Advertising
Advertising

Published on March 18, 2021

What Is Brain Fog: Why It Happens And How To Get Over It

What Is Brain Fog: Why It Happens And How To Get Over It

There’re several factors that can contribute to brain fog and for the purpose of this article, I will not be discussing one of those factors in particular (mental disorders) as it would become quite a lengthy article. Rather, I will be focusing on the average person in society and the challenges they (or you) may face with regards to brain fog, or simply put, a lack of mental clarity and focus.

Brain fog can come in many forms and often follows certain behaviors or circumstances that we humans find ourselves in such as lack of sleep (or low quality sleep), poor nutrition and hydration, stress, anxiety, and a number of other factors. Let’s dive into some of these in more detail!

Common Causes of Brain Fog

There’re 5 common causes of brain fog:

Lack of Sleep

One of the leading causes in my opinion, this also includes low quality sleep.

During sleep, the brain reorganizes and recharges itself, further it removes toxic waste byproducts which have accumulated throughout the day. This indicates and demonstrates that quality sleep can clear the brain (fog) and help maintain its normal functionality.

Poor Hydration

According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water.[1] This to me is a no-brainer (pun intended), and that one needs to drink water frequently in order to have high mental performance and clarity. The quality of water is also important, and I suggest natural spring water or alkaline water.

Poor Nutrition

The gut is often considered a second brain. Let’s keep this one simple in saying fast food and sugar is typically not going to yield mental clarity.

Advertising

Personally, I feel clearest when eating meals consisting of high quality protein such as salmon, steak, chicken, or in the case of a less meaty dish, I’ll load up on beans and leafy greens like spinach.

Lack of Exercise

According to Scientific America, exercise increases heart rate,[2] which pumps more oxygen to the brain. It also aids the release of hormones which provide an ideal environment for the growth of brain cells.

Additionally, exercise promotes brain plasticity by stimulating growth of new connections between cells in many important cortical areas of the brain.

Stress and Anxiety

Prolonged anxiety, stress, or panic attacks can cause your brain to release stress hormones on a regular basis. This can increase the frequency of symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and depression. Needless to say brain fog follows chronic, and even acute stress or anxiety.

How to Get Over Brain Fog

There’re several approaches I personally use to get rid of brain fog, some being simple tricks or hacks and others being lifestyle adjustments. I’ll briefly touch on a few in the below breakdown. Let’s start by examining the quick hacks and then get into the lifestyle changes.

It’s important to note that supplementation can help with achieving mental clarity. I have created YouTube videos and this article about nootropics. Nootropics are an excellent way to support a lifestyle that already is conducive to mental clarity. I recommend you have a read on my previous article about brain boosters.

One of the simplest ways I have been able to overcome brain fog is by organizing. Creating lists is a great approach to organizing ones thoughts and actions. I feel much more focused after a detailed ‘to do’ listhas been created.

Advertising

I go beyond simply listing items but I create a legend of importance of those items using symbols. I use a star to indicate priority, a square box to indicate a secondary task, and a circle for quick tasks in between. Essentially, as I get through my daily or weekly list, I place a check-mark next to the completed items, or further notes if required.

1. Clean Up the Diet

The gut is comprised of 100 million neurons which is the network of nerve cells lining the digestive tract. This vast network is so extensive that it is often referred to as the ‘second brain’. This gut region of the body is technically known as the enteric nervous system, this network of neurons can often be overlooked, however it contains more nerve cells than the spinal cord or peripheral nervous system.

Poor diet can lead to inflammation of the gut, which essentially means ‘second brain fog’. Inflammation is one of the leading causes of illness and disease, and is often associated to poor eating habits as well as lack of hydration. Simply put, clean up your diet and you’ll notice remarkable clarity.

I suggest applying Intermittent Fasting at least 3 days a week and see how you feel.

Some foods to consider that can help boost your brain are fatty fish, frozen blueberries (there is an added benefit of freezing blueberries to increase the anti-oxidant properties, so I suggest giving that a shot), turmeric, broccoli, pumpkin seeds, dark chocolate, and nuts (such as walnuts). Of course all of these should be taken in moderation.

2. Sleep Better

During sleep, your brain repairs and restores itself, much like the rest of your body and its DNA and cells.

Quality sleep gives an opportunity to reduce DNA damage accumulated in the brain during wakefulness. Much research around sleep and its effects on the brain has found there is a link between sleep, chromosome dynamics, neuronal activity, and DNA damage and repair with direct physiological relevance to the entire organism.[3] Getting to sleep earlier and following a healthy circadian rhythm with quality sleep and REM cycles is of the utmost importance.

Advertising

3. Exercise Often

One of the more obvious remedies is regular exercise. There’s more than just brain boosting benefits that come with exercise.

Exercising often can enlarge the areas of the brain associated with memory, task management, coordination, planning and inhibition (the anterior cingulate cortex and the supplementary motor area).[4]

What does that mean in simple terms? Less brain fog! Exercises impact in terms of enlargement means that the developed parts of the brain function faster and more efficiently. Additionally when you exercise, oxygen flow to these areas of the brain is very beneficial.

4. Reduce Anxiety with Meditation

Meditation has been proven to reduce anxiety and depression by returning one to a more harmoneous state.

Mindfulness meditation is a wonderful practice that you can adopt whereby you focus on being intensely aware of what you’re sensing and feeling in the moment, without interpretation or judgment.

Practicing mindfulness involves breathing methods, guided imagery, and other practices to relax the body and mind and help reduce stress.

Other meditation practices I suggest investigating are movement meditation, mantra meditation, transcendental meditation, and loving-kindness meditation. Personally, I have been practising meditation while in a float-tank (sensory deprivation tank), which allows me to clear the mind totally without any detraction from the senses.

Advertising

Maintaining Mental Clarity

Consistency is key when it comes to maintaining mental clarity. I suggest creating a routine or habit of practising good nutrition (with Intermittent Fasting incorporated), sleeping well, and getting regular exercise. If you need help on how to build a routine, check out this article: What Is a Routine? 9 Ways to Define a Routine That Works

After a routine has been established, you can start to experiment with nootropic supplements – and I suggest afterwards because until you have set your optimal routine, there’s no need to start supplementing for those added benefits.

Mental clarity won’t come over-night, so be prepared to commit to yourself and your own personal growth going forward!

Conclusion

Keeping the mind clear and functioning optimally is not as challenging as it may seem, and in fact as the fog dissipates, the new norm becomes mental clarity.

When the mind is clear, it can best guide and direct your daily life in the direction the is conducive to your highest potential.

I wish you all the best on your journey of mental clarity and encourage you to reach out with updates and progress! You can contact me across the various social media channels and tag me in your posts.

Featured photo credit: Sage Friedman via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Adam Evans

BioHacker, competitive athlete, researcher in many fields including health and fitness, science, philosophy, metaphysics, religion.

10 Natural Brain Boosters to Enhance Memory, Energy, and Focus 12 Healthy Brain Foods To Improve Your Concentration What Is Brain Fog: Why It Happens And How To Get Over It Understanding Intermittent Fasting Benefits Beyond Weight Loss A Simple Muscle Building Workout Routine to Increase Strength

Trending in Restore Energy

1 How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy 2 9 Best Energy Supplements To Fight Fatigue And Tiredness 3 23 Foods That Give You An Energy Boost Instantly 4 What Is Brain Fog: Why It Happens And How To Get Over It 5 How to Avoid Burnout and Improve Your Well-Being

Read Next

Advertising
Advertising
Advertising

Published on April 14, 2021

How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy

How To Relieve Stress And Restore Energy

You didn’t get to where you are in life without learning how to relieve stress along the way. But just because you’ve “been there, done that” doesn’t necessarily mean it is going to be easier this time around. Granted life experience will likely have taught you the old refrain, “this too shall pass” but that same life experience will also likely have taught you something about the active role you need to take to combat stress from time to time and how we could all stand to benefit from a stress-busting reboot.

I think we all know the dangerous side effects of too much stress in our lives. Stress is a major contributor to many poor health outcomes, such as diabetes, weight gain, hypertension, poor memory, and a whole host of mental health issues.[1] Therefore, how we manage the stress in our lives, needs to be revisited with a fresh and new perspective, in the same way, we need to clean out and freshen up our closet every so often.

Below are my top 10 strategies to relieve stress and restore energy with a fresh look at some old favorites that are guaranteed to help you self-optimize for health and happiness in body, mind, and spirit.

1. Compartmentalize—Prioritization on Steroids

People think of the compartmentalizing tactic in different ways, and there are negative associations with this term. However, when I suggest that you compartmentalize to manage your stress—or better yet, relieve stress—what I am referring to is the idea that you block out certain parts of your life that are distracting you from what you need to do in your daily life.

For example, you are at work but also have some extraordinary stress in your private life due to ailing parents with no siblings to share in the caretaking. Managing this alongside your own family and professional responsibilities, which were already heavy enough, places an enormous amount of stress on you.

When you compartmentalize, you put up mental blinders to help you focus on the task in front of you with the knowledge that managing your parent’s living and financial situation will be handled in due time after work hours.

Learning how to block out these different realms of your life will help you prioritize and manage the work that is in front of you.

2. Get Outside, It’s Like Therapy

Simply getting outside in the fresh air will automatically bring down your stress levels and restore some lost energy.[2] The research around this growing field known as ecotherapy is proving once again how powerful nature is and how we can improve our mental wellbeing along with our physical and spiritual health with time outdoors.[3]

When you are outside, you are more likely to have increased activity levels and will be exposing yourself to the mood-boosting sun, which helps our body create vitamin D. Research on vitamin D indicates that those who are vitamin D deficient may be more susceptible to inflammatory illness, depression and lowered resistance to stress, and more and more of us are becoming vitamin D deficient across the United States.[4]

Advertising

Spending as little as 10 minutes outside every day can be enough to improve mood, mental focus, and decrease blood pressure. Think of the increased concentration and improved efficiency you will get as a return on investment that yields way better growth on your aptitude and attitude for life.

3. Do an Organization Reboot

We all know the secret to success is largely due to organization or at least some form of it. I would argue that organization is a process. We build structures to organize information and life events based on our current demands. Over the course of your life, this will vary and probably increase as your life becomes more complicated, which will force you to innovate and change things up as you go.

What was enough in college or your first job out of college may not be enough at this point in your life. Furthermore, many, many systems can help us organize, and too many can detract from their intended benefits.

Assessing and weeding out the unnecessary systems or consolidating from the many to one might just be the answer.

Is a family calendar on Google more efficient than the calendar hanging in the kitchen? Don’t just assume that the answer will be in tech. Sometimes the old-fashioned pen and paper is more practical and might also serve as a better physical reminder—think of the whiteboard in the kitchen vs the hidden “to-do list” on your smartphone with reminders that consistently fail.

Another strategy for your organization reboot is an organization self-assessment. First, what it is that you need help organizing, and what the intended outcome is? Is it for communication purposes—to make sure that everyone is on the same page—or is it to help you process and think about the workload in front of you? Answering these 2 questions will help you move forward as you think about what makes the most sense for you, your family, or your team at work.

Another way to approach an organization reboot is to ask other people how they stay organized. This is especially helpful when taking on new responsibilities that might come with a job change or a new family dynamic.

I did this in a new position I recently took and by collecting data on how other people approached their work (think of the complex systems in public education), I was able to create “a best practice” that worked for me and that I could share with my colleagues. Something that could earn you some extra kudos is a bonus, especially when you are the new kid on the block.

4. Engage Your Creative Brain

When we engage the creative parts of ourself we tap into the part of our brain that releases dopamine, which has a naturally calming, therapeutic effect. Needless to say, this will almost immediately help us to relax and will lower our stress levels. One of the premises for which art therapy has been well established.

Advertising

In one study, in particular, it was found that after just 45 minutes of engaging with artistic materials, regardless of the level of production or artistic talent the person had, there was a notable decrease of cortisol in 75% of the participants.[5]

Music therapy is another form of creative art that can relieve stress and restore our energy.[6] Many of us use music to help us decompress or move into another part of our day or activity. Music also taps into this part of our brain that increases focus and can help us emulate the feeling or “vibe” we perceive in the music. As we know, upbeat music will help you feel more positive while slower music can help you feel more relaxed by easing some of the tension in your body.

There are tons of great playlists out there aimed at stress relief. The next time you are on your preferred music streaming service, test out a few and see which works for you. Needless to say, music is one of those things that we can have in the background while moving forward with other parts of our day.

Perhaps this is another area in need of a reboot that could enhance your stress relief routine.

5. Do You Need a Vacation or Weekend Away?

Vacation opportunities may not be as readily available as we would like. However, it doesn’t have to be a week in the tropics to feel the benefits of a short break from your everyday routine.

If we are optimizing our time with some of the above strategies, perhaps we might be able to sneak in that weekend getaway or even just a day trip with the family. Getting out of your everyday environment, especially when trying to build in some respite and relieve stress, can do wonders for our mind, body, and spirit.

We may love our homes, but they do represent the endless “to-do list” and remind us of all the things that contribute to our stress levels. Getting away from this environment where you can get outside and engage in some of your favorite activities with your favorite people will free your mind and your body.

Granted, COVID-19 has definitely hindered our road trip or vacation opportunities. However, with a little creativity, we can build in the little breaks that we need to relieve some stress, reconnect with the people who are important in our lives, and help us to feel ready for the next hurdle in front of us.

6. Meditation and Mindfulness, Make Them a Habit

Meditation and mindfulness can offer endless benefits to us emotionally and psychologically, which will naturally relieve stress. Many of those benefits include increased focus, relaxation, and a decrease in the mental clutter in your head.

Advertising

One of the biggest challenges with mediation or mindfulness is that to feel the impact, we need to practice it consistently, which takes discipline. The people who are most successful at integrating mediation and mindfulness into their self-care and stress relief routines are people who build it into their daily practices.

And as is true with many strategies, we don’t need to spend hours doing it. Just 5 or 10 minutes a day can make a difference, but we do need to make sure we are doing it.

Maybe there is a 5 or 10-minute window at the end or beginning of your day where you could fit this consistently? There are lots of great apps to help guide you through your mediation with music and visualization.

7. Fight Off “Aloneliness” and Find Your Alone Time

I read an article recently about “aloneliness,” which is the opposite of loneliness. As an introvert, I have always been that person who replenishes her energy from time alone but never quite thought about the craving as a likening to loneliness for the introvert.

The benefits of alone time are science-backed and include those things that many times go out the window when we are stressed and overwhelmed—things like creativity, mental strength, and productivity. The COVID-19 pandemic has left many people without the opportunity to have their alone time, which could be another reason that you are feeling more stressed and less able to deal with your daily challenges.

You might need to be strategic, but you could build some alone time into your life with a walk outside to get lunch for example, which will also be incorporating strategy #2 on this list.

8. Find Balance in Your Life

Stress can turn our lives upside down and throw everything off-kilter. Finding your equilibrium, getting your bearings straight, and finding the balance in your life between the many demands of family, partner, work, and friends is essential.

If you are feeling increased stress, take a look at the demands around you and make sure that there is a balance between the different parts of your life—in particular, the areas where you find more nourishment for the soul.

Incorporating the well-known life coaching strategy “life wheel” is a great way to think about the different parts of your life to ensure that you are giving all areas the time and attention that they need.

Advertising

9. Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene

It’s no secret that sleep can be your best friend or public enemy number one. As the saying goes, “what a difference a day can make” is in large part due to a restful night’s sleep. However, when we are stressed, sleep is one of the first things to get out of whack.

If you are going through a period of high stress, you are likely feeling an increase in outside or family demands. Finding the time to fit it all in may naturally creep into your sleeping hours or, on the other hand, the stress might keep you from being able to get a restful night’s sleep. Either of these two scenarios is a case where it might be good to take a look at your sleep routine and force you to be a little more protective of it.

Some of my go-to tips and strategies around maintaining healthy sleep hygiene are:[7]

  1. Plan ahead
  2. Maintain your physical activity
  3. Limit alcohol
  4. Sleep in a cooler environment
  5. Get plenty of fresh air

So, before you get to thinking that you can sleep “later,” remember that healthy people and well-balanced lives have a healthy amount of sleep in their lives.

10. Animal Love

There’s tons of research out there about the benefits of having a pet, in particular, a dog or a cat. Taking care of a pet or any member of the animal kingdom can have such a positive impact on our mood and psychological well-being that our brain releases a hormone known as oxytocin, dubbed the love hormone.

We get this hormone from other nurturing (human) relationships as well, but we cannot underestimate the impact this can have on us when we care for and connect with one of our four-legged buddies. A case in point is the fact that many pet owners report feeling a connection to their pet that rivals that of any significant human connection and, in some cases, can even be more significant than a human-to-human connection.[8]

Additionally, having a pet will likely promote other healthy habits. Some of which I spoke about above, such as being outside more often and increasing your physical activity. On a social level, connecting with friends and neighbors about your pet creates a shared connection—another protective factor in the fight against stress.

Botton Line

Modern life places many demands on us which hits us in different ways during different periods of our lives. Maintaining our physical, mental, and spiritual well-being requires a fresh and renewed approach every so often.

If you take the time today—to take care of yourself for tomorrow by revamping the old worn-out items in your self-care toolbox—you will reap the benefits 20 fold! Learning how to relieve stress from our life is a process that we will need to revisit time and time again, each time getting better and better.

More Tips on How to Cope With Stress

Featured photo credit: Candice Picard via unsplash.com

Reference

Read Next