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10 Super Foods that Will Sharpen Your Focus and Memory

10 Super Foods that Will Sharpen Your Focus and Memory

Womans Hands Holding Roasted Coffee Beans

    Have you ever tried to focus on something so hard that it hurt? You may have tried a series of different strategies such as deactivating your Facebook account, turning off the computer, or even ear-plugs, to no avail. The truth is that even though it may seem that many of the factors hindering our focus and memory are external, many of them are actually more internal than we may think… literally! The next time you’re feeling sluggish, hazy and lethargic, think about the last meal you had, because believe it or not, what you put into your body has a direct affect in what you’re mentally able to achieve! The foods we eat have a direct impact on the blood (and oxygen) to our brains, as well as our energy levels and how quickly that energy is depleted. Because of this, our diet choices affect not only our energy levels but also how long we’re able to stay focused, as well as how our memory works. It’s important to understand that even though it may seem like it, you’re not helpless in your battle with your mind to concentrate and focus. You control your body by what you put into it! Even though many of us don’t usually associate delicious meals with healthy foods, the following list of the top 10 brain-boosting foods will show you that this does not have to be the case. Each food is accompanied by mouthwatering recipes that are as healthy as they are delicious!

    1. Blueberries

    Blueberries are one of the healthiest berries. They are not only an absolute joy to eat but are also antioxidant-packed foods with high levels of vitamins C and K, as well as essential minerals such as potassium.  The high gallic acid levels in blueberries also means that they are particularly helpful at protecting our brain cells from the negative effects of stress and anxiety, aiding the communication between neurons and improving our cognitive functions. Suggested Dishes: Blueberries can be used in a variety of both sweet and savoury dishes, from blueberry tarts with walnut crusts to chicken blueberry pasta salad

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    2. Avocados

    Don’t be put of by the high fat content in avocados – they contain monosaturated fats, which are actually good for you! High levels of vitamins C, K and B, as well as folate, mean that avocados can help you prevent blood clots in your brain by improving the flow of oxygen to it – thereby increasing your concentration span! Suggested Dishes: While most of us associate avocados with guacamole and various salads, avocados are actually incredibly diverse fruits! Broaden your taste bud horizons and give these healthy avocado fries a try. Or, if you’re feeling less experimental, this recipe for fried egg and avocado toast can be a great way to start the morning!

    3. Fatty Fish

    Trout, mackerel, tuna, and especially salmon, are the most popular fatty fish out there. Filled with DHA (Docosahexaenoic Acids) and omega-3 fatty acids, it is no wonder that these fish are recommended to anyone wishing to improve their memory, brain power, and concentration. Suggested Dishes: Try out this trout-in-a-pouch with fresh herbs and garlic recipe. If you’re more of a salmon kind of person, this salmon and arugula salad is absolutely fantastic!

    4. Flax Seeds

    These seeds are the best source of ALA (Alpha-Linolenic Acid), which is a healthy fat that works wonders for your cerebral cortex, keeping it healthy and fully functional. The function of the cerebral cortex is to process sensory information (sight, taste, touch, etc.), so it is an integral part of your being able to properly focus on, and understand, information. Flax seeds also contain zinc, which is a mineral that is great for sharpening your memory. Suggested Dishes: Flax seeds have a relatively subtle taste and can be added to almost any dish, such as these healthy breakfast bars, or these cranberry-nut mini loaves.

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    5. Nuts

    Almonds and walnuts in particular are especially great for helping you sharpen your memory and focus. They are high in ALA, antioxidants, as well as vitamins B6 and E, which keep the nervous system fully functional and shield brain cells from potential damage that could lead to poor focus, memory and concentration. Suggested Dishes: Whether you’re more into desserts or savoury snacks, nuts are versatile enough to be used in a variety of dishes to suit different preferences. Try out this almond orange crusted chicken and this walnut and sultana bread.

    6. Beets

    Beets contain natural nitrates that open up the blood vessels in your body, and in doing so they improve the flow of blood (and oxygen) to your brain – needless to say, this will significantly improve your mental performance and memory. They are also full of antioxidants that help reduce the toxins in your blood! Suggested Dishes: While many of us may have childhood memories involving unpleasant meals with beetroot, when cooked the right way, they can add an incredibly unique taste to many different meals. Beetroot brownies and this amazing raw beetroot salad  can be great ways to introduce beetroot into your diet!

    7. Coconut Oil

    Coconut oil is rich in MCTs (medium chain triglycerides) which have been associated with improved memory and concentration, and have been shown in clinical trials to improve memory in older, memory-impaired adults. This oil is also full of anti-inflammatory agents that also work to improve your cognitive functionality. Suggested Dishes: These seeded coconut oil crackers are incredibly quick and easy to make, and so is this delicious coconut-maple granola!

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    8. Turmeric

    Curcumin is the special agent found in turmeric that makes this spice surprisingly healthy! Turmeric is full of anti-inflammatory agents that help to boost antioxidant activity in our bodies, and improve the oxygen flow to our brains, leaving us alert and focused, and our memory capacity significantly improved! Suggested Dishes: This healthy turmeric tea will help prepare you for productive hours of work, as will this scrumptious turmeric omelette.

    9. Rosemary

    Rosemary is full of carnosic acid; this helps to protect the brain from various negative factors that are linked to Alzheimer’s disease. Rosemary also helps to slow down the natural processes through which our brains age, helping us stay focused on even the most complicated of tasks! Suggested Dishes: These rosemary chicken sandwiches and rosemary roasted almonds are quick to make and are great packed-lunch options!

    10. Dark Chocolate

    Dark chocolate is full of nutrients and minerals such as iron, magnesium, zinc and potassium. As well as being a great source of antioxidants, it also improves the blood flow to your brain, boosting your concentration and keeping you alert! Remember, this applies to dark chocolate, and not to most of the highly processed milk chocolate bars we are oh-so-familiar with! Suggested Dishes: If you’re not a fan of eating plain dark chocolate, you can use it as the main ingredient to several mouthwatering, yet guilt-free dishes, such as these dark chocolate pistachio apricots and this chocolate-salted caramel tart! We often make calculated life decisions about many aspects of our lives, so why not about our diets that are so crucial to our everyday productivity and mental functions? Make your diet choices a part of the strategic path to achieving your goals in life and marvel at the instant results!

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    Featured photo credit: Ed Gregory via stokpic.com

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    Kirstin O´Donovan

    Certified Life and Productivity Coach, Founder and CEO of TopResultsCoaching

    How to Be More Productive: 4 Tiny Tweaks to Make 18 Best Time Management Apps and Tools (2020 Updated) How To Break the Procrastination Cycle Why To-Do Lists Don’t Work (And How to Change That) How To Control Your Emotions Effectively

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    Last Updated on July 10, 2020

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    How to Take Control of Your Life with Better Boundaries

    We all have them—those hurtful, frustrating, offensive, manipulative people in our lives. No matter how hard we try to surround ourselves with positive and kind people, there will always be those who will disrespect, insult, berate, and misuse you if we allow them to.

    We may, for a variety of reasons, not be able to avoid them, but we can determine how we interact with them and how we allow them to interact with us.

    So, how to take control of your life and stop being pushed around?

    Learning to set clear firm boundaries with the people in our lives at work and in our personal lives is the best way to protect ourselves from the negative effects of this kind of behavior.

    What Boundaries Are (And What They’re Not)

    Boundaries are limits

    —they are not threats or ultimatums. Boundaries inform or teach. They are not a form of punishment.

    Boundaries are firm lines—determined by you—which cannot be crossed by those around you. They are guidelines for how you will allow others to treat you and what kind of behaviors you will expect.

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    Healthy personal boundaries help protect you from physical or emotional pain. You may also need to set firm boundaries at work to ensure you and your time are not disrespected. Don’t allow others to take advantage of your kindness and generosity.

    Clear boundaries communicate to others that you demand respect and consideration—that you are willing to stand up for yourself and that you will not be a doormat for anyone. They are a “no trespassing” sign that makes it very clear when a line has been crossed and that there will be consequences for doing so.

    Boundaries are not set with the intention of changing other people. They may change how people interact with you, but they are more about enforcing your needs than attempting to change the general behavior and attitude of others.

    How to Establish Boundaries and Take Control of Your Life

    Here are some ways that you can establish boundaries and take control of your life.

    1. Self-Awareness Comes First

    Before you can establish boundaries with others, you first need to understand what your needs are.

    You are entitled to respect. You have the right to protect yourself from inappropriate or offensive behavior. Setting boundaries is a way of honoring your needs.

    To set appropriate boundaries, you need to be clear about what healthy behaviors look like—what healthy relationships look like.

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    You first have to become more aware of your feelings and honest with yourself about your expectations and what you feel is appropriate behavior:

    • Where do you need to establish better boundaries?
    • When do you feel disrespected?
    • When do you feel violated, frustrated, or angered by the behavior of others?
    • In what situations do you feel you are being mistreated or taken advantage of?
    • When do you want to be alone?
    • How much space do you need?

    You need to honor your own needs and boundaries before you can expect others to honor them. This allows you to take control of your life.

    2. Clear Communication Is Essential

    Inform others clearly and directly what your expectations are. It is essential to have clear communication if you want others to respect your boundaries. Explain in an honest and respectful tone what you find offensive or unacceptable.

    Many people simply aren’t aware that they are behaving inappropriately. They may never have been taught proper manners or consideration for others.

    3. Be Specific but Don’t Blame

    Taking a blaming or punishing attitude automatically puts people on the defensive. People will not listen when they feel attacked. It’s part of human nature.

    That said, you do not need to overexplain or defend yourself. Boundaries are not open to compromise.

    Sample language:

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    • “You may not…yell or raise your voice to me…”
    • “I need…to be treated with respect…”
    • “It’s not okay when…you take things from my desk without asking…”
    • “I won’t…do your work…cover for you anymore…”
    • “It’s not acceptable when…you ridicule or insult me…”
    • “I am uncomfortable when…you use offensive language”
    • “I will no longer be able to…lend you money…”

    Being able to communicate these without sounding accusatory is essential if you want others to respect your boundaries so you can take control of your life.

    4. Consequences Are Often Necessary

    Determine what the appropriate consequences will be when boundaries are crossed. If it’s appropriate, be clear about those consequences upfront when communicating those boundaries to others.

    Follow through. People won’t respect your boundaries if you don’t enforce them.

    Standing our ground and forcing consequences doesn’t come easily to us. We want to be nice. We want people to like us, but we shouldn’t have to trade our self-respect to gain friends or to achieve success.

    We may be tempted to let minor disrespect slide to avoid conflict, but as the familiar saying goes, “if you give people an inch, they’ll take a mile.”

    It’s much easier to address offensive or inappropriate behavior now than to wait until that behavior has gotten completely out of hand.

    It’s also important to remember that positive reinforcement is even more powerful than negative consequences. When people do alter the way they treat you, acknowledge it. Let people know that you notice and appreciate their efforts.

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    Final Thoughts

    Respect is always a valid reason for setting a boundary. Don’t defend yourself or your needs. Boundaries are often necessary to protect your time, your space, and your feelings. And these are essential if you want to take control of your life.

    Start with the easiest boundaries first. Setting boundaries is a skill that needs to be practiced. Enlist support from others if necessary. Inform people immediately when they have crossed the line.

    Don’t wait. Communicate politely and directly. Be clear about the consequences and follow them through.

    The better you become at setting your own boundaries, the better you become at recognizing and respecting the boundaries of others.

    Remember that establishing boundaries is your right. You are entitled to respect. You can’t control how other people behave, but you do have control over the way you allow people to treat you.

    Learning to set boundaries is not always easy, but with time, it will become more comfortable. You may eventually find that boundaries become automatic and you no longer need to consciously set them.

    They will simply become a natural extension of your self-respect.

    Featured photo credit: Thomas Kelley via unsplash.com

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