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!
Table of Contents
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.
According to H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158, the brain and heart are composed of 73% water. 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.
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.
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, 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.
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. Getting to sleep earlier and following a healthy circadian rhythm with quality sleep and REM cycles is of the utmost importance.
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).
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.
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!
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
|||^||USGS: The Water In You|
|||^||Scientific American: Sweaty Science: How Does Heart Rate Change with Exercise?|
|||^||Science Daily: Sleep tight! Researchers identify the beneficial role of sleep|
|||^||UCF Health: Lift the “Brain Fog” with Aerobic Exercise|