Given that 100 percent of the things we do on a daily basis involve our brains, constant brain fog can feel like one of the most debilitating health issues you can have. A surprising number of people get by despite it, but they’re probably not working or socializing to the best of their abilities. This problem can start to feel normal when you’re dealing with it all the time, but addressing it can really turn your life around. Once your mind is working better, after all, everything else will be.
What exactly is brain fog, though? “It can feel like you are out of it, like when haven’t slept, and just not being able to focus,” pediatrician Alison Mitzner, MD tells Bustle. “Some may be confused or forgetful.” In other words, your mind is just not totally there.
The way you treat brain fog depends on the cause, but a healthy diet, sleep, and de-stressing are all probably good bets, says Mitzner. To figure out what solution is right for you, talk to a doctor or therapist and get to the bottom of your brain fog. If you’re trying to figure out why you just can’t seem to think straight, here are a few possibilities you may want to explore.
Bad posture isn’t just bad for your back. It can actually compress your lungs, preventing enough oxygen from getting to your brain, fitness coach Amanda Sterczyk, MA, CPT tells Bustle. When you’re sitting, pull your hips back, drop your shoulders, hold your head and neck back, and lift your whole body up as if there were a string from the top of your head down the rest of your body.
2Lack Of Movement
Your body requires movement to transport enough blood and oxygen to your brain, says Sterczyk. “‘Under-movement’ is similar to under-eating or under-breathing.” Make sure to get up every few hours if your job involves sitting down all day.
Therapist Julia Harper, PhD puts it this way: Our daily lives are full of “don’t wants,” whether they take the form of other people’s comments, our own thoughts, or just annoying sights and sounds, she tells Bustle. We usually don’t pay attention to these, but our brains do pick up on them, leading to unaddressed stress. “The net effect of the accumulation of that stress chemistry produced by big and little ‘don’t wants’ reacted to in obvious and hidden ways often results in illness, fatigue, confusion, and yes, what we often call brain fog,” says Harper. You can curb this effect by learning what tends to bother you and addressing it as it comes up.
Have you ever gotten no sleep but been filled with energy because you got to do something really exciting? Doing what you love can override many mental limitations. On the flip side, it’s hard to think when you have nothing interesting to think about. Intuitive business coach Amber-Lee Schneider, Founder of The Chakra Girl Collective, calls this “operating on a low vibration of your energy.”
You can raise your vibration and sharpen your focus by getting in touch with what you want and doing what you love. “Close your eyes, take a few deep breaths, and ask yourself, ‘What would feel amazing to focus on right now?’”, says Schneider. “I'll set my timer for five minutes then hop onto my favorite clothing shop's website and choose an outfit for an upcoming event, or pull out some pencil crayons and have at it! Once you get your fit of stimulation you're ready to close down the unnecessary browsers and get down to business.”
5Too Much Junk Food
In traditional Chinese medicine, there’s a concept called “dampness,” which includes tiredness, inability to digest, and brain fog, acupuncture physician Elizabeth Trattner, AP, tells Bustle. People often reach this state by eating sugary, fried, or processed food. Limit your intake of junk food and sweets and see if your brain fog improves.
This doesn’t mean that if your brain’s in a fog, you’re pregnant. But if you’re already pregnant, that could be why you’re so foggyheaded. “Pregnancy brain” is a real thing, says Mitzner, largely due to the hormonal changes happening. “Some moms feel less mentally clear or in a fog or just forgetful,” she says.
Pregnancy brain can actually last after you give birth. This can be due to “different reasons including change in hormones, usually stress hormones (increased cortisol), lack of sleep, diet changes, often lower iron, multitasking, and also just as you are preoccupied learning so much new information with a new baby,” says Mitzner. Don’t be afraid to ask for the help you need to get through pregnancy, childbirth, and new parenthood.
If you can’t figure out why you’re experiencing foggyheadedness, talk to your doctor about potential causes and treatments.