Have you ever felt like your head is underwater? Like you can’t think clearly or remember what you’ve been doing? That no matter what you do, you can’t get your brain to work properly? The dreaded brain fog descends upon each of us from time to time, leaving us feeling dazed, confused, and frustrated by our inability to function.
Brain fog can be the symptom of conditions ranging from hormonal changes, like pregnancy and menopause, to diseases like Lupus or Multiple Sclerosis. If you’re having chronic issues with brain fog, consult with your doctor to rule out any serious medical issues. If your “fuzzy brain” feelings only happen occasionally, it’s more likely that the symptom is brought on by something in your lifestyle. Here are some of the main culprits that might be leaving you feeling foggy -– and how to treat brain fog accordingly.
Is it Multi-Tasking or Over Stimulation?
You probably like to call it “multi-tasking,” but in reality, you’re giving your brain more than it can handle -– especially when it comes to electronic devices. Researchers at Stanford University found that multi-taskers are not only less productive, but they also have trouble paying attention and recalling information. Similarly, researchers at the University of Sussex used MRI scans to determine that multi-taskers had less brain density in the area that controls cognitive functions. If your brain is feeling fuzzy, stop overwhelming it. Focus on one task at a time -– and you’ll complete everything on your to-do list faster and more effectively.
Early to Bed and Early to Rise
There’s no question that a lack of sleep takes its toll on nearly every aspect of your well-being, and brain function is no exception. According to scientists at the University of California-San Diego, just one night of insufficient sleep can make your brain less efficient at filtering important information. Insomniacs have it even worse, as their brain cells never get enough rest. As a result, their brain cells may die off or become clogged with proteins, based on a study from the University of Pennsylvania. To keep your brain functioning at prime levels, give it a rest! Aim for between seven and nine hours of sleep most nights.
Get Moving to Clear the Fog
Ever hear someone say that they’re going for a run to clear their head? It works. Not only does exercise help treat brain fog in the short term, but it also has significant long-term effects on brain function. A study from the University of British Columbia proved that regular aerobic exercise actually increases the size of your hippocampus which affects verbal memory and learning. To treat brain fog, get about 30 minutes of moderate exercise most days of the week.
Avoid the Swamp Diet
You are what you eat, so if you’ve been chowing down on Cheetos, it’s no wonder that you’re looking at the world through an orange-tinted haze. Too much sugar, too little fat, or a deficiency in vitamins like D and B12 may result in an inability to think clearly. Eating a healthy, balanced diet is the best way to ensure that you’re getting the nutrition you need for your brain to function correctly. And don’t forget -– drinking affects thinking too! Both alcohol and caffeine lead to dehydration, which saps your brain right along with the rest of you. Drink both in moderation and hydrate with two liters of water per day.
Keep the Stress Away
It’s no secret that stress can have a terrible effect on your body from creating ulcers and stomach issues to wreaking havoc on your brain. When your “fight or flight” reflex is activated, your brain focuses on the danger at hand which makes focusing on anything else a challenge. The more anxious you are, the more your brain launches into “fight or flight” mode. Over time, that can result in actual changes in your ability to think. To treat brain fog, find your own technique for keeping stress under control whether it’s meditation, therapy, exercise, or something else. Both your body and brain will benefit.
Bye-Bye Brain Fog
At its best brain fog is a minor inconvenience, and at its worst, it may be indicative of a more serious problem. Treating brain fog depends on the cause. If you’re struggling to figure out what’s behind your fuzzy thinking, a life coach can help you identify and work through your issues to live a healthier, more clear-headed life. Once you’re thinking clearly, you may even decide to coach others to help them keep their own brain fog at bay!
Also published on Medium.