I’ve been wanting to write a blog for ages but my brain wouldn’t let me connect pen to paper! They call it brain fog, a term that’s been used frequently over the last 18 months, but it really does exist.
So let me share with you what I know, how you can help it and to help you realise you’re not alone! I’m hoping that writing this blog will help clear my brain fog, as it’s been stressing me out that I haven’t written a blog for ages, oh the irony!
What is brain fog?
Brain fog describes a mental fuzziness or lack of clarity.
When dealing with it, you might experience:
- trouble putting thoughts together
- difficulty concentrating or remembering what you were doing – the amount of times I’ve walked into a room to get something and then I’ve completely forgotten why I’m there
- physical or mental exhaustion
- lack of motivation and interest in the things you’d usually do
- thoughts that seem hazy or difficult to grasp
While brain fog is pretty common, it’s not a condition on its own. But it can be a symptom of several issues — anxiety and stress among them, and we’ve all experienced more than enough of that over the last few years!
If your brain is a computer, ongoing anxiety and stress run in the background like computer programmes and use up tons of memory and make everything else run slowly.
Even if you don’t actively focus on anxious thoughts, they often still run in the background of your brain and might contribute to physical symptoms like uneasiness, stomach upset, or fatigue.
Anxiety-related brain fog doesn’t just make it hard to get things done. It can also give you another thing to feel anxious about, especially if it’s been happening for a while.
Identifying the causes of brain fog can help you figure out how to address it more effectively.
Temporary sources of stress — like a big project at work — can contribute to mental fatigue. Those causes are often fairly easy to identify.
Brain fog and mental fatigue can also be caused by conditions such as chronic fatigue syndrome, fibromyalgia, hormonal changes due to pregnancy/menopause, diabetes, arthritis, dehydration and depression.
But if you’ve been dealing with anxiety or stress for a while, you might have a harder time recognising what’s affecting you.
Here are some tips which may help you:
Sleep deprivation can make it difficult to think clearly during the day, regardless of whether or not you’re dealing with anxiety.
A night or two of less sleep than usual probably won’t have a long lasting impact, as long as you get enough sleep most nights.
But if you regularly don’t get enough sleep, you’ll likely start to notice some negative consequences, including irritability, daytime sleepiness and difficulty concentrating.
Caffeine can help you feel more alert temporarily, but it’s not a good permanent solution. Aiming for at least 7 hours of sleep every night is a good start, if you can. I know you’ve been told this a million times but it’s good to have a reminder now and again!
Stress and mental fatigue often happens when life becomes busier than normal and you’ve simply got too much to think about.
If you have so many responsibilities you don’t know how to manage them all, it may seem counterproductive — if not impossible — to take time to relax or enjoy a favorite hobby.
If you don’t make time for self-care and relaxation, though, you’ll just keep adding to your stress.
Try setting aside 30 minutes each day for a calming, enjoyable activity, like:
- spending time with loved ones
- phoning a friend
- reading a book
- dancing around your lounge like no one is watching, make sure they’re not!
Even if you only have 15 minutes to spare some days, spend that time doing something you love. This can give your brain a much-needed chance to recharge. We always say we don’t have time, but we can always make time. You can gain 15 minutes by doing any of the following; get out of bed 15 mins earlier or don’t switch on the TV or don’t look at your phone, it’s as simple as that.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus, sitting with your thoughts might not sound like the best thing to do, but this really does work! I was always dubious until I tried it. You can even do it when you’re walking, this is what I do as I find it hard to sit or lie still. When walking don’t be on your phone and don’t listen to music, just gather your thoughts for 5 mins.
Meditation can help you increase your awareness of physical and emotional experiences as they happen and regulate unwanted or challenging emotions.
To get started with meditation just do it for 5 mins a day:
- Choose a quiet, comfortable place to sit, lie down or do it when walking.
- Let all of your thoughts — positive or negative — rise up and pass you by.
- As thoughts come up, try not to judge them, cling to them, or push them away. Simply acknowledge them.
No need to follow any of the apps or online courses if you don’t want to as this can cause you added stress, just do this yourself, keep it simple. I promise you it works and will slow your thoughts down, this in turn will help with the brain fog.
We tend to suffer with brain fog when there is too much information flying around our brain. When you feel your brain fogging it’s your body’s way of telling you to stop. So stop what you are doing, move around, go for a quick walk outside or even just walk into another room where you live, meditate for five mins or choose one of the self-care activities above.
The important thing to remember is don’t ignore your brain fog, the worse it gets the more unproductive you will get. Do some self-care! It really does help xx