January Brain Fog?
This Is Why You’re Getting January Brain Fog (+ What To Do About It)
Do you ever have days where it’s hard to focus clearly on your thoughts and your brain feels a bit sluggish? You might be finding it harder than usual to concentrate and feel like your memory is playing tricks on you. This is sometimes referred to as ‘brain fog’. You might expect to feel like this from time to time if you’re temporarily lacking sleep, jetlagged, taking certain medications or are unwell. But for some of us, this brain fog seems to last longer than expected and starts to affect our daily lives.
‘Covid brain’ is that a thing? Yes, it is. There has been lots of evidence proving that many people have struggled with lingering ‘brain fog’ whilst having Covid and experiencing these symptoms for a number of weeks after they have recovered. These symptoms can often occur due to post-viral fatigue. However, in all these contexts and others, it’s also possible that there are emotional and social contributors to brain fog. For instance, it’s telling that many people who have not been infected by coronavirus have nonetheless reported feeling more tired and distracted than usual during the pandemic, perhaps because of the stress and demands of lockdowns and home working.
What is brain fog and why does it happen?
You might experience brain fog as difficulty concentrating, focusing or thinking clearly; as feeling “fuzzy” headed or having trouble recalling information or remembering things; slower reaction times; difficulty making decisions.
Brain fog isn’t a medical condition, but if it persists it may be a sign of a deeper issue and is worth following up with a health practitioner. It can be caused by a range of things from stress or a mood disorder, nutrient deficiencies, blood sugar or hormonal imbalances (menopause, hypothyroidism), food allergies or sensitivities, as a side effect of medications or other treatments, post-viral fatigue, an inflammatory condition or something as simple as too much or too little sleep.
But don’t worry, brain fog doesn’t have to last forever. Take a look at these effective strategies you can look into to clear the fog:
Sleep: Lack of sleep can lead to impaired brain functions, such as memory and focus. Memory consolidation, where your brain works to keep useful memories and get rid of unnecessary information, happens when you sleep. So, sleep deprivation means that your brain might be unable to perform this important task, leading to symptoms of brain fog. Aim for a good 7-8 hours of sleep per night to give your body and mind time to recuperate overnight. If you have difficulties sleeping, try drinking a small cup of caffeine-free tea after your dinner. Find a herbal blend that contains relaxing herbs like chamomile, oat straw and valerian.
Stress: It is no surprise that stress can lead to symptoms of brain fog. Long-term stress can lead to depression and headaches and can increase your risk of so many health issues. So, what can you do to reduce stress? Exercise is a proven way to improve brain health because it leads to improved flow of blood, oxygen and nutrients to your brain. All types of exercise that get the circulation moving and blood pumping are going to be good for you, but if you struggling to make time for classes or getting to the gym, just making time for a brisk walk in the fresh air – 40 minutes of walking a few times a week – has been heralded as the ideal amount of walking to help preserve memory and keep our brains in tip-top form.
Relaxation: It’s easy enough to download a meditation app and try to use it every day – if you haven’t already done this, then now is the time. There are plenty around that are free to use, or for a small monthly cost. Taking 10-15 mins out of your day to try meditation or mindfulness techniques can be really impactful to help your brain cope with the daily stressors we face, as well as help shift that foggy brain.
Mediterranean food – research has shown that the Mediterranean diet can improve memory, so try and plan your meals to include grilled fish, mixed fruits and vegetables, beans, nuts and unsaturated fats, such as olive oil.
Excercise – Indeed, exercise is a well-known mood-booster – aim for a moderate intensity that is fun but not overly arduous. Running, in particular, is fantastic way to optimise your mental function and clear the fog. Find what works for you, but any activity that you enjoy and that gets your heart pumping is likely to help clear that fuzzy-headed feeling.
Finally, it’s important to be patient with yourself. It can be hard to go through your days in a fog, struggling to complete even the simplest tasks, but it will get better!
Stay safe, do you and take care,
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