A friend of mine once remarked, “You are so outgoing. I wish I was more like that.” She considers herself an introvert and wanted to push herself to be more social. She insists I have the advantage in life because of how easily I make friends and talk to people. But I reminded her, there […]
Have you ever have brain fog? We heard about it during COVID. Brain fog is not a medical term. It involves your thinking and memory. You feel a little slow, forget words and feel like you are in a memory fog. When brain fog is stress-induced, your memory isn’t really the problem. It’s more about how your lifestyle impacts your thinking. And when brain fog occurs, you don’t do your best work or feel like your best self.
Before we discuss how to clear brain fog, make sure it isn’t caused by an underlying medical condition. A number of medical conditions such as hyperthyroidism, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, B12 deficiency, anemia, hormonal changes, or even a brain tumor can be at the root of a brain memory problem. And some medications can have brain fog as a side effect. So make sure you see your physician before you chalk brain fog up to increased stress and poor lifestyle.
When brain fog is stress-induced, memory and concentration problems, fatigue and lethargy and problems with thinking often result. This is because stress can reduce blood flow to the brain and cause memory problems. Stress activates a cascade of negative body reactions when it is chronic and unmanaged and is included on the list below.
Steps to clear your brain:
- Assess your diet. Eating a healthy diet is one way to give your a brain boost. Since your gut and brain are connected, eating well can fix your brain. Add more fruits and veggies. Avoid inflammatory foods like processed and sugar containing foods. And check to see if you have food allergies to things like gluten, which can also mess up the chemicals in your brain. Simply make a few dietary changes and see if you think better.
- Drink more water. It’s really a simple idea but when you are dehydrated, your brain doesn’t work as well. And many of us load up on dehydrating drinks like caffeine and alcohol. So think of yourself like a house plant that needs to be watered on a much more regular basis.
- Get moving and add more exercise. Exercise clears your head-walk, run, get on your bike. The physical movement will make you feel better. It’s good for the brain and so many other health conditions. You can’t go wrong adding more movement in your life.
- Get a good night’s sleep. Shoot for 7-8 hours a night. Go to bed and wake up around the same time every night and day. Avoid blue light sources from screens when trying to fall asleep. They disrupt the circadian rhythm of your internal body clock. When you don’t sleep well, your brain doesn’t reboot. Consequently, you don’t function as well.
- Minimize screen time during the day. Your eyes and brain need a rest from all phone and screen checking and reading. So put the device down, get off the computer and take a break. Engage with people in real time. Your brain will thank you!
- Stop multitasking. Give your brain a rest and practice focusing on one thing at a time. Switching tasks messes up your memory. You may think you are good at multitasking, but the brain has to do a start and stop action each time you change tasks and memory is lost.
- Check your vitamin B12 and vitamin D levels. If they are low, they can affect your energy levels and lead to fatigue. Both can contribute to brain fog.
- Look at the side effects of your regular medications. Some medications can cause brain fog so check with your physician to see if this is a cause. Some medications used for depression and anxiety can have this side effect. However, the benefits from taking those medications may be worth it.
- Create mental fitness through games and learning a new language. Instead of staring at screens and passively watching TV, play some board and card games to engage your brain in problem-solving and activity. Just like you need physical exercise, mental exercise is good for you as well. And learning a language is good stimulation for the brain. Challenge the brain with new things.
- Keep your stress managed. Stress activates a number of chemicals in your body that make it harder to think well and focus. One of those is cortisol which can lead to feeling foggy and sluggish. Managing stress is probably the best thing you can do to feel clear and sharp.