On the coattails of my trouble navigating fatigue, I have found myself now entering the world of brain fog. Inability to concentrate for longer than 20 minutes, constant forgetfulness, and feeling like I am living in a haze… this is what has been running my life as of late. Could this new brain fog and my lingering fatigue be related?
Textbook Brain Fog Symptoms
I first noticed a bit of brain fog starting to happen when I realized how much longer than usual it was taking me to finish a written piece. I find myself wandering off topic and googling non-sequitur topics, checking Instagram incessantly, or in the kitchen snacking for no reason. Basically, the process of any kind of thinking, understanding or even recollecting is not working the way it should be.
When you have brain fog, your memory goes down the drain. Normally, switching fluently between languages happens smoothly – but that seems to no longer be happening. Organization, problem-solving and planning seem inconceivable. It just seems impossible to focus and you feel perpetually exhausted.
What Causes Brain Fog?
There are loads of causes of brain fog. Delving a bit deeper into underlying causes, I realized that I am suffering from most of them.
Stress: Your brain becomes exhausted from being exposed to chronic stress. With high amounts of stress, your blood pressure increases, your immune system weakens and mental fatigue sets in.
Lack of sleep: We all know that when you do not get enough sleep, it is extremely difficult to concentrate. Same goes for poor quality sleep; poor sleep decreases glutathione (an anti-inflammatory antioxidant), thus leading to increased oxidative stress. It may be hard, but trying for a solid eight to nine hours really will help.
Diet: I know I blame everything on diet, but it’s usually a reliable culprit. You may be eating something you are sensitive or mildly allergic to without even knowing it. Even excessive eating of inflammatory foods (sugar, gluten and milk products) can wreak havoc. With all the gut and microbiome research findings arising lately, one thing is certain: the gut and the brain are linked. When there is an excess of toxins in your gut (most likely due to leaky gut syndrome), it can affect brain inflammation.
Hormonal Problems: Let’s start with the thyroid. Your thyroid receives messages from the brain through the hypothalamic pituitary thyroid axis. If your hypothalamus is inflamed (due to a thyroid hormone imbalance), it can cause a mess in the brain-thyroid axis. Adrenal fatigue, dysfunction in your brain-adrenal axis (HPA) – which causes an imbalance also in your immune system – can create brain fog.
Iron Deficiency: Your red blood cells are affected when you are anemic. Not enough oxygen is delivered to your organs and tissues by your red blood cells, which leaves you feeling mentally and physically tired.
Let me get real with you, Pretty Birds. Literally it took me a lifetime to even write this article because of my lack of concentration. I already know my diet is not where it should be, thanks to my visit to my nutritionist after feeling such low energy. Also my stress level is through the roof, because of a long list of unfortunate events. But in all honesty, I think it is something a bit deeper than just lifestyle causes, and I am determined to find out the reason. If you are feeling the same way- a persistent lack of clarity that doesn’t improve despite lifestyle changes – I strongly suggest you check in with your doctor.
Simple Tips to Fight Brain Fog
If you are looking to jump on some home remedies to get ahold of your brain fog, there are a few very simple tips to get you feeling a bit better.
Get in your good quality sleep. Try sleeping eight to nine hours.
Manage your stress. I know sometimes it is hard to get over your stress on your own. I find it helpful talking with someone to work through it and understand where your actual time and effort is really needed. Energy healing has made a tremendous improvement in my stress level, because otherwise I’ll bottle things up and never let them go.
A little exercise always makes you feel better, at times it may not feel like it while you are doing it, but a little effort goes a long way. Make sure it is something you enjoy.
Try understanding if anything you are eating is affecting your mood. I always love doing an elimination diet, because something that didn’t bother before can all of sudden have a different effect on your body. For the most part increasing healthy fats, protein fruits and vegetables is a good way to start.
Adaptogens are a great way to balance the immune system and give you the energy boost you need. I know I am always pushing adaptogens, but I have found Reishi and Astragalus has positive effects on my mood.
This article was originally published in December 2018.