Not sure what brain fog is? Before continuing check out: What is Brain Fog During Menopause?
Tips To Manage Brain Fog
There are a few adjustments you can make to help manage the symptoms of brain fog, the general consensus is that the fitter you are, the better you will be able to cope with the changes that are happening in your body. Think good diet, regular exercise, good sleep patterns and social connections. You probably hear this a lot for many things, but we go into why exactly it can help with brain fog.
What you eat has a direct effect on the brain's energy supply and its ability to make happy chemicals such as dopamine and serotonin. These chemicals work differently, but they are associated with feelings of pleasure, motivation, satisfaction, focus, calmness and quality of sleep.
It is important therefore to ensure your brain cells have a regular supply of the right kind of energy through what you are eating. Sugar plays an important role and levels need to be kept steady, and eating a small amount of protein (meat or non-meat) at each meal has been shown to regulate blood sugars.
Consuming foods which are ultra-processed should be avoided as they have a negative impact on blood sugar levels. These are foods such as industrialised bread, ready meals, breakfast cereals, baked beans, tinned soups and meats such as sausages. Eating crisps, biscuits and cakes can give you a quick hit of energy but is often followed by a drop in blood sugar levels which can make you feel tired and foggy.
Omega 3 fatty acids are essential for nerve tissue growth and function and cannot be made by the body. These are important nutrients and can improve attention and memory.
Key Dietary Tips
- Eat protein-rich meals.
- Eat oily fish such as salmon, mackerel, sardines and herrings for omega 3, 3 times a week
- Eat flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, nuts and avocado for omega 3
- Avoid alcohol
- Avoid sugary drinks and snacks
- Avoid processed foods
- Eat mono-saturated fats found in avocado, nuts, seeds & olive oil.
Your brain requires oxygen and nutrients and physical activity will kick start this. If you’re sat for long periods of time, brain fog can strike and exercise can quickly clear it. Taking small breaks from work during your day and moving your body will keep your brain supplied with energy. An easy exercise to do whilst at work is to take a walk during your lunch break.
Have a regular exercise routine, which can be as simple as taking a walk after your evening meal, or before work in the morning - whatever fits in with your lifestyle. It doesn't need to be a hardcore 7 day per week exercise plan - anything will help.
Good sleep hygiene
Research suggests that a regular lack of sleep could take a considerable toll on the brain. Sleep is critical to cognitive function, and being sleep deprived can hinder learning, impair cognitive performance and can slow your reaction time. Inevitably, it can also accentuate symptoms of brain fog!
Sleep hygiene is a practice which incorporates creating an optimal environment and routine to aid sleep, and maintain a natural circadian rhythm.
- Turn off all gadgets, TVs etc by 8pm
- Ensure your bedroom is cool during the night – aim for 16 - 19°c
- Keep the bedroom tidy and dark, use black-out blinds or dark curtains
- Keep to a regular bedtime and get up at the same time 7 days a week
- Avoid stimulants such as caffeine, sugary drinks / snacks and energy drinks in the evenings
Try and manage your stress
Every time you experience brain fog, your stress levels increase and you’ll be less able to process things. Try and remain calm and wait until it passes, or say to yourself ‘I just need a minute, this will pass’.
Exercise your mind
Just like your body, your brain requires exercise too. Follow some of these simple tips to keep your brain engaged.
- Do a puzzle such as sudoku, wordle or a jigsaw
- Keep up with social engagements to get out of your daily routine
- Read a book or magazine
- Join an evening class or social group
- Pick up a new hobby which you know nothing about
The power of plants
Plants in your work space
Numerous studies have demonstrated a direct relationship between increased memory retention and attention span when plants are present. Working with multiple plants in the room allowed participants to work more efficiently, longer, and with superior working memory. It has been demonstrated that having indoor plants in a space increases productivity and memory retention by about 20%.
In comparison to our hunter-gatherer ancestors, the work we do now is quite sophisticated and needs a lot of brainpower. We must utilise direct attention, which is narrowly focused, time-consuming, and prone to deterioration. Our brains aren't designed to maintain this degree of focus for very long. When our brain is fatigued, we discover that we are less able to filter out distractions.
Plants can aid with brain fog, and while they won't be able to completely cure your stress-related problems, they can offer some comfort and perhaps even prevent them from getting worse.
Rosemary is said to stimulate circulation and blood flow which can prevent our rhythmic system from becoming sluggish. The intense aroma in the essential oils will work against fatigue and can help with clarity and improve memory. Try making a rosemary tea from fresh or dried leaves, or into a morning bath for a sense of awakening.
Anxiety can further worse brain fog. Research has shown that taking care of plants results in direct benefits, such as reducing the symptoms of chronic stress and anxiety, thereby reducing symptoms of brain fog. The process of caring for a live organism is contemplative and shifts our attention away from the stress-inducing difficulties and challenges. Additionally, being able to maintain a plant has been shown to be helpful for persons with self-image problems and has enormously favourable benefits on self-esteem.
More on this in our next article, Managing Anxiety.
Check out our other articles to get a full understanding of what the Menopause means for many women, and how you can support them: