We’ve all experienced mental fog. You feel like your brain is made of cloud puffs instead of an actual brain. Its symptoms include:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Diminished memory
- Finding it hard to focus
- Poor communication skills
- Low motivation
- Easily distracted
I knew these feelings all too well for a couple of years after my son was born. Eight months of sleep deprivation, insufficient nutrition as a result of caring mainly for my son and not myself, and constantly feeling overwhelmed as a single, working mom took it’s toll.
But brain fog can be a result of any type of imbalance in the control center of the brain, otherwise known as the hypothalamus. This imbalance can be a result of inflammation, free radicals or any type of stress brought on by several factors, such as:
- Imbalanced hormones
- Not getting enough sun exposure
- Substance abuse
- Not getting enough sleep
Even though mental fog is a natural result of our busy, nonstop lifestyles, it’s no fun when it happens frequently. If you feel that you’re experiencing fogginess more often than you’d like, then here are some simple changes you can do to stop it from happening and prevent any future occurrences.
1. Eat for brain health
It’s amazing how much power our food has over us. Processed foods, foods high in trans fats and gluten all have a negative effect on your brain. So much so that a study has proven how gluten sensitivity has been linked to low concentration and focus abilities. Also, not getting enough water into your system can lead to brain freeze.
As a new mom with no family to help, I found it difficult to prepare proper meals most of the time, and often resorted to things I could grab quickly, including bread, popcorn, etc. (think lots of carbs!). Even though I thought I was being somewhat healthy by choosing organic and sprouted grains, I was completely unaware of how much of an effect eating all of these grains had on my cognitive ability. In addition, I wasn’t consuming enough nutrition, especially since I was nursing, and really should have focused on replenishing the vitamins and minerals by body was losing (through nutrition).
2. Take your vitamins
If your diet is lacking in antioxidants, vitamins, such as D and B complex, or minerals, such as calcium, zinc and magnesium, then you should start looking for supplements that work along your diet and provide you with all the necessary nourishment you’re lacking.
As I mentioned, vitamins and minerals are extremely important to proper brain function, and while we should ideally be getting them through good nutrition and optimized digestion, a supplement can often being very helpful in getting us to the levels we need to be in order to function at our peak.
3. Get better sleep
We all sleep, but it’s the quality of our sleep that can either make us or break us. High quality sleep improves brain function on a whole. While it’s ideal to get the full 8 hours each night, some people require only 6 for optimal effectiveness. Find what works best for you, then regulate your sleep by creating a relaxing bedtime routine and a comfortable sleeping area.
If you need help winding down before bed, I highly recommend Banyan Botanicals Stress Ease formula. It’s the same as their sleep formula, except without valerian, which I find can lead to grogginess in the morning. It’s not intense like a traditional sleep aid that knocks you out, but rather, it helps calm the nervous system allowing you to feel nice and relaxed before bed! I personally use it every day.
4. Work out
When you exercise, you send fresh, oxygenated blood to your entire body, mainly your brain. This boosts its cognitive functions and diminishes brain fog. Studies have proven how exercise can improve learning and study skills, optimize concentration and memory skills.
Go for a walk, play with your children, dance to your favorite music – anything that gets the body moving can help!
5. Take nootropics
When my son was born, I was up most of the night for the first eight months, but by the time he was two, I still hadn’t recovered my previous level of cognitive function, even though I was consistently sleeping through the night at that point. That’s when I remembered how helpful nootropics (natural brain-boosting supplements) could be and oh my gosh, did it work! Within a couple of weeks of consistently taking them, I was back to my “old self” in terms of my brain’s abilities. I could think clearly and sharply, I could easily remember things and perform complex functions that I had been struggling with up until that point. Not only that, but my mood improved dramatically as I found myself with a more positive outlook, like I had in the past. I felt motivated and inspired again. I’ll address some of the more specific benefits I experienced in future posts.
But for now, some of my favorite nootropics include:
There’s some others that I really like as well, but I don’t want to overwhelm you, especially if you’re new to them. Start with a few and if you’d like more suggestions, feel free to email me at Liz@thewisdomofwellness.com.
Brain fog is completely reversible. All it takes is a few changes to our lifestyle and routines. Each one of us is unique, so it may take some trial and error at first to find that perfect fit. Start with one of the suggestions above, and once you’ve implemented it for 2 – 3 weeks, add another. After a short amount of time, you’ll start to notice the benefits and you’ll be glad that you put in the effort to regain mental clarity and be able to perform at your best!