Brain fog is a medical condition that affects our awareness of ourselves, our actions and our surroundings. The condition manifests in the form of clouded thinking and difficulty thinking. It feels as if mist or fog has settled over one’s head, preventing clear thinking. Because it causes us to process information slower, reducing alertness, brain fog makes even the simplest of tasks quite difficult to accomplish. And the more effort we put into functioning, the more tired we are. As a result, fatigue may install, and along with it indifference and impassiveness.
Treating brain fog can be quite difficult because of the variety of possible causes that can trigger it. For this reason, knowing what causes brain fog is important when looking to treat it. For example, the condition commonly occur during periods of high stress, physical and mental exhaustion or it can be a side effect of an underlying medical condition. For instance, hypothyroidism is known to cause actual brain fog and other symptoms such as fatigue or irritability. Hormonal changes such as those occurring during pregnancy also bring up symptoms such as forgetfulness and mental fog.
There can be other more serious causes of brain fog. Depending on one’s age, medical history or genetics, dementia may be another possibility of forgetfulness, but so can diabetes or certain infections. This is why it is extremely important to make an appointment with your doctor if you experience brain fog and associated symptoms, even if there is little or no chance of a more serious underlying illness. Your doctor will certainly run tests to rule out potentially serious conditions, but for this, he or she will need an accurate, detailed account of your symptoms and any particular lifestyle or eating habits. The more accurate you are in your description of symptoms, the more helpful it will be for your doctor to diagnose you and recommend the best course of treatment for you.
Brain fog can be treated by treating the underlying condition causing it or by managing symptoms and problematic areas of our life or aspects of our lifestyle and diet that could be causing it. Different people find relief in different approaches and remedies, so it is good to keep in mind that what might be good for others might not necessarily be good for us too. For example, my 5 greatest solutions for dealing with brain fog might either help some of you or might not be of very much use for others. This being said, here are 10 great approaches to treating brain fog:
1) Sleep. Sleep is rest for the body, mind and soul. It’s renewal of the mind, senses, physical abilities and emotional balance and has a strong rejuvenating effect. When my brain fog is too bad, I simply take a nap or go to bed early and sleep my confusion off. For me, sleep is one of the best solutions for brain fog.
2) Rest. Resting doesn’t necessarily mean sleeping. Taking a break and doing something else, something that does not necessarily require much thought or effort, but helps us rest, can restore our productivity. It may be lying in bed doing nothing or getting a massage, it’s still a pause if it’s helping us rest our mind or body, restore our energy and get rid of brain fog.
3) Break routine. A change of scenery can be best thing for our brain, often the source of brain fog. If we do the same thing again and again, our brain gets stuck in routine, our productivity can decrease by a lot and we may find ourselves with mental fog. If you’ve been in the office for too long, going out for lunch or seeing friends in the weekend can help restore sanity. If you’ve been studying intensely or simply being in the same place, doing the same thing for too long, then it might be good to break the rut and you just might get rid of your brain fog. It doesn’t have to be a vacation proper, just a vacation from our daily routine.
4) Enjoy some silence, or not. Too much noise can easily tire us to the point we end up having brain fog. You can try to take time of from noise and just be alone with your thoughts. I often retreat to the back of the garden for some quiet time and it really does help me reorganize my thoughts and gain some clarity. At the same time, if you’re spending too much time in silence, you might benefit more from some good music.
5) Avoid sedentarism. Sedentarism can have us in the house for days or weeks at a time. This means our brain can lack the stimulus of the outside world, of movement and, again, get stuck in routine, which is not healthy for it and can render us utterly unproductive and with slow, clouded thinking. Even a computer with access to the farthest corners of the world will become unsatisfactory eventually as our brain needs real interaction, sunlight, fresh air, exercise and the unexpected.
6) Eat some fats. Our brain is partially made of fats and requires them to work well. When I work long hours, I notice I get really hungry for fats and just can’t think anymore. If I eat some tuna with mayonnaise or some boiled salmon or some baked potatoes with sour cream or a little butter, my mental fog disperses all of a sudden. But if I don’t eat something with a little fat, especially animal fat, my brain fog can continue for days and gets worse by the day. I find Omega-3 fatty acids from fish are great, but so is a bit of cholesterol from two sunny side up eggs or the fats in walnuts and peanut butter.
7) Get your magnesium and B vitamins. Magnesium improves mood and makes us more productive and happier, reducing the risk for conditions such as anxiety or depression that may cause brain fog. B vitamins are food for the hard-working brain, needed to support cognitive performance and a deficiency can very easily slow down our thinking and give rise to mental fog.
8) Make sure you get enough vitamin D. Vitamin D is greatly responsible for our good mood. Without it we get seasonal affective disorder and continual states of sadness, tiredness, lack of motivation and interest and even brain fog. Getting enough sun safely or supplementing with vitamin D3 when the weather doesn’t allow for sun exposure helps me overcome brain fog successfully.
9) Cope with stress. Dealing with stress doesn’t necessarily have to mean eliminating all stress factors completely. Because maybe that job that is causing you a lot of stress is what you want and feel is a great oportunity for you at the moment and are confident that it will get easier. After all, nothing is really easy in the beginning. Developing better coping mechanisms means more than just giving up on what is difficult. It’s teaching yourself not to take small failures personally and learn to detach, compartmentalize.
Your job might be difficult, but you don’t want to give it up just yet? Then fill up on joy when you are with your family and allow yourself to feel the happiness. Do you have a passion or just like doing something? Then that is your way out of stress and brain fog. It can be playing with your dog, seing your friends, dancing, painting, yoga, pilates, stretching, playing video games, meditation or even sleeping. Just make time for it.
10) Drink tea. Some people find drinking tea helps them relax and gain perspective over their life, clearing their mind of fog and worries. Indeed, certain teas do help with a variety of health issues and resolve a multitude of problematic aspects that may contribute to mental fog. Chamomile, lavender, lemon balm and rooibos are quite relaxing and can calm stress and help us rest, which can contribute to dispersing mental fog. St John’s wort, passionflower and valerian are herbs that help with anxiety and depression, two possible causes of brain fog. Hawthorn and common sea buckthorn are great for lowering blood pressure.
I often drink sea buckthorn tea because I enjoy the taste and it has a calming effect, most likely due to its blood pressure lowering effects, but I limit my consumption to a couple of cups a week because I already have low blood pressure. So it’s possible to find relief and overcome brain fog in so many ways, from drinking tea and changing the scenery to making sure we get enough magnesium, B vitamins, vitamin D and fats in our diet. What do you do to relieve brain fog?