Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on
September 30, 2021
Written by Dr. Inez Van Roy on:

Medically Reviewed by our Medical Affairs Team

You know when you are in that zone where nothing can stop you, and everything goes right? That feeling in which any problem in the world could be solved. When people talk about being “in the zone” they are usually referring to this experience of intense focus and concentration. 

We all have days where we feel as if our minds are cloudy or foggy, but don’t worry! Mental clarity doesn’t happen overnight. Think of it as a journey in which you have to take small steps every day.

In this article, we will provide you with a list of simple techniques and tricks that can help you to get clarity in your thoughts, emotions, and mind. We will also discuss some of the common causes of brain fog or a lack of mental clarity. 

What does mental clarity mean?

Mental clarity is the opposite of mental fog or brain fog. It is a state of being completely alert and focused. Mental clarity is a state of mental sharpness. 

It can also be referred to as being “in the zone”.

When people talk about mental clarity, they are usually referring to intense focus and concentration. Sometimes they might refer to a heightened state of awareness where everything seems clear in your mind.

Being mentally sharp means you have an abundance of energy available for use during work or play. You feel like nothing is out of your grasp. Mental clarity is a powerful feeling. It can have a huge impact on the quality of our lives if we learn to maintain this mental sharpness as much as possible.

If you are reading this article then chances are that at some point in time you have experienced both cloudy and clear days. While it is better to have mental clarity over the fog, it isn’t as simple as choosing which mentality we want and sticking with it.  It takes work and prioritizing yourself, your health, and your needs.

What is poor mental clarity or brain fog?

Poor mental clarity, brain fog, mental fog are words we could use to describe the feeling of haze in our brain. This haze can make you feel unmotivated, unfocused, and generally slow in thought. 

Brain fog is probably the most common symptom of poor mental clarity. It can vary from person to person. Brain fog usually includes feeling sluggish, forgetful, or distracted when trying to do simple tasks like work on a project at home.

If you experience periods during the day when you struggle to concentrate then this is a sign that brain fog might be present.

Symptoms that describe brain fog are the following:

  • Feelings of confusion
  • Forgetfulness 
  • Slow thinking or processing information. 
  • Poor memory recall. 

A lack of mental clarity is sometimes referred to in other ways, depending on the cause of this issue. Sometimes they call it “mommy brain”, “fibro fog” or “chemo fog”. These might all be terms to refer to a similar phenomenon. 

How do you know if you’re lacking mental clarity?

If you find yourself with difficulties concentrating then this is a telltale sign that mental clarity might be lacking. The inability to focus can come and go, but it’s something we should not ignore because if we do, the brain fog will only get worse!

Do any of these situations sound familiar? 

If your mind is full of fog and you are having trouble thinking clearly, it might impact your daily life. When the impact is so big that you can’t function on a social, academic, or work level, it might be time to search for help. When symptoms persist for a longer time, a doctor can provide medical advice.

What causes brain fog?

There can be various reasons for mental fog. The most common one is the lack of sleep. Other factors such as vitamin deficiency, stress, and mental health can also lead to poor concentration or memory loss.

Finding the cause of your brain fog is the first step towards treatment. While you can’t just think about your brain fog, you can start taking care of your overall health or go to the doctor to treat any underlying conditions. 

Dehydration

Dehydration is a big cause of brain fog, water accounts for a big part of our bodily volume. Logically, your body wouldn’t function well when you are not hydrating enough. Drinking enough water and rehydrating after physical exercise or sickness would be key.

Mild dehydration can already decline your mental clarity. Most children and the elderly are at risk of this. Dehydration doesn’t only impact your mental clarity, it could also impact your reaction time and mental health.

Vitamin Deficiency

These are the common vitamin deficiencies that most likely cause brain fog:

Vitamin B12 Levels

A lack of vitamin B12 is vital for a healthy nervous system and red blood cells. Without vitamin B12, and red blood cells, there is no way to transport oxygen properly.  Without oxygen in the brain, we can’t properly think or feel mental clarity.

People with Crohn’s or Celiac disease would be sensitive to deficiency. Vegans and vegetarians might also want to focus on taking supplements. Vitamin B12 is taken from animal products, but some supplements contain it as well.

Iron Deficiency

Iron helps our health and brain by protecting it and helping with oxygen production and transportation. A lack of iron might show mental fatigue and problems with attention and planning.

This describes what we associate with a lack of mental clarity. Iron deficiency is associated with eating little meat, losing a lot of blood or malabsorption.

Toxins

Toxins often refer to heavy metal exposure, such as:

  • Arsenic
  • Cadmium
  • Chromium
  • Lead
  • Mercury

The reality is that these toxins are used in our daily life, in agriculture or other industries. Research shows that neurotoxicity is more likely to be a problem for children and pregnant women.

A doctor can provide medical advice if this would be the case, although chances would probably be rather small.

Hormonal Changes 

Hormonal changes like menopause, pregnancy, or thyroid issues could cause brain fog or a lack of mental clarity. 

Menopause or perimenopause shows a decline in estrogen. Possibly making it more difficult to concentrate or keep your mental clarity. 

Other changes in hormonal change could be caused by pregnancy or premenstrual syndrome. Pregnant ladies even have a name for it: “mommy brain” or “pregnancy brain”.

The pregnancy brain could be caused by the hormonal change or the tiredness that young parents face. 

Lastly, an underactive thyroid or hypothyroidism could produce a hormone imbalance. This again could be the reason why your brain is so foggy.

(Chronic) Illness

Chronic illnesses such as lupus, diabetes, cancer, and so on could give you brain fog. When you suffer from a chronic disease your immune system might be fighting other things such as joint pain or cancer, or just trying to survive.

Your body is doing a great job, however you might just experience tiredness, a lack of concentration, or this mist or brain fog. Basically, it could have an influence on your cognitive capabilities.

Certain diseases like for example Alzheimer’s disease are also known for difficulties with memory and attention. Multiple Sclerose also faces certain consequences that have an impact on your mental clarity.

People with obesity could also suffer from brain fog or a lack of mental clarity. Some researchers believe it might be caused by focal brain inflammation. Obesity sufferers can also face other issues like heart attack, high blood pressure, or type II diabetes.

Last, but not least, long COVID-19 usually is described as a disease that gives you cold symptoms, lung symptoms or a loss of smell. However, it is also associated with difficulty concentrating and feeling fatigued (or in short brain fog).

Medication, Drugs, and Alcohol

A last thing that might have an impact on your mental clarity is medication. Certain medications like chemotherapy can have a strong impact on your body.

Other medications like antihistamine (allergy medication) could have sleepiness as a side-effect. The calming medication also could give you this foggy feeling.

Other mind-altering substances like drugs or alcohol could influence your concentration. Being intoxicated doesn’t help your brain function in the most optimal way. We could even say, it could be mind-altering.

Mental Illness or Stress

Stress or mental illness could have an influence on your mental state and your cognitive state. Stress, anxiety, depression could also change your neurotransmitters and your mental clarity.

ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is another common cause for brain fog. When you have ADHD, it might be harder to stay focused on certain tasks and follow a conversation at the same time.

Other symptoms of ADHD are easily distracted, forgetfulness, restlessness and impulsivity. In general ADHD is first diagnosed at a young age, today we notice that ADHD is not only for children.

Adults can still be diagnosed with ADHD, and children who had the ADHD diagnosis might not grow out of it.

Anxiety

Also, people who suffer from anxiety could also face issues like lack of mental clarity. Their thoughts and concentration could run wild and they might get more easily distracted. Usually, they also complain about worrying a lot and feeling a very high-stress level. 

Next to that, people with anxiety often feel on edge or tense due to stress/mental pressure.

Brain Injuries

Brain fog can also be a result of certain brain injuries like concussions, which may change the way your brain functions for good (or bad). Research has shown that people with chronic brain injuries often have problems concentrating on more than one thing at the same time. 

The most common one is when you suffer from concussions. It usually results in dizziness, confusion and headache. It might be involved with memory loss and concentration issues.

Sleep

Lastly, eight hours of sleep is recommended for all adults. Not getting enough sleep could influence your cognitive functioning and mental clarity. Sleep deprivation could also release more stress hormones, which have in turn an influence on your mental clarity. 

If you feel that these symptoms are interfering with your daily life then it’s time to take action! Sometimes we need help from a specialist or even medication to treat poor mental clarity.

You see, brain fog or a lack of mental clarity could have different causes. It isn’t just one thing that has an impact on your ability to concentrate or feel sharp at the moment. 

Why is mental clarity so important? 

Mental clarity is important because it helps you with daily life tasks. You need to be able to concentrate, remember things and have a good memory in order to do well at work or school. When confused you are also not able to handle stress very well.

Not only would you need mental clarity to follow a day-to-day conversation. You also need it to focus on deeper issues to obtain insights for your business or your occupation.

Some people would say that mental clarity has an indirect influence on our self-esteem. It might also influence our decision-making process. That’s very logical. If nothing is clouding your judgment or your mind, it is easier to use that energy for what is really important. 

How do I support mental clarity?

Here we will describe some interventions you can take to help yourself with improving your mental clarity.

Exercise

oth cardio and strength training could be beneficial for your mind as well as for the rest of your body. Being active boosts neuroplasticity. It is important when it comes time to learn new things or remember what you have learned before.

Exercise can boost your immune system and support cognitive functioning. 

Sleep

It is very important to get enough sleep. Eight hours of quality sleep every night without disturbance will help you wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day ahead.

When it comes down to mental clarity, one thing that has an influence on how sharp you are in the moment is your stress level. 

Distractions

One of the most important things to do if you suffer from mental fog is to reduce distractions. Distractions can be social media, television and other interruptions. They keep your mind busy with something else than what it should focus on at this moment in time.

If possible, try to schedule tasks like work or studying without any disturbances. Turn off notifications, use timers for full focus moments, or put your phone in a place where you can’t reach it. 

Meditation

This type of intervention has been shown to help people with anxiety and depression. Meditation is known for its ability to reduce stress, which could then have a positive influence on your mental clarity. Meditation could calm down your central nervous system and leave you with a focused and clear state.

Mindfulness usually is a part of meditation, it encourages a focus on the present moment and your own thoughts or your inner monologue. This could help you find focus and improve mental performance.

Yoga

If you find it difficult to exercise because of pain or other problems, yoga might be a good alternative. It usually is a combination of exercise, meditation, and breathwork. Being active and flexible could increase your mental clarity and reduce stress at the same time!

Food

What we eat has an influence on our body as well as on our brain. Foods high in antioxidants like blueberries have been shown to improve brain function. Healthy fats, like omega-3’s, are also associated with less mental fog, improved memory, and mental performance.

Many nutritional deficiencies could also impact your overall health and your brain and nervous system. Eating a complete diet has so many benefits. That is why we highly recommend focusing on eating enough fats, fibers, and protein as needed. 

Breathing

Deep breathing techniques could also have a positive influence on your mental clarity. Deep breathing is known for its ability to lower cortisol levels, which are associated with stress and anxiety.

Mental fatigue is usually associated with stress, so lowering stress could create mental clarity. 

Supplements

Fish oil or multivitamin supplements could be beneficial if taken correctly. The guidelines of these supplements should be printed on the packaging or on the bottle.

Be sure to follow this advice and be careful when you are pregnant or when you are taking any other medication. It could also be a great addition to your diet if you are vegan, vegetarian or have difficulty processing certain food groups.

Get in Nature

Spending time in nature could also help you boost your mental clarity. Just taking a walk or sitting down for some minutes near water or trees can be extremely beneficial to your mind and body.

It is a great way to escape from everyday life and improve your mental sharpness.

Hydrate

Drinking enough water can also help you feel more alert and focused. When we are dehydrated, our brain cannot work optimally because of low glucose levels caused by lack of hydration. This could result in mental fatigue or even headaches which obviously aren’t helping your mental clarity at all! 

Keep a List

Too many to-dos can clutter the mind.  Keep a to-do list at all times and cross items off as you complete them. If the list is long, focus on completing tasks one by one rather than trying to do everything at once.

Keeping it all in your head might stress you out and cause more brain fog. 

Go to the Doctor to Learn the Cause

A mental health specialist can consult you on the why, and what is happening with your body.  If you feel like something is wrong, it normally could be. You never know what might be causing your mental fog or how to treat it unless you consult a doctor.

Though these intervention

ns might not be a cure for mental clarity problems. They could certainly help to improve the symptoms and make your life easier! Also, if you think that there’s something more serious going on then don’t hesitate to visit a doctor! Remember though: it is always better to treat mental clarity problems before they interfere with your daily life.

What can you take for brain health?

Here we will list some of the supplements that people use to treat mental clarity problems.

Fish oil

This supplement helps with cognitive development and brain function. Fish oil has been shown to increase serotonin levels which could lead to better sleep patterns in depressed patients.

Multivitamin Tablets

People who don’t eat the right food or struggle with their diet might benefit from taking supplements. These can help you to prevent vitamin deficiencies, which could then have an influence on your mental clarity. 

Vitamins B12 and E

These vitamins are known for their ability to protect the brain from oxidative stress. They are often used to treat mental clarity problems in elderly people.  

Magnesium

People who suffer from low energy or have high stress levels might profit from taking this. Magnesium is known for its ability to improve serotonin levels in the brain which could be great for mental clarity problems. 

Vitamin C

This other antioxidant could provide your body with extra protection against cancer, heart disease, or others. A shortage of this vitamin could affect you. It could slow down the production of neurotransmitters or reduce their ability to function.

These supplements are often taken by people who suffer from anxiety, depression, or other mental clarity problems. If you think that there is something more serious going on then don’t hesitate to visit a doctor!

Remember though: it is always better to treat mental clarity problems before they interfere with your daily life.

Mental Clarity Medication

Sometimes, mental clarity problems are caused by a more serious issue. Is there something wrong with my brain? Mental clarity is becoming an issue. If those complaints are current, you should find a doctor and explain your situation!

There are many different kinds of medication that can influence our cognition and make us better at what we do. Here are the most commonly used drugs for mental clarity problems. These should not be taken without advice from a doctor.

Aniracetam

This drug was originally developed to treat Alzheimer’s disease. It is now also known as a nootropic agent which can improve memory and increase focus in healthy individuals. It works by modulating glutamate receptors which are responsible for communication between neurons.

Modafinil

This drug is used to treat people who suffer from narcolepsy and other sleep disorders. It helps you stay awake and alert by stimulating the production of histamine in your brain. This is a neurotransmitter associated with wakefulness.

Adderall

Adderall was originally designed to help children deal with ADHD. Today it is used by healthy people who are looking to boost their mental performance.

Adderall works by increasing the amount of dopamine and norepinephrine in your brain. This results in enhanced alertness.

These medications are prescription and shouldn’t be taken without advice from a doctor. Of course, there are many other drugs that can help with different kinds of problems.

If you feel like something more serious than only brain fog is going on, you should contact your doctor.

Finding the Right Treatment for Mental Clarity 

It is important to realize that mental clarity problems can be treated by both medication and natural methods. While it might seem like medication or supplement might seem the easiest solution, there are plenty of other interventions to try. 

Taking great care of your mental and physical health is the first step. You could do that by getting enough sleep, eating a complete and full diet, and exercising regularly.

Going out in nature could be a great way to ground yourself, other ways to relax your mind could be to meditate or include some yoga. 

If your lack of mental clarity could be caused by a chronic illness or a mental illness, it would be great to consult a doctor. One of the culprits you might suspect could be ADHD.

If you have been having doubts about your overall symptoms, you can go through this quiz to get more insights in your symptoms. 

If the fog is indeed caused by a chronic illness, a doctor can provide you with an adapted treatment plan or refer you to the specialist. If ADHD, anxiety, or another mental illness could be the cause. Specialists recommend a combination of medication and cognitive-behavioral therapy. 

If you have any more questions, feel free to leave a comment.

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