Kharissa Parker is a news producer, writer, certified health coach, and columnist for Startland News. For more of her self-care tips on how to keep your cup full, visit kparker.co.
Editor’s note: This commentary on mental clarity continues Parker-Forte’s series on the 7 Pillars of Self-Care, following spiritual alignment and emotional intelligence.
Sometimes you might have a hard time putting your feelings into words. When resolving conflicts or just speaking up at work, clearly expressing yourself can be the most critical factor — even more so than just being right.
Where does mental clarity fit in?
Given that we live in an era plagued by anxiety, depression, and a host of mental health disorders, mental clarity is one of the most significant of the seven pillars and it works in tandem with emotional intelligence. If the pillars we’ve studied so far were a family tree, spiritual alignment would be the mother. Emotional intelligence and mental clarity would be twins with emotional intelligence being the oldest by just a minute or two.
Falling behind spiritual alignment and emotional intelligence, the third pillar of self-care is mental clarity. According to BetterUp, an organization that helps businesses bring well-being to the workplace, mental clarity is defined as the ability to “recognize, understand, and organize your thoughts.”
To be fair, difficulty explaining how you feel isn’t necessarily a lack of mental clarity so much as it is awareness of the opportunity to think before you speak.
You’re probably asking yourself, “If that’s the case, how is mental clarity different from practicing emotional intelligence?” The key difference is that emotional intelligence is the pause. It’s that millisecond break in the conversation, disagreement, or project when you’re mindful of your energy and choose whether to respond or to react. (If you’re lost, catch up here.) On the other hand, mental clarity — as defined earlier — is when you can recognize, understand, and organize your thoughts.
That said, mental clarity isn’t always predicated upon demonstrating emotional intelligence. I’ve seen a few people pop off and react in situations with some pretty well-thought-out arguments. Was I that person a time or two in the past? Maybe. But, that’s beside the point. We live and we learn, am I right?
Other signs that you need to take time to cultivate mental clarity include:
- Unhealthy stress levels
- Anxiety or nervousness
- Inability to focus or be productive
As a result of having mental clarity, you not only reduce your risk of the aforementioned dangers but you also empower yourself to choose a career path that’s in alignment with your true goals and desires, set healthy work-life boundaries (because balance is a myth), and ultimately prevent burnout.
How to cultivate mental clarity
The ability to think clearly comes by catering to your brain health. Simply getting things out of your head by journaling, talk therapy, or writing out that to-do list instead of storing it in the back of your mind is helpful.
Another strategy is to consume brain boosting foods and supplements. According to Mindbodygreen, this can include limiting dairy, gluten, and processed foods that can cause inflammation which leads to brain fog and inhibits mental clarity. Taking vitamin B12 can be helpful, as well. They also say that intermittent fasting has been shown to help with brain health.
Lastly, give your brain a break. Take a nap. Cease all work — and that includes both in and out of the office. Carving out moments of nothing-ness can kill some of that overstimulation that keeps your mind running all the time.
Fueled by her expertise as a news producer, writer, and certified health coach, Kharissa Parker is passionate about helping entrepreneurs in Kansas City achieve their goals without sacrificing self-care. Check out her brand, The KP Method, and connect with her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
This commentary is possible thanks to support from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, a private, nonpartisan foundation that works together with communities in education and entrepreneurship to create uncommon solutions and empower people to shape their futures and be successful.