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Experiencing Brain Fog? How to Fight It & Think Clearly Again

I am heading into my mid-40s. Lately, I have found myself in my home suddenly wondering what I was doing. Of course, it takes only a few seconds for me to locate the reason in my brain. Still, as I age, the brain fog worries me.

Have you been in your home or office only to stop dead in your tracks and ask yourself, “Wait, what was I going to do?” Do you ever feel confused for a brief moment or have problems recalling information? Are you in your premenopausal stage of your late 30s to early 50s?

If any of these scenarios ring true for you, you are not suffering from early-onset memory loss. Phew! Instead, you’re likely experiencing a completely normal episode of brain fog! Believe it or not, brain fog is common. In other words, it is one of the symptoms of another chapter of your life getting ready to begin.

Brain Fog 101

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is a cloudy feeling in your head that can make it difficult to concentrate. You might feel confused and have difficulty concentrating on the task at hand. Brain fog may even make you feel like you’re having an out of body experience, at least in my experience.

For many women, especially, brain fog is one of those annoying symptoms of getting older. Plus, there are many things in life competing for attention. For example, trying to juggle busy family schedules, work, among other things in life.

Brain Fog & Menopause

Brain fog occurs in pre-menopausal and menopausal women. The reason is because of a drop in estrogen levels that occurs in the hippocampus part of your brain. The hippocampus handles storing memories and taking in new information.

An estrogen drop does not mean you will forget important information. Yet, brain fog makes it more difficult to concentrate, understand, and recall information.

Depression & Anxiety

Within the context of depression & anxiety, brain fog takes on a more complicated role. Which comes first? The depression & anxiety leading to brain fog or the brain fog leading to depression & anxiety? Alas, the conclusion is not black & white.

When I experience anxiety, my mind races, my thoughts go in circles, my heart is fearful. I simply cannot relax.

Interestingly, the symptoms of brain fog seem the opposite. Instead of being acutely aware of the world around me, I find myself a bit slow and not being connected.

So, what is the connection between brain fog and anxiety then?

The symptoms of anxiety & brain fog essentially feed one another. Anxiety exacerbates brain fog while brain fog, in many cases, does the same to anxiety. So, as you might be able to ascertain from this brief explanation, lack of sleep and stress add to this feedback loop.

As mentioned by the psychologist, Alicia Clark, “When anxiety is already present, the ruminating, worry and racing thoughts literally exhaust the mind. Brain fog can take over with all its deficiencies in alertness and processing skills. The unfamiliarity is frightening, and a heightened level of anxiety ensues. And then more brain fog. It can feel like a vicious cycle.”

Brain Fog Symptoms

I thought about discussing symptoms based on my personal experience. However, I opted to consult a few reputable resources and here are the conclusions.

  • Trouble focusing
  • Lack of mental clarity
  • Slower decision making
  • Forgetfulness
  • Fatigue and irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Low energy
  • Slowed learning and processing time

Again, to be clear, I will also list anxiety brain fog symptoms courtesy of psychologist, Alicia Clark:

  • Difficulty concentrating and focusing
  • Unclear, nonlinear thoughts
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Difficulty reasoning logically
  • Feeling “off” and unable to correct
  • Difficulty processing information
  • Following instructions pose a challenge

Brain Fog Treatment

Truth time: you won’t be able to “cure” brain fog. You will have to ride the hormonal roller coaster until your body rebalances itself. Don’t fret, there are several impactful things you can do to reduce its annoying effects:

#1 – Sleep

Getting the right amount of sleep each night may be the perfect antidote for brain fog. People need eight or more hours of sleep each night to feel rested and have greatest focus and energy. Lack of sleep plus brain fog inhibits your ability to remember. Thus, your ability to take in new information decreases.

Get into a routine that allows you to go to bed at a reasonable hour each night. Don’t laugh but I actually set a reminder on my phone to “get ready for bed”. If you have problems unwinding before bedtime, read, color, or take a bath. These activities will help your body get ready to snooze as soon as your head hits the pillow.

Related Read: My Favorite Sleep Resources

#2 – Exercise

You need to move your body, friends. Sitting for extended periods of time in front of a tv or computer screen will make you lethargic. Having a job that requires you to sit at a desk for long periods doesn’t help. So, incorporate activities into your day where you need to get up and move a little.

Related: Six Reasons You Look Older

Need some inspiration to move? Here are some ideas to get moving during the day:

  • Send your print jobs to a printer that is in a land far, far away. 
  • Eat lunch away from your desk. 
  • Walk around the building, block, or down the street during your breaks. 
  • Coordinate an office exercise party or daily exercise routines.
  • Request a stand-up desk so you can work in a sitting or standing position. 
  • Work on projects in open spaces, if possible.
meditate to fight brain fog

#3 – Meditate

A daily meditation routine has enormous benefits. Meditation has been practiced in Asian cultures for thousands of years. In fact, meditation for kids & families is a trendy topic these days and there is a good reason for it. Meditation clears the mind and eases the body’s stress. Meditation is a soothing exercise that helps stress go away.

So, how do you meditate? It is super to do!

First, slip into some comfortable clothing (a tee-shirt, yoga pants, or running shorts are perfect for meditating). Once you have the right clothing on, find your meditation spot.

The ideal meditation spot should be a quiet space void of any outside distractions. [Honestly, though, I will take it where I can get it. So, I meditate at traffic lights, for example. However, the beach, the forest, a grassy meadow, or even a bedroom are good spots to meditate.]

Next, close your eyes and focus on nothing but rhythmic breathing. Meditation is best done in absolute silence, but you can incorporate music or incense into the mix if it helps you concentrate on relaxing better.

Eat salmon to fight brain fog

#4 – Eat the Right Foods

Duh, right? These days with all the diet crazes out there, who know who the heck to believe. Well, I have done a fair amount of research in this area and you can trust me 100%.

Furthermore, the more food you consume on a daily basis, the harder your body has to work to digest it all. Expending too much energy on digesting a large meal often depletes energy needed for sharp mental focus and raises the heart rate, especially before sleep.

You know the feeling you get after eating a big meal when all you want to do is lay down and take a nap? Yeah, well, it is exactly what you shouldn’t do!

This is the feeling you want to avoid at all costs when you struggle. Choose your food wisely and add a lot of brainpower food to your diet.

Foods to Help with Mental Clarity

Here are some of the top foods that aid in memory and good concentration:

  • Broccoli 
  • Blueberries 
  • Avocado 
  • Tumeric
  • Eggs 
  • Omega-3 rich fish 

Don’t let occasional bouts of brain fog bring you down. It is a perfectly normal part of aging and is usually caused by hormone shifts in women during peri-menopause.

Combat the ill effects with these tips and focus on living your most healthy life. While these episodes can last for years, you can reduce how they affect you by doing mindful exercises and indulging in memory-enhancing foods. 

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