11 Ways to Help Brain Fog and Stay Focused
Worried about memory loss at menopause? It can be hormone-related.
There is a lot of speculation about why some women suffer more from menopause brain fog or freeze than others.
It may be related to the interaction between hormone levels and neurotransmitters in the brain in individuals. It is also suggested that lifelong brain health habits such as doing puzzles, crosswords or learning a new skill as well as physical exercise can provide some protection of brain function.
In perimenopause and the early stages of menopause, women describe changes in their ability to think clearly, make decisions and function well mentally.
This form of brain fog affects around two-thirds of menopausal and perimenopausal women and is related to the effects of changing hormone levels on the female brain.
The first hormone level to drop is usually progesterone, and this can be related to irritability, mood swings and brain fog.
The drop in progesterone can also cause sleep disturbance. Sleep disturbance in itself can affect the brain’s ability to function optimally.
Here are some ways you can help yourself.
1. Challenge your brain
Remember trying to talk backwards as a child? Researchers at Duke University in North Carolina, USA created exercises they call “neurobics,” which challenge your brain to think in new ways.
Since your five senses are key to learning, use them to exercise your mind. If you’re right-handed, try using your left hand. Drive to work by another route. Close your eyes and see if you can recognise food by taste.
2. Get moving
Exercise, especially the kind that gets your heart rate up like walking or swimming, has mental pluses, too. Although experts aren’t sure why, physical activity might increase the blood supply to the brain and improve links between brain cells.
Staying active can help memory, imagination, and even your ability to plan tasks.
3. Build brainpower through diet
Do your brain a favour and choose foods that are good for your heart and waistline. Being obese in middle age makes you twice as likely to have dementia later on.
High cholesterol and high blood pressure raise your chances, too. Are you doing these?
- Bake or grill foods instead of frying.
- Cook with “good” fats like oils from nuts, seeds, and olives instead of cream, butter, and fats from meat.
- Eating a variety of colourful fruit and vegetables.
- Eat fish, particularly oily varieties.
4. Watch what you drink
You know that too many drinks can affect your judgment, speech, movement, and memory. But did you know alcohol can have long-term effects?
Too much drinking over a long period of time can shrink the frontal lobes of your brain and that damage can last forever, even if you quit drinking.
A healthy amount is considered one drink a day for women and two for men.
5. Video games are not just for kids
Several studies found that playing video games stimulates the parts of the brain that control movement, memory, planning, and fine motor skills.
Some experts say gaming only makes you better at gaming, but worth trying and could be a stimulating new hobby.
6. Music helps memory
Playing an instrument early in life pays off in clearer thinking when you’re older, but it’s never too late to start.
Musical experience boosts mental functions that have nothing to do with music, such as memory and ability to plan. It also helps with greater hand coordination.
7. Make Friends
Talking with others actually sharpens your brain, whether at work, at home, or out in your community.
Studies show social activities improve your mind, so volunteer, sign up for a class, or call a friend.
8. Stay Calm
Too much stress and anxiety can affect all of your body, from your hormones to your ability to think, or plan or remember.
Your brain contains cells that store and process information, so here are some ways to relax:
- Take deep breaths.
- Find something that makes you laugh.
- Listen to music.
- Try yoga or meditation.
- Talk to a friend.
9. The importance of sleep
Get enough sleep before and after you learn something new because you need sleep on both ends.
When you start out tired, it’s hard to focus on things, and when you sleep afterwards, your brain files away the new information so you can recall it later.
A long night’s rest is best for memory and your mood and you need 7-8 hours of sleep every night, during which the glymphatic system cleans out waste, or “junk,” particles.
10. Memory helpers
Everybody spaces out now and then and as you get older, you may not remember things as easily as you used to. That’s a normal part of ageing, so try these helpful hints:
- Write things down.
- Use the calendar/reminder functions in your phone, even for simple things.
- Focus on one task at a time.
- Learn new things one step at a time.
11. Name prompter
Have trouble recalling names? Always repeat a person’s name while you’re talking to them — at least in your head, if not out loud. Or invent a funny image or rhyme that you link with their name. For example, think of Bob bobbing out in the ocean.
If you are anxious or concerned about brain fog, then first check your hormone balance, and have a look at the following article which will give you some more help.