Keep your brain in tiptop shape and keep brain fog at bay with these tips.
In this article:
- What Causes Brain Fog?
- What Are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?
- What Does Brain Fog Do To You?
- How to Get Rid of Brain Fog and Avoid It
How to Beat Brain Fog
What Is Brain Fog? Brain fog is a general term used to refer to dysfunctions in memory, learning, and focus, which results in disorientation, confusion, and fatigue. It is a symptom of several medical conditions, but it is not considered a medical condition itself.
What Causes Brain Fog?
There are several medical conditions that can cause brain fog. Always keep in mind that you need to identify the root of the problem so you can properly treat it.
Here are the common causes of brain fog you should watch out for:
1. Lack of Sleep Leads to Decreased Concentration
Less than 8 hours of sleep each night and poor sleep quality can keep you from experiencing optimal brain function.
Lack of sleep can also lessen your level of concentration which leads to unfocused and hazy thoughts.
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A good night’s sleep of at least 8 hours will keep your mental clarity in top shape.
2. Stress Results in Mental Fatigue
When you are constantly stressed, you also experience mental fatigue. This exhaustion makes it more difficult to reason, think, and focus.
Aside from this, too much stress can also weaken your immune system and even trigger depression. That’s why being conscious of maintaining a healthy stress level is a must.
3. Unhealthy Personal Diet Affects Brain Function
Consuming food you are sensitive or allergic to can also cause brain fog. It is better to avoid these foods in your diet to maintain good physical and mental health. Take Vitamin B12 as it plays an important role in brain health and development.
4. Hormonal Changes Can Impair Cognition
The hormonal changes women experience during pregnancy and menopause can cause brain fog as well. During pregnancy, women’s estrogen and progesterone levels increase. This hormonal change can impair their cognition temporarily
When menopause kicks in, a woman’s estrogen level drops. This results in poor concentration and forgetfulness.
5. A Sedentary Lifestyle Affects Memory
In a recent study, researchers found that sedentary behavior can affect thinning in the parts of the brain essential to memory formation. A great way to combat a sedentary lifestyle is through exercise. It can boost your physical health and your learning and memory.
6. Side-Effects of Medications and Treatments
If you are taking medication or undergoing treatments and you experience brain fog, tell your doctor about it. This may be a side effect that needs extra attention. Your doctor may prescribe a lower dose or advise you to switch to another medicine to alleviate the side effects.
7. Medical Conditions May Be Behind Persistent Brain Fog
As mentioned earlier, brain fog can be an indication that you have an underlying medical condition. If you experience persistent brain fog, you may want to get checked for any of these conditions:
- Chronic fatigue syndrome
- Alzheimer’s disease
- Autoimmune diseases
- Sjögren syndrome
What Are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?
People who suffer from brain fog typically experience the following symptoms:
- Lack of concentration
- Lack of focus
- Disorientation and confusion
- Hazy and slow thinking
- Poor spatial awareness
Note that these symptoms can vary in intensity. You may experience them daily or in even more frequent intervals.
All these affect your ability to process information and think critically. In turn, they keep you from making sound decisions and solving problems. When unchecked and allowed to persist, these brain fog symptoms can eventually lead to anxiety and depression.
What Does Brain Fog Do To You?
Brain fog can affect your cognitive functions. These include experiencing dysfunction in the following:
- Memory retention
- Processing of information
- Calculation ability
- Ability to understand language
- Spatial and visual skills
- Organization, planning, and problem-solving abilities
Impairment of these brain functions can cause mental fatigue, as you will have trouble with comprehension, retention, and focus.
How to Get Rid of Brain Fog and Avoid It
As we age, our bodies deteriorate and our brains are no exception. While a regular physical fitness routine helps keep us healthy and agile, exercising our brain can keep us fit mentally.
Here are a few small things you can do on a daily basis to get rid of brain fog and avoid it altogether:
1. Master Basic Healthy Habits To Combat Cognitive Decline
You can combat cognitive decline and even decrease your susceptibility to dementia by practicing basic healthy habits. These include eating a well-balanced diet, getting plenty of good sleep, and limiting smoking and drinking.
2. Learn New Things to Challenge Your Mind
While your job may require critical thinking, taking up a hobby or starting a project forces you to practice an unfamiliar skill. This will challenge your mind and keep it limber.
3. Write It Down To Build Stronger Memory Connections
When you come across new information you want to retain, repeat it out loud or write it down to build stronger memory connections.
4. Read To Improve Brain Concentration
Maintain an active reading schedule; this helps improve your concentration.
5. Get Physical To Increase The Hippocampus
The hippocampus in the brain controls our memory system. A study at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign found that a year of aerobics can increase the size of an adult hippocampus up to 2%.
Regular exercise can also help you avoid developing a sedentary lifestyle, which can lead to brain fog and medical conditions.
6. Pump Up Your Workout To Challenge Your Mind
Weightlifting and other forms of strength training that emphasize technique and form provide a more cognitive challenge. As a result, they improve long- and short-term memory more than other routines such as running on the treadmill.
7. Listen to Music For Mental Clarity
In Alex Doman’s book Healing at the Speed of Sound, he gave good advice on how to cultivate mental clarity.
He said listening to simple-structured songs or music with repetitive rhythms can help you stay alert and focused when performing tasks.
8. Laugh Out Loud to Spark Creativity in the Brain
Listening to somebody tell a joke or share a humorous story activates the parts of the brain that affect creativity. As a result, you engage your cognitive senses and allow your brain to process information and react.
9. Enjoy Antioxidants To Improve Short Term Memory
In a study conducted by Tufts University, evidence suggested that enjoying a cup of blueberries a day may improve short-term memory. Studies also show that antioxidant-rich fruits may improve balance and coordination.
10. Get Your Vitamin E To Prevent Cognitive Decline
You may know that vitamin E is good for the skin, but according to the American Journal of Epidemiology, it can also prevent cognitive decline. You can source vitamin E from nuts, brown rice, whole grains, and eggs.
11. Perk Up To Sharpen Focus
Consuming a moderate amount of coffee can sharpen your focus and protect your memory. Just be sure to limit it to one cup a day since too much caffeine can lead to cognitive decline.
12. Go Green To Slow Aging in the Brain
Green tea contains strong antioxidants called polyphenols, which can improve alertness and slow your brain’s aging process. You can add green tea to your daily diet, or alternate it with coffee if you want to mix things up.
13. Load Up on Omega-3 Fatty Acids To Boost Brain Power
Balance your sugar intake with omega-3 fatty acids. In a study conducted by UCLA, researchers found that rats on high-sugar diets completed mazes slower than those who weren’t on high-sugar diets.
According to the study, consuming a diet high in fructose in the long term changes your brain’s ability to learn and retain information. The bright side is, if you add omega-3 fatty acids to your diet, you can minimize the damage.
Foods that contain omega-3 fatty acids are fish, plant oils, seeds and nuts, and fortified foods.
14. Download Apps for Cognitive Improvement
Chances are, you’re already using a fitness app to track miles or count calories, so why not download one for mental fitness?
Lumosity is an app that uses a set of three timed games. These help improve your memory, attention span, problem-solving skills, and comprehension. The app also keeps track of your progress and shows how your performance stacks up against other app users.
15. Download Apps for Memory Improvement
The Eidetic app relies on a spaced repetition method to train your brain to retain short-term memories or small bits of information like phone numbers. The app asks for information you want to memorize and then quizzes you on the info.
Each quiz is strategically spaced out to ensure you retain the info in your long-term memory bank.
16. Manage Your Stress For Mental Clarity
It may be easier said than done, but learning how to manage your stress can save you from a lot of trouble. You also need to know your limitations so you can avoid taking on too much.
When you feel yourself getting overwhelmed, take deep breaths and calm down. Don’t let your emotions take over as this will only heighten your stress level.
Instead, focus on finding ways to solve the problem. Keep your mind rational and clear so you can make sound decisions.
17. Zen Out To Reduce Stress Further
You can benefit a lot from meditation. This can reduce your stress and blood pressure and improve your overall health.
If you’re experiencing brain fog, you’ll benefit from the increased mental awareness meditation brings. Clearing your mind can help you think clearer and focus at the moment.
18. Detox To Reduce Brain Fog
Toxins come from different sources, including the food you consume and your daily activities. When these build up in your body, they can cause brain fog.
19. Take the Right Amount of Medication For Mental Clarity
This may seem like common sense, but some may need a reminder to follow their doctor’s orders. Remember that medications and treatments can have brain fog as a side effect.
Always pay attention to how your body reacts to your medicine and treatments. If you have concerns about possible side effects, don’t hesitate to speak to your doctor about it.
Keeping your mental health in top form takes time and dedication, but the rewards are worth it. Always pay close attention to your body so you can identify symptoms such as brain fog.
More than trying to get rid of it, you need to take active steps to avoid experiencing it. Follow our tips above and enjoy a healthier and happier lifestyle.
What steps do you take to prevent brain fog? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
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Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on July 1, 2015, and has been updated for quality and relevancy.