Have you ever felt like you’re unable to think clearly?
Or unable to remember small things that you really wanted to remember?
Or unable to focus on one thing for more than a few minutes at a time?
Or unable to say what you mean to say?
Or just that your brain is in a constant state of flatulence?
Well, this is commonly known as brain fog. Although I’m sure you’ll forget that, so feel free to call it whatever you want. (Suggestions include Brian Gof, farty brain and what the fog is going on)
In all seriousness though, brain fog can be very debilitating and incredibly frustrating when it interferes with your life.
But not to worry, in this article we’ll tell you all about it, including what it could mean and how we can deal with it.
Causes of Brain Fog
First of all, we’d recommend that if brain fog continues to wreak havoc on your day-to-day life, we recommend seeking support from your GP as it can often be related to underlying causes.
Brain fog could occur because a number of these things occur at once.
Some of which will be mentioned below:
Poor sleep can often be a cause of a tired brain. Sleep is one of the most important things we can do for our body’s functionality. Without it, it can be detrimental to our brains, bodies and lives.
Poor Diet or Allergies
It is common knowledge that diet can also have an impact on your brain’s function. But more specifically, vitamin B12 is closely link to brain health, so deficiencies in this could be the reason behind your brain fog.
As well as certain allergies and intolerances, such as dairy for example. So it may be worth trying to cut this from your diet if brain fog is a frequent issue.
Ahh good old stress, the enemy of pretty much everything for most people. Stress can be a direct cause of mental fatigue and, more often than not, it is.
Stress sends your brain into hyperdrive and overloads it with a lot of information at once.
Obviously, when your brain has more to compute, it tires out very quickly.
We also leave ourselves at risk of burning out, which is another cause of brain fog.
For more on burnout, click here: https://mhmonster.org/what-is-burnout-and-how-can-we-deal-with-it/
I’m going to apologise in advance for using the much-despised C word here. But according to NHS Inform, coronavirus infection can result in mental fatigue, slowed thinking, poor concentration, lost words and forgetfulness.
All of which would appear on Brian Gof’s greatest hits album!
Yep, many medical conditions can also be associated with brain fog. These include:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Auto-immune disorders
- Chronic pain syndrome
And more – if you’re worried about any of these conditions, please seek medical assistance from your GP!
Changes in hormones can be associated with cloudy thinking. For example, a drop in oestrogen levels, for women mostly.
For this reason, pregnancy, puberty and menopause can unfortunately impair thinking in the short term.
Brain fog can be a side effect of many medications, including those used in chemotherapy or for a range of mental health conditions, often labelled as ‘fuzzy thinking’.
It is important to discuss side effects with your doctor before taking on any medication.
How to Prevent Brain Fog
Again, we recommend that you speak to a GP if brain fog is persistent and has a significant impact on your day-to-day activities, as a doctor may be able to run a few tests that could diagnose an underlying issue.
But otherwise, here are 10 things that we can do to reduce our brain fog:
Recognise Our Brain Fog
Sometimes the first step to solving any issue is to recognise it in the first place. So, when suffering from brain fog it is important to try and articulate what you’re feeling.
Perhaps try telling a friend or writing down how it is affecting you.
P.S. Writing ‘I don’t know what I’m feeling’ or ‘I can’t explain’ is still an expression!
Improve Our Sleep
Easier than it sounds I know, but there is plenty of information online on ways to improve our sleep, but we must start by prioritising it, because its importance can never ever be downplayed.
It is recommended that we aim for 7-8 hours of decent kip per night and try to wake up at the same time every morning.
Here are some small things that we can do to improve our sleep.
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Oh and short naps of up to 30 minutes are allowed!
Boost Our Brains
There are a variety of ways that we can improve our memory and build up brain cognition. From building pneumonic devices to chewing gum.
These practices are generally specific to you, but taking regular breaks, drinking coffee in the morning, breathing, exercise, puzzles and brain training are common recommendations.
I try to take at least 5 minutes per day to do a crossword or something similar. (Yup, they’re not just for boomers). Most recently, Wordle has been a fun and engaging way to work on my brain in the mornings.
Tweak Our Diets
Major diet changes might not be necessary, but you’ll be surprised at what small changes can do for our brains.
As a Vitamin B12 deficiency can be a leading factor, why not try more foods that contain it? Examples include meat and poultry, eggs, cheese, yeast, breakfast cereals and more.
Regularly consuming fruits, vegetables and some fats may also help.
Although dairy intake can also lead to brain fog so it might be that cutting it out could work for you.
Oh and drinking plenty of water is essential.
For more on how to use foods to boost your brain, check out this expert article written by nutritionist Francesca Vuolo.
Meditation may not be for everyone, but the benefits it can have for both general wellbeing and eradicating brain fog are not to be ignored.
It is a great way to learn how to take control of your thoughts, which is absolutely amazing for sleep, concentration and calming down a racing mind.
Balance are currently offering a one-year free trial on the app store in which you can get guided meditation tailored specifically to your needs, time and preferences.
(I’m unsure how long this offer will last so I’d get in there quick, even if it’s just to try).
Limit Unhealthy Behaviours
Things like smoking, excessive caffeine intake and regular alcohol consumption can increase the severity of brain fog, so taking steps to reduce these are well worth a go if they’re frequent.
Also, constant scrolling is not going to help. We take in so much information at once via social media and it can cause our brains to overload. Maybe we could try counting to five before unlocking our phones.
There’s nothing like a free and open mind!
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This one is again quite specific to you as different things work for different people. Although it is good practice to build up a list of short-term stress busters that work for you (e.g. music, exercise, films, books, cooking etc.)
One way to de-stress is to use the stress budget technique…
Step 1: Make a list of your stressors, everything you can think of at this moment in time.
Step 2: Once you have your list, grade them from 1-5 in terms of their importance. Be critical.
Step 3: Stick a pound sign in front of each number.
Step 4: Set your budget. Try to allow yourself no more than £15 and use this to work out what you can afford to focus on. Put anything that doesn’t fit on the backburner for now.
Step 5: Set a timescale. The things that you’ve chosen are going to be your priorities for that period of time.
Step 6: Repeat.
We’ll cover this in more detail in another article!
Systemise Our Lives
Systems and routines can be an effective way to make progress without having to think too much, freeing up time for our minds to recover.
Whilst sometimes it can take a while to build routines, but by taking one step at a time, we’ll be well on our way to reducing our brain fog.
Why not try writing to-do lists the night before the following day, or cooking meals at similar times each day, for example.
Our brains need breaks. Simple as. Therefore, it is absolutely essential that we schedule in breaks and time to do things that we really enjoy.
Without enjoyment, our brains can become very tired, and we will quickly become incredibly demotivated.
Get A Mental Health Review
As brain fog can occur as a result of certain mental health conditions, it is most definitely worth checking in with yourself.
There are a number of ways to do this, from depression and anxiety self-assessment tests (like this one from the NHS) to a quick visit to the GP.
If you’ve had a previous diagnosis, then requesting a review with your GP may be a good option. From there, remedies and solutions may be recommended.
So there we have it, brain fog can occur for a huge number of reasons and there are some ways to deal with it depending on its cause. However, that does not make it any easier to have to cope with. We really do wish you all the best with your brain fog, but hope that you find some comfort in the fact that you’re not alone.