

Mindfulness exercises are made to help you flexibly focus your attention.

Take Short Breaks

If how long you’ve been focusing on something feels like it takes forever, take some short breaks.

The exact length of time for breaks will vary depending on how much mental effort something is taking. Try to step away from what you are doing at least once every hour so your mind has an opportunity to rest. 

If the task takes longer than expected, it might be like driving a car without fuel. Refuel your “car” by taking a break.

Keep Practicing

The amount of mental effort a task is taking will vary depending on the situation. With enough practice you can learn exactly how much mental clarity it costs to accomplish most tasks. 

You can learn what is the most effective way to do this task, what you can automatize, or what you should do first as not to waste any time.

Further, the more you practice a task, the better you will become and the less mental effort it will demand. Imagine learning how to play guitar.

When learning, everyone starts with how to do the notes. Just like a musical piece, you can break down a task as well in pieces. By repeating you learn more.

Go for a Walk

If you find yourself working on a task and getting distracted for no reason, get up from your chair. Do something else such as taking a walk outside or going to the bathroom. So that when you return, it’s easier to refocus how much mental effort is required for what you’re doing.  

Stepping away from your desk or changing your environment can help you get back on track. 

Drink Lemon Water in the Morning

A common cause of brain fog is dehydration. Drinking some water or lemon water in the morning is a great way to start your day on the right path. Hydrating can support mental clarity. 

Further, lemons are a great source of vitamin C and it is tasty. It can surely freshen up a boring drink and could freshen up your breath as well.

Plan Your Day the Night Before

Those who fail to plan, plan to fail. Ivy Lee proposed a tactic of productivity many years ago to Charles Schwab from the Bethlehem Steel Corporation.

The method or tactic included planning 5 or 6 things the night before. This method was a great success, the success was so great that it is still used today to plan for productivity.

Choosing 5 tasks the night before prevents wasting time and mental clarity during the day to make those decisions. All that mental clarity can be used to really be productive.

Look at the Big Picture

When artists first learn a musical piece, there is a lot of attention needed. The artists need to divide their attention between many tasks (like rhythm, finger positions, and melody). 

One of the first things the experts in the field do, imagine an artistic image of the piece. They looked at the bigger picture, they imagined where they wanted to go.

It made them make decisions about the next steps, like how to place their fingers or how loud or soft to play.

Preparation helped the expert achieve their goal more quickly. We can all learn from this is how to keep enough mental clarity to focus on what is important.

Be Clear About Your Outcomes

Make the outcomes clear. When we focus on the end goal, it gives a clear path on how to achieve that. Not only will there be more mental clarity left to focus on the steps to take – there will be left more space for you to actually undertake these actions. 

Another advantage of focusing on the outcome or the goal is that it keeps you going. The tasks you need to undertake might feel lighter by knowing it is a part of something bigger. 

Identify What is Important to You

Identifying what is important can help you motivate yourself when things feel hard. You might find that if your end goal isn’t making sense or not particularly motivating.

Try thinking about the more specific details of how reaching this goal will impact your life and why you would want to.

Be Aware of the 5 Key Self-Care Areas

Chronic stress is a risk factor for brain fog. It has a negative effect on mental focus and on our mental state. To clear up the brain fog and the stress, it is recommended to take care of yourself.

Selfcare could increase mental clarity and our mental well-being. The five key self-care areas are physical, emotional, psychological, spiritual, and professional self-care. 

Focusing on these areas could increase mental clarity and mental health. Consistent check-ins with your self-care could improve how well the mind works and how easily attention can be focused. 

Be Careful What You Allow Through the Gates of Your Mind

You are the gatekeeper of your own concentration. You can choose to refocus on what is important and what your goals are. Take note of when you are distracted and how much time it takes you to finish a task so you can plan accordingly. 

Have a Healthy Morning Routine

A good morning routine starts in the evening by getting in enough sleep. Feeling tired or low on energy has a negative impact on your mental clarity. Starting your day healthy can have a positive impact on the rest of your day. 

Unplug from Distractions

Distractions take mental load away from your main task. Unplug from distractions either by using earplugs or putting away social media. Remove the pop-ups from your phone and uninstall the apps that are taking away your time.

Journal

Journaling has long been considered an easy way to collect data. This is the same thing for psychological or cognitive data.

Writing consistently in a journal in any way you see fit, can be an outlet for you. Research on journaling is ongoing and we are not sure of all the benefits.

We can, however, tell that writing about a stressful event with a focus on cognitive and emotional processing can be helpful for some.

Further, you can use these entries to reflect later on. That might be the reason why researchers say that it can have a positive effect on self-growth, self-efficacy, and how much you feel in control. 

In short, journaling can bring you new insights and the feeling of more control over your situation. You can change your life and focus if you want to.

Get Rid of the Toxic People in Your Life

Toxic people can sometimes act like parasites, sucking away all the energy that you would rather spend on bettering yourself.

If someone does not want to support you or makes your life more difficult on purpose, maybe evaluate if there is still room for that. 

The company you are keeping can either uplift you or pull you down. If you feel a consistent pull, then maybe you should cut the cord (or at least have a very serious conversation about this with this person).

Do the Cat or Cow Pose

Yoga or physical movement is shown to have a positive impact on our stress levels. Doctors recommend regular physical movement as well. So why not try to incorporate some yoga into your routine?

Some yoga practices don’t only include cat and cow poses, but also include mindfulness exercises. So you will be working on two of these tips at the same time.

Get Your Inflammation Levels Tested

High inflammation can be a sign of stress in the body. And as said before, brain fog is the opposite of mental clarity.

Getting your inflammation levels tested can clear up what the cause is of your lack of mental clarity. That means you can treat it as well, you will improve your concentration in no time.

Get Some Sleep Support

The FDA recommends 7-8 hours of sleep per day. If you aren’t getting this consistently, it is time to do something about that.

There are easy habits to support you with that, like waking up and going to sleep at the same time daily. Other interventions could be avoiding caffeine and electronic devices before sleeping.

If these changes don’t improve your sleep, you should consult a doctor that could take a look at the cause (f.e. sleep apnea).

Try Intermittent Fasting

Intermittent fasting is becoming more and more popular as a way to manage weight and health. Researchers in 2013 also found that it might support brain function and structure in mice.

These mice learned faster and showed better memory than the control group (and the high-fat diet). This cognitive effect is not found in healthy men, while some do show effects for those with severe chronic diseases.

Try Rosemary Essential Oil

Very small doses of rosemary (750mg) could possibly show a positive impact on the speed of memory with older adults. That dose is similar to a dose you would use in a recipe.

Consuming more than that dose has a negative effect on the speed of memory. Researchers believe that this effect might be explained more by a heightened mood than to be caused directly by intaking the dosage.

This might be correct as another study shows a positive effect of smell on mood. However, the rosemary oil showed impairment in the speed of memory in this study.

However, it also showed an enhancement in the quality performance of memory. There are more studies to be done, what we can conclude is that it can boost the mood and possibly have a positive effect if used in very small doses.

Show Your Gut Some Love

Research has shown a direct connection between your physical health and brain health, specifically the gut. This relationship seems like a two-way street.

Bacterial infections can have a negative effect on learning and memory. An easy way to support your gut could be to use probiotics. Consuming these products could possibly support your brain health too.

Concluding Thoughts

There are many different ways you can improve your mental clarity. I hope that this blog post helped or inspired you to work on one of these tips, if not all of them. I hope this article brought you interesting insights on how lifestyle changes can support the human brain.

If you have questions about where your brain fog might be coming from, discover more from our plethora of informative resources about mental health.

If you have any other questions, leave us a comment below. If after a little practice there is not enough increase in mental clarity, ask for professional medical advice from your doctor.

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