written by Austin Eames
photo by Sage Thomas
As the summer festival season peaks, combating the mental sluggishness is a battle we all face. The following tips will not only keep your brain from going blurry, but they will also improve your overall alertness, quality of experience, sleep and memories while raging through the rest of the summer.
1. Morning Meditation
Meditating, albeit a tough practice to get used to, can literally work wonders. As little as five minutes or up to 30 minutes of sitting or lying down, focusing on long smooth breaths in through the nose and out the mouth, is great for giving your brain a rest and getting in touch with your body. Studies have shown that regular practice of meditation can be equivalent to sleep by a factor of 4x. This means that meditating for 30 minutes can catch you up on two hours of sleep. Don’t expect to replace your sleep with meditation when first starting off, but with practice you will gradually feel relief from lack of/poor sleep through meditation. Overstimulated minds and poor sleep is a major cause of a foggy head space.
Just 10 minutes of yoga or stretching can make a big difference for your overall energy levels. While more festivals are incorporating yoga into their schedules, it is still up to you to make it to class. Participating in yoga classes or doing your own yoga poses will support your lymph system in detoxification, as the squeezing and releasing motions assist the body in flushing toxins, making you feel blissfully limber.
3. Sleep Mask
Use a sleep mask to block out external light while sleeping or meditating. Studies have shown that by utilizing a sleep mask, your brain can more quickly get into REM cycles, thus giving your brain and body the deep relaxation it needs. This can dramatically improves quality of sleep and leave you feeling more rested and less stressed; I found this sleep mask to be especially effective.
4. Cannabidiol (CBD oil from hemp)
I can and will write an entire blog post (or posts!) about this substance in the near future…thankfully legalized cannabis medicine is now available in all 50 states, and many countries around the world. In the US, the substance is legal as long as it is derived from hemp and contains under the legal limits of THC (in most states 0.3% TCH). CBD has an almost magical effect on healing the body and brain, and may be the single most important medicine of the 21st century. CBD is non-psychoactive, meaning it will not get you “high” like THC, but it is very relaxing and can boost serotonin to deliver a “natural high” of sorts. I highly advise doing your own research; a simple google search for “cannabidiol effects and uses” or simply “CBD” will yield thousands of articles written about the effectiveness of this substance.
Specifically in regards to combating brain blur, CBD has an alerting effect under 50 milligrams, and sedating effect above this level (may vary slightly per user). There is not a known toxic upper limit dosage of CBD, but you’ll certainly experience the sedative effects between 50 and 200 milligrams. I recommend taking small doses of CBD in the morning to clarify and awaken the mind, and a larger dose in the evening to help you drift off into deep sleep. IrieCBD provides top notch CBD products and takes great care of their customers. A few of my favorite products include their Calm Tincture and vaporizers. Vaporizing IrieCBD’s glycerin based vape juice is a healthy alternative to the toxic practice of smoking cigarettes or nicotine.
5. Whole Food multi-vitamin
By supporting your daily intake with a multi-vitamin, your body will feel less depleted the morning after dancing, walking and standing all day/night. While some festival food vendors provide quality wholesome nutrition, many often leave you with less than a full array of vitamins and minerals (i.e. cheeseburger and fries). On top of this, the use of substances can dramatically deplete the body of the necessary nutrients required for normal functioning of the organs. This is especially true in regards to nutrients needed for thorough detoxification. I recommend taking a Whole Food based multi-vitamin, which is far easier to absorb than synthetic vitamins or mineral tablets.
The following tips will concentrate on “superfoods” that can enhance the levels of certain vitamins and minerals. But remember, multi-vitamins and a handful of superfoods make for a winning combination.
6. Chia seeds
The Aztecs called this runners food, because they would go on long runs with little but a sack of chia seeds to keep them hydrated and maintain protein levels. Soak chia seeds and drink them in the morning for a tremendous boost to mental clarity. The positive effects of chia seeds are due in part to the high mineral content and their ability to increase overall hydration. Chia is comparatively cheap and has virtually no taste, unless purchased pre soaked in a juice or Kombucha. Drink up on chia for the ample energy reserves it provides.
Chlorella and spirulina tablets have become one of the most popular superfoods, even used by NHL players, UFC fighters and hollywood actors. These foods have been used for thousands of years as a lean, vegan protein; Mayan civilizations used them for some of their main sources of nourishment. Not only do these superfood algaes provide high levels of vitamins, proteins, and minerals, but they both contain antioxidants and chlorophyll, which help to gently detoxify the body. Getting rid of toxins in the blood stream is a key factor in keeping the mind clear, and protecting our brain cells so that we can remember the great times we’ve had. Ideally, purchase from companies like Rawfoodworld.com, who have strict quality control measures in place. I like these chlorella and spirulina tablets in particular because they combine these two amazing algaes into one easy tablet.
8. Bee products
Organic raw honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly are all great for saturating your body with B vitamins, amino acids and minerals. Raw honey is especially great in the evening as it provides the brain the necessary nutrients to heal during sleep by raising melatonin levels naturally. It’s also a nice way to pick up your energy levels quick as it has enough natural sugar to give your brain a boost.
Bee pollen is jam packed with B vitamins, vitamin C and amino acids (protein), to give your body support during the long hauls from stage to stage.
Royal jelly, though expensive, is one of the most awakening and healing substances that you can add to your superfood tool kit. It also contains high levels of B vitamins and 10-HDA, a known cancer preventative. Be sure to keep it in your cooler to preserve freshness and potency. An even stronger form of this substance is the powdered extract form of royal jelly.
Coconut oil is a great substance to take along with you for so many reasons. To name a few, consuming 1-2 tablespoons daily of coconut oil will amp up your overall energy, endurance, metabolism and mental clarity. The brain LOVES coconut oil, especially the medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs) contained within. A product that has become popular in recent years is MCT oil, or pure MCTs extracted from the coconut oil. This liquid substance is not only highly energizing, but has been shown to cause nerve growth factor (NGF), also known as spontaneous creation of new brain cells. One of my favorite uses of coconut MCT oil that will surely put away brain fog once and for all is bulletproof coffee. Other uses of coconut oil include sexual lubrication, tanning oil with mild SPF, and a safer/leaner cooking oil.
10. Raw chocolate
Chocolate is a tremendous energy and mood booster, especially high quality chocolate kept raw and/or made with low-glycemic sweeteners such as honey, maple or stevia. Raw cacao powder has been hot in the fitness and health realm as cacao has been shown to improve heart functioning and mental capacity. Either bring along some of my favorite raw chocolate bars from Sacred Chocolate, or bring cacao powder or nibs to add to your morning coffee or smoothies. Cacao has the highest magnesium levels of any food, and also contains lots of heart stimulant theobromine.
If you aren’t already naturally high as a kite from applying the previous tips shared in this article, reishi mushroom extracts will surely top you off. This substance has been revered for thousands of years, used by Chinese emperors, and considered one of the top 10 chinese medicines. Reishi has the ability to detoxify the body far better than a juice cleanse, to leave you feeling relaxed and clear. Most people who consume reishi find that it is profoundly stabilizing to the spirits, and aids particularly in calming and clarifying our thoughts and intentions. Reishi is also my #1 recommendation for knocking out the common cold or flu, and has even been reported to be effective against most kinds of cancer. Reishi extract, like cacao powder, can also be added to your coffee or morning smoothie. I prefer extract powders mixed in with drinks, however other forms such as tinctures and capsules are available online. There are many Reishi products out there, but my favorite is Epic Reishi from longevitypower.com which includes reishi fruit body extract and reishi spore powder. If you’re looking for other extremely potent forms of reishi to try out, I recommend Reishi Spore oil or Reishi Triterpene Crystal powder.