If you’re easily distracted, have trouble focusing, find it difficult to follow conversations, and/or just generally feel ‘out of it’, you might be suffering from a condition called brain fog. Brain fog can be caused by stress and sleep deprivation, as a side effect from certain medications, or it can be the symptom of a more serious underlying medical condition. This post has everything you need to know, including 8 natural brain fog memories to help you feel more alert and energized.
What Is Brain Fog?
Also referred to as ‘mental fatigue’, brain fog isn’t a medical diagnosis in and of itself. It’s usually a symptom of being overtired, overworked, and/or overstressed, and can also be the symptom of an underlying hormonal imbalance or medical condition. Brain fog causes a lack of focus and mental clarity, as well as memory problems. People with brain fog tend to feel sluggish, find it more difficult to get going, have trouble recalling information and focusing on tasks and conversations, and find multitasking challenging.
What Are the Symptoms of Brain Fog?
- Feeling fatigued and ‘spacey’
- Easily distracted
- Inability to focus/concentrate
- Trouble following conversations
- Difficulty recalling information
- Inability to multitask
What Causes Brain Fog?
There are many causes of brain fog including, but not limited to:
- Sleep deprivation
- Mental health challenges, including anxiety and depression
- Nutritional deficiencies (i.e. B12 deficiency)
- Side effects from medication
- Hormonal changes and conditions, including perimenopause and thyroid disorders
- Viral infections
- Medical conditions such as anemia, diabetes, lupus, and multiple sclerosis
8 Brain Fog Remedies that Work
1. TREAT UNDERLYING MEDICAL CONDITIONS
If you’re on the hunt for brain fog remedies, a good first step is to treat the root cause. Book an appointment with your doctor to determine if you have any underlying medical conditions, nutritional deficiencies, etc., that may be causing you to experience brain fog and/or if your symptoms could be due to side effects from any medications you are taking. Once you have a clearer picture on what may be causing you to experience brain fog, you can come up with an action plan to help improve your symptoms.
2. CLEAN UP YOUR DIET
A diet low in iron, vitamin B12, magnesium, and/or omega-3 fatty acids can all cause symptoms of brain fog. Eating a diet high in sugars and refined carbs can also cause challenges due to sudden spikes and drops in your blood sugar. If you’re looking for brain fog remedies, keep a food journal for a few days. My Fitness Pal is a great app to use as it provides a breakdown of nutrients consumed, allowing you to identify areas for improvement. If you find you are consistently low on one or more nutrients, find ways to add these into your diet. See below for some ideas!
- Sources of iron: lean beef, chicken, turkey, oysters, dark leafy greens, beans and lentils, tofu, whole grains, fortified breakfast cereals.
- Sources of vitamin B12: organ meats, beef, sardines, tuna, trout, salmon, eggs, dairy products, fortified breakfast cereals.
- Sources of magnesium: salmon, halibut, mackerel, spinach, Swiss chard, edamame, tofu, pumpkin seeds, almonds, cashews, flax seeds, peanut butter, quinoa, fortified breakfast cereals.
- Sources of omega-3 fatty acids: salmon, mackerel, herring, sardines, anchovies, flax seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, cod liver oil.
3. GET 7-9 HOURS OF SLEEP EACH NIGHT
Sleep deprivation, sleep disturbances, and sleeping at the wrong time (i.e. during the day versus at night) can all have negative impacts on your health and wellbeing. Quality sleep is an essential part of your overall health, both physically and mentally, and ongoing sleep deprivation can lead to issues such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood sugar, anxiety, diabetes, stroke, weight gain, increased body fat, and brain fog.
Of course, there are many factors outside of our control that can make it really difficult to get a good night of sleep, including stress, anxiety, hormonal changes and imbalances, working evening shifts, sick children, etc. So even if you’re committed to improving the length and quality of your sleep, your body and daily schedule may not cooperate. If this sounds like you, give some of these tips a try:
- Stick to a Regular Sleep Schedule. A regular sleep schedule is key to a good night’s sleep. If you tend to always go to bed at different times, this can really mess up your sleep cycle. Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day, including weekends. Some people like to sleep in later on the weekends, but doing that can make insomnia worse.
- Don’t Drink Caffeine in the Afternoon. Drinking caffeine after 2 pm can seriously interfere with your sleep cycle. Although everyone reacts differently to the effects of caffeine, it’s generally best not to drink it at least 6 hours before you sleep, and even more if you struggle with insomnia. Try to limit coffee consumption to the morning if you can, or cut it out completely.
- Create a Bedtime Routine. Having the same routine every night before you go to sleep can help calm your mind, relax your body, and condition yourself to realize it’s time to go to sleep. This routine can be 15 minutes to an hour – whatever works best for you – but be consistent with it every night. Find a routine that works for you whether that includes taking a warm bath, stretching, writing in a gratitude journal, reading, writing down your to-do list or goals, or anything else that feels good.
THIS POST has more great tips for those who struggle to fall asleep – and stay asleep!
4. STAY PHYSICALLY ACTIVE
Regular exercise is important for both your physical and mental health. It helps you burn fat and calories and maintain a healthy weight, releases feel-good endorphins to boost your mood and help you manage feelings of stress, anxiety, and depression, decreases cortisol (the stress hormone), and it’s a great way to improve the quality of your sleep each night. With that said, too much cardio can backfire on you. Overtraining causes an increase in cortisol, which can do the exact opposite of what you’re trying to achieve. If you’re looking for natural braid fog remedies, stick to mild and moderate exercises like walking, jogging, cycling, and swimming.
5. HAVE FUN WITH WORKING MEMORY ACTIVITIES
Working memory is often referred to as our brain’s ‘Post-It Note’ as it helps us remember and process information simultaneously. We use our working memory to keep track of information until we need to use it. It helps us remember and perform multistep instructions, and plays a huge role in our ability to focus and concentrate on tasks. Unlike our long-term memory, which can hold unlimited amounts of information, our working memory can only hold so much before it becomes overloaded. This explains why we sometimes forget to pick up milk at the grocery store or fail to remember to stop at the dry-cleaner on the way home from work. Such bouts of forgetfulness are normal and something many people experience at some point, and typically isn’t something to be worried about.
With that said, brain fog can make it more difficult to remember and process information simultaneously. A great way to combat this is to find activities and games you enjoy that help improve your working memory. Here are a few recommendations:
- Brain puzzles. Different kinds of puzzles help strengthen different parts of your brain, from vocabulary, to problem-solving, to number sense and more. If you’re looking for working memory activities you can do independently, The Ultimate Brain Health Puzzle Book for Adults is a good one. It includes a mix of puzzles for adults, including crosswords, sudoku, cryptograms, and word searches.
- Memory games. Memory games are another great option if you’re looking for fun ways to boost your working memory, and I highly recommend the game Distraction. It’s equal parts hilarious and educational, and it’s suitable for ages 8 to adult, making it a great game to play with your kids/grandkids. Players take turns drawing number cards and must remember the growing sequence of numbers until a player pulls a ‘distraction card’. This person must then answer a silly question before reciting the sequence of numbers in the exact order they were drawn. It’s so much fun!
- How Many Differences Can You Find? Have you ever completed one of those activities at the back of magazines where 2 seemingly identical photos are presented, and you have to identify what the subtle differences between the 2 are? I always love doing these when I’m traveling, and you can buy complete books of these brain puzzles on Amazon! This Spot the Difference book for adults is a good one!
- [Electronic] Simon Says. If you enjoying playing electronic games, this portable Simon Says game is a great one to consider. To beat Simon in this game, players have to remember a pattern of colors and repeat it back to Simon in the correct order by pressing the colored buttons on the playset. The longer you play, the more complicated the patterns become!
6. STOP MULTITASKING
If brain fog is making it difficult for you to focus, concentrate, and remember things clearly, make sure to focus on only one task at a time. While we tend to wear our overwhelming, busy lives as a badge of honor, it’s often to the detriment to our physical and mental health. Take the pressure off of yourself (and your brain) and dedicate all of your energy to one thing. This will allow you to work through all of the steps required to complete the task from start to finish, giving you time to create checklists, set yourself reminders, etc. to ensure it is completed correctly and on time. This will stimulate your brain and improve your executive functioning skills, and it will give your confidence a boost in the process!
7. SWITCH THINGS UP
Another simple thing you can do if you’re looking for brain fog remedies is to find little ways to switch things up each day. Drive a different route to work, try a new hairstyle or makeup look, take up a new hobby, try to learn a TikTok dance…there are tons of options to consider! Doing something different and out of the ordinary can help increase the production of a brain chemical called norepinephrine, which stimulates the brain and helps keep brain fog at bay.
If you’re looking for brain fog remedies, my final tip is to schedule a little daily mediation into your nighttime routine. It’s a great way to reduce stress and help your body relax, and it also enhances melatonin levels and helps your brain achieve a sleepy state. It will be easier to fall asleep and you’ll wake up feeling more energized and alert.
Whether you’re suffering from brain fog due to stress and anxiety, lack of sleep, as a side effect from certain medications, or because of a more serious health condition, I hope these brain fog remedies help you feel more alert and energized!