What if I tell you that you’re not the only one who is feeling “foggy” or forgetful or “off” these days?
Well, since the Covid-19 pandemic, a lot of people around the world have been dealing with mental fatigue, also commonly referred to as brain fog.
Thankfully, there are steps you can take to bring back your mental clarity and improve your brain function even as you age.
In this blog post, we’ll talk about the causes of brain fog, its symptoms, and how to combat brain fog effectively and naturally.
Let’s get started.
What is brain fog, exactly?
Mental fatigue, or brain fog, is a condition characterized by forgetfulness, difficulty concentrating, and low energy levels.
It can be caused by a number of things, including stress, hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, dehydration, and nutritional deficiencies.
For many people, brain fog is simply a side effect of the hustle and bustle of modern life, and mental fog only lasts for a few days.
But for others, this cognitive dysfunction can be a sign of a more serious underlying medical condition such as:
- chronic fatigue syndrome
- attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD),
- cancer and its treatments (i.e., chemo brain)
- multiple sclerosis
These medical conditions usually cause brain fog that lasts for a few weeks up to months.
What are the symptoms of brain fog?
The symptoms of brain fog vary from person to person. But in general, people experiencing brain fog may have some or all of the following symptoms:
- Difficulty concentrating or focusing on tasks
- Memory problems or forgetfulness
- Low energy levels and fatigue
- Feeling “foggy” or “out of it.”
- Difficulty multitasking
- Problems with making decisions
- Trouble with problem-solving
- Headaches and dizziness
- Irritability and low mood
If you’re experiencing any of these symptoms on a regular basis, it’s important to talk to your doctor to rule out any underlying health conditions.
How to Combat Brain Fog Effectively and Naturally
There are a number of things you can do to help improve your brain functions and clear the mental cobwebs.
Here are ten effective and natural ways to combat brain fog:
1) Get enough quality sleep at night.
Sleep is essential for a healthy brain and body.
When you don’t get enough sleep, your body isn’t able to repair itself properly, especially your brain cells, and this can lead to mental fatigue and brain fog.
So, make sure that you’re getting at least seven to eight hours of quality sleep each night.
If you have trouble sleeping, try some relaxation techniques, such as yoga or meditation, before bedtime.
Here are a few more tips to help you fall asleep easily and stay asleep each night:
- Establish a regular sleep schedule and stick to it as much as possible.
- Avoid caffeine and alcohol before bedtime.
- Get some exercise during the day, but not right before you go to bed.
- Create a relaxing bedtime routine and avoid using electronic devices in the hour leading up to sleep.
- Try using a white noise machine to help you sleep.
If you still can’t seem to get a good night’s sleep or dealing with a few sleep disorders, talk to your doctor about other options, such as taking a sleep aid.
2) Get regular aerobic exercise.
Exercise is one of the best things you can do for your mental health as it helps regulate your blood pressure and improve the flow of red blood cells to your brain.
Aerobic exercise, in particular, has been shown to improve cognitive function, memory, mental clarity, and executive functioning.
To optimize your health, aim for 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobics on most days of the week.
If you’re new to exercise or you haven’t been active in a while, start slow and gradually increase your activity level over time.
Examples of moderate-intensity aerobic exercises include brisk walking, biking, swimming, and light jogging.
If you don’t have 30 minutes to exercise all at once, break it up into smaller chunks of time throughout the day. For example, you could do three ten-minute walks throughout the day.
In addition to aerobic exercise, it’s also important to do some strength-training exercises a few times per week.
Strength training not only helps improve your physical health, but it can also help increase your cognitive function and reduce brain fog.
Examples of strength-training exercises include lifting weights, using resistance bands, and doing body-weight exercises such as pushups and squats.
If you’re not sure how to get started with strength training, we recommend consulting with a certified personal trainer for guidance.
3) Eat balanced and brain-friendly meals.
What you eat has a direct impact on your cognitive function. Eating a healthy diet that’s rich in whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and healthy fats can help improve your memory, concentration, and immune system and reduce brain fog.
On the other hand, eating processed foods, sugary foods, and unhealthy fats can lead to inflammation and impair cognitive function.
So, if you want to keep your brain healthy and combat brain fog, it’s important to eat a balanced diet that includes plenty of fresh, whole foods.
Here are a few specific things to include in your diet:
Omega-three fatty acids: These healthy fats can be found in salmon, walnuts, and flaxseeds.
Antioxidant-rich foods: Blueberries, dark chocolate, and green tea are all excellent sources of antioxidants.
B vitamins: B vitamins are found in leafy greens, legumes, nuts, and seeds.
Vitamin E: This vitamin is found in avocados, olive oil, and dark leafy greens.
In addition to eating brain-friendly foods, it’s also important to avoid or limit certain foods and drinks that can trigger brain fog.
For example, alcohol can interfere with sleep and lead to dehydration, both of which can contribute to brain fog. So, if you drink alcohol, be sure to do so in moderation.
Additionally, many processed foods and sugary foods can cause inflammation, which has been linked to cognitive decline. So, it’s best to avoid or limit these types of foods as well.
If you’re not sure how to eat a brain-friendly diet, we recommend talking to a registered dietitian for guidance.
Dietitians who specialize in nutrition can help you create an effective eating plan that is suited to your specific requirements.
4) Rehydrate often
Dehydration can cause a number of symptoms, including brain fog. So, it’s important to make sure you’re drinking enough fluids throughout the day.
The best way to stay hydrated is to drink water regularly throughout the day. Other good options include unsweetened tea, sparkling water, and 100% fruit juice.
It’s also important to avoid sugary drinks, caffeine, and alcohol, as these can lead to dehydration.
If you’re not sure how much water you should be drinking, a good rule of thumb is to drink eight ounces of water every hour.
Additionally, you can check your urine color to make sure you’re staying hydrated. If your urine is dark yellow or brown, it’s a sign that you need to drink more fluids.
If you find it difficult to drink enough water throughout the day, there are a few things you can do to make it easier.
For example, you could carry a water bottle with you so that you always have water handy, or you could set a reminder on your phone to drink water every hour.
You could also try flavor-infusing your water with fresh fruits and herbs to make it more enjoyable to drink.
Whatever method you choose, the important thing is that you find a way to stay hydrated throughout the day.
5) Consider taking dietary supplements that support the brain
A few nutritional supplements have been shown to help improve cognitive function and reduce brain fog.
For example, omega-three fatty acids, B vitamins, and vitamin E have all been linked to better mental health.
Additionally, Ginkgo Biloba and ashwagandha are two herbs that have traditionally been used to improve memory and cognitive function.
If you’re interested in taking dietary supplements, we recommend talking to a healthcare professional first.
They can help you choose the right supplements for your needs and make sure that they won’t interact with any medications you’re currently taking.
In addition, it’s important to remember that the FDA does not regulate dietary supplements, so it’s important to do your research and only purchase supplements from reputable brands.
We also recommend talking to a registered dietitian, as they can provide guidance on how to get the nutrients you need from food.
6) Manage your stress levels
Chronic stress can lead to a number of health problems in your central nervous system, including brain fog.
So, it’s crucial to find ways to manage your stress levels. There are a few different ways you can do this.
For example, you could try relaxation techniques such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises.
You could also try to get regular exercise, as this can help reduce stress levels.
Additionally, it’s important to make sure you’re getting enough sleep and taking breaks during the day.
If you find that your stress levels are still too high, we recommend talking to a healthcare professional.
They can help you identify the source of your stress and provide additional guidance on how to manage it.
7) Train your brain with fun games and activities
There are a few different games and activities that you can do to help improve your cognitive function and reduce brain fog.
For example, you could try playing memory games, doing puzzles, or learning a new language or a new skill.
You could also try using apps that are designed to help improve cognitive function, such as Neuro Nation, Peak, or Elevate.
Some popular brain-enhancing games include:
- Rubik’s cube
In addition, it’s important to remember that some games and activities may not be suitable for everyone, especially those with a medical condition.
For example, if you have a history of seizures, you should avoid games that involve flashing lights.
If you have any other health conditions, we recommend talking to a healthcare professional before starting any new games or activities.
8) Spend time in nature
Spending time in nature has been shown to have a number of benefits for the brain.
For example, it can help improve attention span, memory, and cognitive function.
It can also help reduce stress levels and improve mood.
So, if you’re looking for ways to combat brain fog, we recommend spending some time outside.
You could try going for a walk in the park, hiking, or even just spending time in your backyard.
Whatever you do, make sure you’re taking some time to enjoy the outdoors, and all that nature has to offer.
Brain fog can indeed be frustrating and debilitating, especially if you’re dealing with it daily.
It causes you to lose productivity at work, motivation, and mood for the things that you usually love. It may even impact your relationships negatively.
So, if you or anyone close to you is struggling with brain fog, we highly recommend trying some of these tips and seeing how they work for you.
And if you want to learn more about brain fog and how you can improve your cognitive function in the long run, check out these helpful resources.
Also, see what brain health advocates talk about in this online community.