Brain Fog: What to Do When it Happens to You
Have you found yourself struggling to concentrate on the matter at hand or more confused than normal about what’s going on in your life? Do you generally feel “out of it” and have a hard time remembering certain things or thinking clearly? Are you easily distracted, and do you find yourself needing more time to complete simple tasks?
If any of these symptoms resonate, you might be experiencing a condition called brain fog, which impacts millions of people around the world, including nearly one in four individuals who’ve had COVID-19.
What Is Brain Fog?
Generally speaking, brain fog — also known as derealization — is a term used to describe folks who are having a hard time thinking clearly and making quick decisions.
If you’ve ever felt a little scatterbrained or have had difficulty focusing on the present moment and making sense of it, you may have experienced brain fog.
While brain fog and dementia might sound a bit similar, they’re entirely different conditions. For many, brain fog is an annoying and undesirable condition that makes day-to-day living a bit harder. Dementia, on the other hand, is a debilitating condition that makes day-to-day living tremendously difficult, if not altogether impossible.
When someone pulls their hamstring, it’s very easy for a physician to diagnose what’s wrong. Unfortunately, brain fog is a bit more nebulous; the condition can affect a wide variety of people in a variety of ways and for many different reasons.
Some folks might experience brain fog profoundly, while others might find it more of an inconvenience and less of a devastating impairment, depending on the severity of their affliction.
What Causes Brain Fog?
At the end of the day, there are many different drivers that can cause individuals to begin experiencing brain fog:
- Pregnant women might have a hard time remembering things as their bodies are transformed by the baby they’re carrying.
- People who suffer from multiple sclerosis might experience brain fog as the disease essentially rewires the body.
- Certain kinds of drugs, chemotherapy in particular, can cause some individuals to come down with brain fog.
- Women, nonbinary individuals, and transgendered men going through menopause may find themselves struggling to remember things.
- Folks who are depressed may have a harder time thinking clearly as they are consumed by negative feelings and lose energy.
- Those who have a hard time sleeping may struggle to remember things and concentrate.
- People who’ve recovered from COVID-19 might have to deal with brain fog for as long as seven months after they get better.
- Those who are experiencing post-traumatic stress might find themselves dealing with brain fog and derealization.
As you can see, there’s no shortage of reasons why someone might be experiencing brain fog. Should you find yourself in such a position, the good news is that all hope is not lost, and this too shall pass.
What to Do About Brain Fog
If you’re struggling to think clearly and having a hard time concentrating, you very well may be experiencing derealization. Here’s what to do about it.
Recognize something’s not right
First things first: You can’t improve your health and wellbeing unless you admit that something’s amiss. Since you’re reading these words, it’s likely that you or someone you love might be dealing with brain fog. The first step is to accept that reality — and then figure out what you can do to overcome it.
Commit to improvement
After recognizing you may be dealing with brain fog, you need to then make a conscious effort to get better. Only then can you begin the process of healing.
Seek out professional help
While some self-motivated individuals might be able to deal with derealization on their own, others might need help from others.
In addition to talking about your condition with your friends and loved ones, and, if it persists or is impeding your normal life, with your medical provider, you might also want to consider reaching out to a therapist who can help you identify the root cause of your condition — and help you address it.
Tips for Overcoming Brain Fog
Whether you’re experiencing mild or severe brain fog, here are some tips that should help you start thinking clearly once again.
1. Focus on your sleep habits
According to recent data, some 70 percent of U.S. adults say they don’t get enough sleep at least once a month. Beyond that, 11 percent say that every single night they don’t get enough sleep.
Unfortunately — but perhaps unsurprisingly — poor sleep habits can have an adverse impact on quality of life. When you don’t sleep well, you can become more irritable and more stressed, which can translate into brain fog.
By making it a habit to get a good night’s sleep each night, you can begin fighting off brain fog — or, better yet, prevent it from occurring in the first place.
2. Optimize your brain health
One way to overcome a foggy brain is by taking proactive measures to improve your brain health, which starts with getting enough sleep.
But on top of that, you’ll want to drink enough water, stimulate your brain by taking up new hobbies, doing puzzles, and reading books, and do whatever you can to strike an optimal work-life balance that gives you more downtime.
3. Exercise more often
Another way to optimize your brain health is by making it a habit to exercise on a regular basis. Not only can this help you live a healthier life, it can also help you overcome brain fog.
For example, brain activity increases when you do aerobic exercises. When you’re running, adrenaline releases into the bloodstream and is sent to the brain, which can have a positive impact on your memory.
4. Improve your diet
There’s a reason we all know the saying you are what you eat: It’s true. If you’re struggling with derealization, consider improving your diet.
With that in mind, here are some diet tips you may want to look into:
- Eat luteolin-rich foods, like peppermint, sweet peppers, and artichokes.
- Embrace an anti-inflammatory diet by eating more fruits, vegetables, and seafood.
- Get your Vitamin C and folic acid fix by eating citrus fruits, kiwis, and leafy dark green vegetables.
- Take probiotics, which can be found in unsweetened yogurt and fermented foods as well as in supplement form.
- Drink coffee and green tea.
In addition to these tips, you may want to consider enlisting the help of a professional therapist who can help you start thinking clearly again. When you’re ready to get started, search for a therapist near you.
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