Safe to say we’re all feeling more than a bit overwhelmed with the state of the world right now. And that can lead to some fuzzy-brain moments, says Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and the director of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic. “It’s tempting to think that brain fog won’t happen until you’re much older, but I see it in so many patients at every age—and stress is a known trigger,” she says.
What Is Brain Fog Syndrome?
Brain fog is characterized by confusion, forgetfulness, and a lack of focus and mental clarity. This can be caused by overworking, lack of sleep, stress, and spending too much time on the computer. On a cellular level, brain fog is believed to be caused by high levels inflammation and changes to hormones that determine your mood, energy and focus. The imbalanced levels of hormones make the whole system to be thrown off. Also, brain fog syndrome can lead to other conditions such as obesity, abnormal menstruation, and diabetes mellitus.
Brain fog is a term that describes a feeling of absentmindedness or a lack of sharpness or focus. Stress is a known trigger for brain fog, and it can affect people of all ages. Being frazzled creates toxins that can build up in the brain and impact the ability to focus, concentrate, and remember multiple things. The symptoms of brain fog include being more forgetful than usual, sluggishness when trying to remember things, and difficulty focusing. Some of the causes of brain fog include infections, poor sleep, hormonal changes, poor nutrition, and certain medications.
Improve your sleep habits.
Sure, a bad night’s sleep here and there isn’t necessarily going to leave you sluggish the next day, but if your overall sleep patterns aren’t optimal, your brain won’t be at its best. “Poor sleep habits can hit us in two ways, increasing our stress levels and disrupting the brain’s opportunity to rest and recover,” says Bridges. “This can come from having an inconsistent sleep schedule, not sleeping soundly, or waking up in the middle of the night—all of which can give you transitory brain fog.”
What causes brain fog?
So, what’s causing the blockage of information? Well, there’s no definitive answer. One idea is that your body’s immune system response could cause inflammation in your brain. When inflammation occurs, this could cause a temporary blockage in processing information. Brain fog can also be caused by chronic stress, hormonal changes or blood sugar imbalances.
Try new challenges
While many of us have been at our wit’s end during the past few years, we can do something for our brains that’s good for cognition at any time: learn new things.
During the pandemic, I began learning to speak Greek in anticipation of future travel there. It was certainly a cognitive challenge—one that was fun and, hopefully, will help stave off dementia (which happens to run in my family). You probably know people who’ve used lockdown restrictions as an opportunity to learn to play a new instrument, write poems or stories, study their history, or build furniture.
Easy Ways To Boost Your Physical Activity
Walk around. Walking is one of the best exercises for your brain. That’s why you often hear suggestions like “take a walk around the block” when you have a mental block. Walking helps increase the glucose and oxygen flowing to the brain, which in turn stimulates brain cell formation. Just taking a quick walk can help clear your unwanted brain fog.
Your brain needs a variety of nutrients to function properly, including vitamins B12, D, and E, as well as omega-3 fatty acids. If you’re not getting enough of these nutrients, it can lead to brain fog and other cognitive symptoms. Eating a healthy diet that includes a variety of fruits, vegetables, and whole grains can help ensure you’re getting the nutrients your brain needs.
How to Improve Concentration With Ease
As time goes on, more treatment options will become available, but at a minimum, trying what one can to improve concentration is better than doing nothing.
In the meantime, whether you’re dealing with COVID-19 brain fog or another cause of brain fog, giving yourself time can help. Additionally, a willingness to try various methods and treatments can also help you find a solution sooner.
Inflammatory causes of brain fog
Many conditions that can cause brain fog are inflammatory conditions.
There are different types of inflammation. Chronic inflammation is caused by an out-of-balance immune system and can affect any part of the body in different ways.
This inflammation can affect the heart and its vessels, the gut and its biome, the liver, as well as the brain’s neurons and cognition. Low-grade inflammation can also occur in a specific organ or tissue, including brain tissue.
How do you get rid of brain fog?
Focusing on lifestyle changes like eating a balanced, healthy diet, getting enough sleep, doing regular exercise, and prioritizing self-care can help reduce stress and improve your overall mental state.
Activities such as yoga, meditation, practicing mindfulness, and stretching are all useful tools that can help self-soothe and ground you.
What can you do to clear the fog?
Brain fog treatment will often depend on the root cause, but there are some things you can do at home to keep your mind sharp and more alert. These include:
Participating in activities that increase alertness, energy and brain health/power, such as regular physical activity and meditation or trying activities like crosswords and Sudoku or working on a puzzle.
Getting plenty of sleep.
Eating a healthy diet rich in fruits, vegetables and healthy fats and whole grains.