Many people experience a foggy or fuzzy feeling in their brain from time to time. But what if you suffer from chronic brain fog? Is it normal, and is there anything you can do about it?
Stress, lack of sleep, and genetics are responsible for causing brain fog. So if you’re experiencing your own version of brain fog, it’s likely nothing to be worried about.
And yet, not everyone does experience it in the same way.
Some people notice a change in their mood and alertness right away. They’ll feel happy and energetic. Other people may need help just to get their heads right.
Here are some tips to help you figure out what’s going on inside your mind.
Is your brain fog making you tired?
If your brain fog keeps you up at night, it’s probably not the result of tiredness, but a sign that your brain isn’t coping with everything that’s happening in your life.
To help your brain process information more efficiently, limit your screen time. Turn off notifications before you go to bed and after you wake up. You won’t wake up as quickly each night, which will reduce the
stress in your brain.
Collections of nasty emotions and stress hormones like cortisol can also increase your brain fog. It’s something to watch out for if you have a habit of procrastinating and checking your phone way before bed.
Your gut may not be telling the whole story on your side effects on your mood.
When it comes to digestion, our digestive system is weird. It’s not the one you’d find in America. In fact, you might think it’s not even human-made, at least not according to Eli Clare Whittingham and Lauren Beth Miller in “Why We Digest.”
Understanding the Digestive Process
Your intestines aren’t connected to your breast or any other part of your body; they’re completely separate, relying on a system of pumps to move waste around.
This means that whatever happens to the food you consume goes straight through the guts intact.
Many foods, including sugar and complex carbohydrates, pass right through your digestive system unhindered.
Foods that are calorie-dense are more likely to cause discomfort, bloating, and cramps. A lack of fibre can worsen constipation. This is by design- to make you “poop less.”
And the last thing you want when you’re experiencing brain fog, especially in the afternoon, is to become more irritable than usual because you’re tired. This will exacerbate your brain fog and you’ll likely crumble under the pressure.
If you still feel “off” or if you’re still struggling with how to respond to your life, it might be worth offering some pro tips to combat brain fog.
Your brain works very quickly
Brain fog is a common side effect of medications and is even more common among people with epilepsy. However, if you experience prolonged brain fog, it may warrant a visit to a doctor.
The feeling of brain fog is quite vague and can range from mild to severe. It’s often accompanied by a headache but may also include other physical complaints.
When I first started working from home, I remembered how rapidly my brain functioned. I could easily find my place in a crowded elevator or quickly remember answers to a test when they came up. However, a week of working from home, and a few months of practice on my own, began to change that.
The foggy sensation of brain fog is similar to that of feeling sick during the first days of a new medication. However, it seems to persist throughout the day almost no matter the routine. You’ll know something’s happening when you can’t remember the last few seconds of a conversation or understanding a diagram.
What’s causing your brain blockage?
While the cause of your brain fog may vary, the main effect is chemical stimulation of the brain. Essentially, our brains flood with a cocktail of chemical messengers, known as neurotransmitters (neurotransmitters are organic chemicals that transmit messages within the human nervous system).
During neurostimulation, the communication between nerve cells is blocked. This causes abnormal electrical activity in the brain. Your neurons, the cells in your brain, begin to fire at random intervals, and your brain loses awareness of your surroundings.
If the disruption continues long enough, neurotransmitters begin a chemical cascade or feedback loop that leads to a condition known as neurotoxicity (neurotoxicity is more of a scientific term and is just another word for brain damage).
Although brain damage is incredibly rare due to our unique brains, the truth of the matter is that just about any interruption to neurotransmitter levels can cause brain fog.
When my brain began leaking chemicals again, I knew what had to happen. Aside from consulting a doctor, I also made some changes to improve my mental clarity.
I stopped taking most medications, and cut out certain foods that overstimulated my brain. I stepped up my exposure to nature, went for a walk most mornings (I’ll admit, this was easier after my daily 20-minute walks in the park), and read more science-backed books.
While it’s no guarantee, it’s also important to periodically evaluate how you’re responding to these changes. Your brain and your mental health are connected.
When your neurotransmitters are out of balance, it’s impossible to focus and remember things clearly.
Stress plays an important role in what goes on in our brains. Our brains’ ability to learn and consolidate memories is greatly disrupted when we’re in stressful situations.
Stress triggers the release of glucocorticoids in the body and in the brain.Dr Vincent Iacobellis, MPH, director of neuroendocrinology at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City.
These hormones balance many bodily reactions, from heart rate variability (HRV) to changes in blood pressure and pulse, making it easy for our brains to function optimally.
However, when our brains are trying to deal with an overly stressful situation, that’s when these hormones don’t work as well, and our cognitive functions suffer. Our processing power goes down, and we lose our ability to focus, synthesize new ideas and remember the details of what happened in the past.
Finding the Brain Fog Busters
Fortunately, the number of good, healthy brain-fog-busters is increasing.
Our understanding is that lifestyle factors such as diet, exercise, stress reduction, sleep and emotional health can all play a role in promoting recovery from disease and disease prevention to help prevent cognitive declines in older adults.Vincent Iacobellis
Here’s what our best brain-fog-busters are, how to get them and how to reverse their negative effects.
- Try Gut-Friendly Protein
Research shows consuming probiotic-rich foods like yogurt and sauerkraut may help improve mood while promoting gut cellular activity.
- Drink Happy Hay
A fermented milk drink can improve mood, plus it’s packed with gut-friendly probiotics.
- Get good-quality Sleep
A lack of sleep can have a ripple effect on the brain, making it harder to consolidate memories, learn new information and integrate sensory information. Aim to go to bed at least seven hours before the recommended bedtime, that way, you’ll be more alert and have clearer memories at night.
- Breathe and Relax your preconceptions
Performing brain exercises, many of which tune into the parasympathetic branch of the nervous system, helps ease brain fog. To do so, close your eyes, and try to envision the best state possible. Think of yourself flowing gently through your environment, or imagine losing weight while breathing in. You can also focus on positive feelings like excitement, lightheadedness or rhythm.
- Enjoy the Chocolate Flavour
If you’re living with brain fog, it’s likely you’re sometimes picky about how you chew, and how fast you swallow. New research shows some sweet treats may help combat brain fog, which is great news because there’s a scientific consensus that high blood glucose levels are a major brain fog trigger.
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