It’s all too easy to get caught up in the day-to-day pace, doing whatever it takes to fast forward to the weekend. Commonly throughout the week, we make small sacrifices that impact our performance in both professional and personal activities. You may find your mind drifting in anxious thoughts, day-dreaming of another hour of sleep or staring at a task thinking “What was I just doing?”. These small symptoms are considered normal if infrequent but if an inability to maintain focus is a common theme throughout the week, you’ll want to work these great practices into routine.
Establish a Sleep Routine
A good night’s sleep is the foundation to having a motivated mindset for the following day. We’re all guilty of burning the midnight oil, watching one more episode, or reading a few more pages once in a while, but habitually stealing from your mind and body’s recovery time will negatively impact your focus.
These sleep sacrifices disrupt our brain from functioning properly throughout the day. Our brain depends on this dedicated time to rejuvenate and relax neurons before becoming overworked. Missing valuable sleep can lead to extended drowsiness, slower reaction times and inability to focus.
Following a proper bedtime routine tends to be one of the easier practices to keep your mind sharp. Limiting exposure to screens at bedtime is crucial as they keep our brains engaged instead of slowing down for the initial stages of the sleep cycle. A wakeup routine is also key to the start of a great day. Don’t fall into the trap of excessively hitting the snooze button. While this seems naturally appropriate in the morning, it’s actually repeatedly confusing your brain during the wake-up stage and can leave you drowsier than getting out of bed on the first or second alarm.
Eat 3 Fulfilling Meals Every Day
Our mind and bodies depend on a regular intake of nutrients starting every morning. It’s not uncommon to just grab a cup of coffee when heading out for the day or skipping lunch to save a few dollars.
Missing these regular meals neglects our caloric equation for proper physical and mental function. The average recommended calories per day is 2500 for men and 2000 for women, and the easiest way to fulfill this need is by eating three standard sized meals each day with snacks in between. Skipping meals habitually leads to calorie deficit and malnourishment, leaving your brain lacking key nutrients needed for daily focus. According to a recent study by MDPI, irregular meal timing creates a noticeable impact on our mental health and directly correlates with higher levels of stress.
The easiest routine to help maintain regular healthy meal intake is by meal planning. Simply set aside a small amount of time each week with a notepad or meal planning app on your smartphone and brainstorm a variety of healthy meals you enjoy with the needed ingredients listed. After selecting meals for the week, create an organized list of the ingredients to save yourself some stress at the grocery store.
Maintain a Self Care Regimen
As simple as it may sound, prioritizing your own self care time plays a big part in relieving stress and ultimately restoring focus. Passing weeks without setting aside time for personal hobbies can lead to symptoms of different mental health concerns. It’s important to make self care a priority to help keep your mental and physical health at its best.
One of the best ways to feel fulfilled with “me time” is by enjoying a creative hobby. Learning new creative skills such as painting, woodworking, crafting, etc., are all effective methods to relieve stress and produce a product to feel prideful about. Find what days regularly work for you and plan at least an hour to do what matters to you!
Control Your Wallet
One major stress factor we can all relate to is money. A large portion of our life is spent working the years away to afford our daily necessities. As more families live paycheck to paycheck, controlling monetary stress with a budget is important to maintaining daily focus.
Finding the balance between necessities, personal purchases and saving can be very difficult. Creating a budget sheet is crucial to understanding where your money is being spent and how it should be spent. A common budget structure is the 50/30/20 method, 50% of monthly income for necessities, 30% for personal wants and 20% for savings. Be sure to set aside enough time each week to update your budget sheet with updated transactions and income.
Even an expert in personal finance finds themselves in a pinch after a car breakdown, emergency home repair, unexpected medical bills, etc. In these cases, it’s wise to utilize a personal loan with low interest to ensure your monthly budget does not snowball into a stressful deficit. Using a personal loan in these unfortunate situations is actually more sensible than charging a credit card. This will establish a set-in-stone timeline around that debt, instead of compiling more interest fees with a credit card.
There will be days where everything has been planned and organized but our thoughts are still scattered. Mindfulness–the practice of the state of being conscious or aware–can play a big role in keeping ourselves focused and capable of handling stressful situations.
Checking in on ourselves, our friends, and our family is a nutrient we all need. Asking yourself, “How am I doing?” and “What are my goals?” can help identify what areas could use attention. Having honest conversations with people you are close with is always beneficial to get an outside perspective on a stressful situation.
Control the controllables. It is important to understand which situations you can control the outcome of, and identify problems you cannot influence to prevent emotional distress. Diet, sleep and impulse purchasing are all factors that can be influenced to ensure an improved wellbeing.
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