“If the current projections are correct — wait, what was I saying, again?” If you have a nasty case of brain fog, embarrassing gaffes like this might seem all too familiar. What can you do to stay on top of your A-game, or at least, clear the haze?
While cloudy thinking can sometimes indicate a medical disorder, more often than not, making lifestyle changes can correct the problem. You might need to remedy a nutritional deficiency or get some more Zzz’s at night. Once you know how to beat brain fog, there’s no telling what you’ll accomplish with your increased pep and productivity.
1. Identify the Issue
If you don’t know the underlying cause of your brain fog, how can you solve it? The first step in restoring mental clarity involves taking an unbiased look at your habits. If you kick back with one too many night after night, for example, is it any wonder your mind doesn’t fire on all cylinders?
You expect a bit of fuzziness after a restless night, but prolonged insomnia can cause impairment as significantly as alcohol or drug use. Likewise, a diet of nothing but processed foods can deplete your body of vital nutrients your brain needs to focus. Other factors, like sluggish blood flow and excessive stress, can also create problems. Remember, you aren’t condemning yourself by identifying the issue — you’re bringing it into the open to resolve it.
2. Improve Your Diet
Have you ever received a diagnosis of clinical depression? If so, a lack of focus might constitute one of the criteria your doctor or psychiatrist identified. While you may need antidepressant therapy, if your diet is lacking, you could find significant relief through improving it. You will likely find that concentration becomes less burdensome once you have adequate nutrition. Look for deficiencies in the following substances in particular:
- Magnesium: This mineral has reversed depression symptoms in diagnosed patients who had an underlying lack.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: If your mother ever told you, “Fish is brain food,” she was right. Omega-3 fatty acids occur primarily in dishes like salmon, but vegans can also find them in chia and flax seeds.
- Folate: It isn’t only pregnant women who need a boost in this nutrient. Patients with a deficiency have only a 7% response rate to antidepressant therapy.
- Vitamin D: Known as the “sunshine vitamin,” your body can make this nutrient if you get outdoors enough without covering every inch in clothing or sunscreen. Studies associate spending time outdoors with improved concentration and focus. Coincidence?
3. Get Your Blood Flowing
If you ever experienced a breakthrough to a tricky problem when you went for a walk, there could be a physiological reason for your genius. When it comes to how to beat brain fog, you can’t go wrong with exercise. Getting your body moving delivers oxygen to your brain, which helps you to think more clearly.
These effects don’t dissipate once you step off the treadmill, either. Evidence shows that older adults tend to experience shrinkage in their hippocampus over time. That’s the part of your brain associated with memory and learning, and exercise keeps it a youthful size even as the years progress.
4. Build Breaks Into Your Day
When was the last time you wasted 30 minutes looking for an object that you “know” you put in a safe location? Over a third of all Americans have done so within the past week, so don’t feel ashamed. Do, however, boost your memory power by giving your brain the breaks it needs.
If your job requires significant mental power, you may feel like you’ll never get everything done if you relax too much. However, taking a break doesn’t need to mean idling in midday traffic. Do a 10-minute workout to squeeze in part of your daily exercise or tackle a mindless chore, like running the vacuum. This shift gives your brain downtime while your hands remain busy.
5. Get Some Shut-Eye
Going without adequate sleep is dangerous. According to AAA, sleeping less than five hours per night makes auto accidents four to five times more likely. That’s because you lose focus if you don’t get enough rest.
To improve your sleep hygiene, try the following tips:
- Reserve your bedroom for sleep and sex: Don’t take your work with you to bed, ever, unless you want to associate your pillow with penning product descriptions.
- Keep your laptop and phone elsewhere: The blue light from electronic devices can interfere with melatonin production, a vital sleep hormone.
- Try a melatonin supplement: While you should always check with your doctor before adding any supplement to your diet, many people report success by adding drops to their evening tea.
Learn How You Can Beat Brain Fog With These Tips
You can feel frustrated if your brain seems stuck in second gear. If you want to rev up your mental engines and learn how to beat brain fog naturally, try these tips.