Help For Brain Fog
It’s not always menopause related as a 2021 study found that 7% of those with long COVID reported brain fog.
Brain fog is a temporary condition that can make it difficult for you to concentrate, recall or retain information, and complete tasks.
When your brain is feeling fuzzy you’re unmotivated, it’s difficult to remember important information, and your mind is taking every opportunity to drift.
Brain fog’ isn’t a scientific term and we all have periods of not thinking as sharply as we’d like. But most of the time, the sensation is temporary.
Why have I got brain fog?
Although it is certainly very common at Menopause it’s not just hormonal changes that can cause you to start being less sharp in your thinking. There can be a number of other factors involved, in particular chronic stress, depression, dehydration, a poor diet, certain medications (such as those for anxiety and depression) and other health conditions or infections.
Lifestyle changes that can help
Because there are so many different factors related to brain fog, there’s no one-size-fits-all way of treating it.
If your brain fog is disrupting your everyday routine or making it hard to perform daily tasks, you should make an appointment with your doctor. But, if all you’re experiencing is a little bit of fogginess, it might be worth it to test out a few lifestyle changes.
Take a real break
Have you ever felt like you just couldn’t get yourself to focus on a task, no matter how hard you tried? Well, research suggests the solution isn’t to try harder. It might be best to momentarily quit.
A 2016 study suggested that stepping away from a task and taking a break can substantially improve your performance, focus, and degree of self-control – just not by checking for messages on your phone.
One 2019 study showed that reaching for a mobile did not allow the brain to recharge as effectively as other types of relaxation.
To give your brain a more efficient break, try:
– Meditating. Just a few mindful minutes can increase concentration.
– Calling a friend or loved one as social connection improves brain function.
– Taking a power nap as it may strengthen memory retention and cognition.
– Doing something creative such as painting, writing, colouring, dancing, cooking, or baking as creativity helps reduce stress.
– Going outdoors as research indicates that being in nature is a positive promoter of mental health.
Eat (and drink) to feel good
Treats like sweets and crisps can provide an immediate brain boost, but sticking to a balanced diet will help you perform more consistently throughout the day.
You don’t have to make dramatic changes right away. Instead of removing the “unhealthy” foods you regularly eat, start by making nutritious additions to your meals and snack times.
Foods high in antioxidants — such as blueberries, oranges, and nuts — help reduce oxidative stress in the body, which can have a positive effect on the brain and body.
Other nutritious brain foods include fish as it is high in omega-3 fatty acids. These have been associated with lower rates of cognitive decline, according to experts.
It’s also important to stay hydrated s the brain is approximately 75 percent water and a 2021 study found dehydration can affect memory and mood.
A good rule of thumb is to drink enough fluids for your urine to be clear or light yellow.
You might have heard people comparing your brain to a computer, but the truth is a lot more complicated than that. Your brain and body are intimately connected. So if your mind’s feeling off, it might be helpful to get moving.
Scientists have associated a wide variety of exercises with improved brain function. A 2016 study found that exercise promotes the expression of proteins in the brain that enhance brain function and reduce instances of anxiety and depression.
Exercise may relieve chronic pain and fatigue and a 2021 study suggests it can also distract us from upsetting thoughts and a previous study notes that it can aid in emotional regulation after a stressful event.
While the usual recommendation is that you exercise for 30 minutes per day, any kind of movement counts.
Here are a few activities to try:
– Walking as even 10 minutes may boost mood.
– Yoga as studies show it can reduce stress, anxiety, and depression.
– High intensity exercise has been found to improve cognitive function.
– Stretching helps not just your muscles but it may help reduce insomnia.
– Gardening can reduce anxiety and depression and increase life satisfaction and if growing veg it can improve your diet too.
Go easy on the caffeine and alcohol
Most of us enjoy these in moderation, but when it comes to these two substances, it’s important to consider the difference between our understanding of “moderation” and what the science actually says.
Caffeine can cause jitters, headaches, insomnia, upset stomach, and rapid heart rate, especially if you have a caffeine sensitivity.
The same goes for alcohol as it is both a stimulant and a depressant, which significantly impairs cognitive functioning. Once the levels of alcohol in your body decrease, withdrawing from the substance can cause fatigue, headache, vertigo, anxiety, and other symptoms of brain fog.
We’ve all made the connection between sleep and tiredness, but the effects of sleep deprivation on the brain and body are extensive.
Poor sleep affects your ability to make decisions, solve problems, and control your emotions. And what’s more, experts say that sleep deprivation can increase your risk for chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, obesity, and heart disease.
Prioritize sleep with these simple lifestyle changes:
– Go to bed and get up around the same time every day, even on weekends, to establish a pattern.
– Wind down at least 1 hour before bed by shutting off your electronics, which are associated with a higher incidence of insomnia and shorter sleep duration.
– Avoid nicotine and caffeine, which are stimulants that can interfere with sleep.
– Keep your room dark with blackout shades, if necessary. If you live in a noisy area, then investigate using a sleep sound machine to mask them with white noise, birdsong, or other options these machines have.
For most of us, brain fog is related to lifestyle or temporary stressors and menopause can be full of those.
Stress and anxiety both deplete your natural hormone reserves so ensure you have good levels of progesterone as that is particularly helpful for brain fog.
Your diet too plays a part, so here’s an article that advises you what can make your brain fog worse so you can avoid those triggers.