What do you do after 6 pm? For some people, that’s the time their day ends, and they get to relax. For others, they have more work to do. Still, others may have commitments of some kind at this time, or perhaps it’s dedicated to spending time with friends and family. Regardless, you need mental clarity. The world, meanwhile, is mostly speeding up for the rush hour as most people head home.
Whatever you use your evening time for, there’s one thing that is almost unanimously true. Few people are as sharp at 6 pm as they were during the day. For those who have some things that they still need to finish or some errands that need doing, the tiredness from the rest of the day can weigh heavily on them.
On the other hand, for those completely free after 6 pm, they may spend their time doing nothing in particular, getting more sluggish as time goes on. While having time off is great, and it’s good to get some rest after a long day, one can’t deny that at least some of that free time may have better ways to be spent.
If your brain is foggy after 6 pm, or if you’re looking to help stay more alert and clear any time of the day, there may be ways to utilize this time. Whether you’re busy or free after 6, there’s sure to be something you can do to help yourself and your brain out. Here are 5 things to do after 6 pm that improve your mental clarity.
If you’re the kind of person with a good chunk of free time after 6 pm, then you may want to learn better ways to use it. This is not to say that you should be busy non-stop and forgo all rest time. Instead, this means that you should learn to fill your time in positive ways for you.
Learning is one of the best ways to keep your brain engaged and help your mind form stronger functions and connections. If you have nothing to do in the evenings, take advantage of some of that free time! After all, building your brainpower through learning can help your cognitive function and clarity. Here are some ways to learn after 6 pm:
Please pick up a book you’ve been interested in and lose yourself in it, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. You’re keeping your mind engaged, and you might even learn a few new things! Just make sure you’re reading for fun and enjoyment, not because you feel like you have to. Just a few pages can be enough to achieve these results!
· Satisfy Your Curiosity
Is there something you’ve been curious about for a while? Use your free time to learn something about it! Whether it’s an obscure topic or just a bit of fact-checking, you now have the time to answer the questions you’ve been wondering about.
· Try A New Hobby
Hobbies are a great way to expand your skillset and build your brainpower for better mental clarity. If you work in a technical field, try something artistic, and vice versa! Work out parts of your brain that don’t usually get exercised!
2. Go Outside
Have you ever noticed that you often feel calmer when you’re outside and have a clearer head? To understand why this happens, we have to think about structural plasticity – that is, the human brain’s ability and desire to rewire and produce neural connections based on its environment. Essentially, being in an environment that is enriching may help your brain function.
Nature is one of the best ways to “enrich” your brain easily and directly. The quiet that nature brings is contrary to the city-slicker life many of us live, allowing for a break from the hustle and bustle that removes the sensory overload. Studies have found that even if you can’t get to full-blown unfiltered nature, you can still benefit from exposure to the environment by:
- Looking up at the sky
- Being around trees and greenery
- Listening to birdsong
3. Try Brain Dumping to Reach a State of Mental Clarity
The brain is like a natural computer of sorts. If you’re even a little tech-savvy, you probably know what RAM, or random-access memory, is in electronics. RAM is a kind of data storage that is taken up when you run software or applications. It’s helpful to think of brains as having a kind of “RAM,” too.
But what does this mean? Basically, your brain has a limited capacity to process multiple tasks and thoughts, often getting slower the more cluttered it gets. Worse still, many so-called processes that take up brian’s RAM lie in background thoughts, mental loads, sensory input, and other subconscious things.
Some activities can help clear up this RAM, like getting good quality sleep or relaxing calming practices. But in a pinch after 6 pm when you’re tired but have more to do, brain dumping is a good way to do it and clear up your mind! Here’s how to do it:
- Step 1: Get a medium to write with. You can use a notepad or word program on your computer, a note app on your phone, or even traditional pen and paper.
- Step 2: Write or type absolutely anything and everything that pops into your head, no matter how mundane or strange it is. Whatever thought crosses your mind, scribble it down quickly. Remember, even thoughts like “I don’t know what to type” are still thoughts you should write out! Don’t overthink, do.
- Step 3: Continue this practice for 5-15 minutes, or longer if you really feel like you have a lot to let out.
- Step 4: As an optional step, if your mental clutter on the page is clearly a little heavy, you can try to think about (and write your thoughts on) why you feel that way or why those words were in your head to begin with.
You’ve probably heard about mindfulness meditation lots of times by now. It’s the act of meditating to ground your thoughts in the present, releasing anxieties, worries, and stressors as you do so. It’s meant to relax you and increase your positive thinking, and most studies have found that it works well.
Mindfulness meditation works wonders for concentration and may allow you to clear your head well and continue performing at an efficient and productive rate, even in the evenings. Here’s how to do it:
· Step 1: Settle Down
Find a relatively quiet location and sit down on a chair or cushion, sitting with your back straight (not stiff). Make sure you feel stable and relax your shoulders. Rest your hands on your legs, keeping your upper arms on the side of your torso.
· Step 2: Relax
Gently lower your chin, allowing your eyes to fall shut if they need to (though make note you do not have to close your eyes to meditate). Keep your body engaged without being too tense or loose.
· Step 3: Breathe and Feel
Take a deep breath and focus on the way your breath naturally fills and empties your body. Follow the rise and fall of your chest, feeling the way air enters your nose or mouth, fills your chest and stomach, then leaves again.
· Step 4: Maintain Focus
Your thoughts may attempt to creep in and call your attention away from your breathing. Notice them, but don’t react – don’t judge them or respond to them – and slowly redirect your attention to your breathing. You may count breaths to focus better.
· Step 5: Finish
Slowly raise your head back upwards, opening your eyes if they have shut. Gently bring yourself back to the present by taking notice of the things around you in your environment, then pay attention to yourself. How are you feeling? What are you thinking? Pause and decide how you will continue your day, then get up and do that!
5. Take A Break
If you’ve ever tried to spend a long time focusing on something, you might notice that your ability to concentrate gets less and less workable as time goes on. Your efficiency and productivity eventually start going downhill as you struggle to make your brain focus. There are several explanations for this:
- Mental resources may be depleted over time
- The brain may naturally ignore repeated and constant forms of stimulation
- You are likely to be bored with the same task as time goes on
Regardless of which of these explanations is the truth, most research concludes that, for the most positive levels of mental focus, you need to take short breaks. Brief pauses from what you’re doing to shift your attention for just a short while may significantly increase your ability to focus. In other words, let yourself take a break, especially if you’ve been doing the same task for a long time and are suffering from general tiredness from the day wearing on!
Most people don’t have optimal brain function all day long, especially as the day wears on. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t do little things to improve your mental state and help you keep a clear head so your daily tasks can still be performed without significant slowing.