Maintaining Focus And Mental Acuity As We Endure Stress And Changes With Age.

08 Apr , 2021

As we age and as stress increases our focus, concentration, effective cognition can all fade.

A wandering mind, constantly feeling distracted, being pulled off track are  sensations that have become all too common for many of us. Especially as we have rolled through 2020. 

There are many reasons for this. Modern life is complicated. We have families and friends that pull on us and have expectations. Socially we have an innate human desire to stay in contact. Let's not forget work pressures as well. In addition, text messages, phone calls, social media alerts, immerses us in a variety of interruptions and stimulations.  

We are asking a lot of our nervous systems, we need be ready to connect and receive information at any moment. This chronic and episodic onslaught of stimulation can cause us to lose focus, decrease our mental clarity and bring on a state of brain fog; where we forget what we are doing, become easily distracted or start losing track of things. 

Some solutions do exist in the forms of mindfulness/meditation, taking time out to rest the mind and even exercise, like yoga, can bring about clarity. Several solutions have been proposed in the pharmaceutical world, things like Adderal and Nuvigil have been available for many years and have been used to help bring focus to those with ADHD and help support a fatigued mind. However, side-effects and potential dependence have made these “fixes” problematic.

From the natural world, a long line of herbs and extracts have been used for centuries to deal with some of these complaints. One such remedy includes a class of substances called Adaptogens. 

Adaptogens have been used for centuries to help our bodies maintain a state of balance or homeostasis in the face of multiple and sometimes contradictory demands. Ingredients like Ashwaganda can support our endocrine, immune and nervous system making them more resilient.

Use of these substances come out of the long tradition of “tonics”, which were used to “tonify” our bodies, to promote the optimal expenditure of energy. We want to stay in that well balanced sweet spot, not too tightly wound and not so loose that we are flailing through life. 

If we imagined that our body was a stringed instrument - we want to be in tune, in a space of clarity, where we are resonant and alert but not wired or frazzled; comfortable and engaged in our life and our work.

One of the most powerful things we can do to live in balance is to decide that a balanced life is a priority. Once we make this decision we can be creative in how this shows up in our life. 

What boundary would I like to set first? 

  • Turning off my phone and computer for certain times of the day or even days at a time.
  • Consistently choosing foods that keep my blood sugars in a healthy range and keep me well nourished. 
  • Monitoring and maintaining a healthy blood pressure.  
  • Saying no to requests that are beyond your capacity. 

Is there a ritual or routine that helps me increase productivity?

Please answer the following honestly. 

  • Am I getting quality sleep? 
  • Am I exercising regularly? 
  • Am I drinking too much alcohol or misusing stimulants? 

Using these self-inquiries can help you mold a plan of action that is right for you. 

For many years people have used breath work, yoga, meditation to attain states of clarity.  By using established practices, we can find our own state of being that enhances our ability to focus and maintain a crisp sense of mental acuity.

Finding and being in a flow state can bring great rewards and satisfaction in life. The use of natural substances has helped many people incorporate and explore flows states, some of these items include micro dosing psilocybin mushrooms and taking apoptogenic cocktails. 

By exploring some of these remedies you may find yourself with a more functional ability to concentrate and an improved mental focus.

Ann Barnet, M.D. and Sean Devlin, D.O.

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