Written by Vicky Theodoropoulos
“Beyond the very extreme of fatigue and distress, we may find amounts of ease and power we never dreamed ourselves to own; sources of strength never taxed at all because we never push through the obstruction” (William James)
Do you feel you are caught in the thickness of mental fatigue, decreased focus, alertness, and word retrieval, yet can’t seem to escape? This cognitive impairment is classified as ‘brain fog’, a condition that regularly happens to individuals who present with chronic depression and anxiety. According to Chinese philosopher Laozi, humans are depressed because we have numerous attachments, resentment, guilt from the past and cannot seem to let it go. Humans are anxious because our mind is constantly racing about future thoughts (e.g. what I need to do tomorrow, what-if scenarios) affecting mental clarity and inner peace. To achieve inner peace, we must live in the present moment. ‘Just Live Today’ as if it was our last.
What is Brain fog?
A shift in the body’s chemistry causes a lack of mental clarity, reduced fatigue, and impaired decision-making that can last for hours, days, or even longer. It occurs to most individuals at any moment throughout the day affecting work, home life, and school. No matter what attempt you make to snap yourself out of this funk, you feel sluggish and fuzzy. You may exert all your energy trying to maintain on-task yet fail because a stronger wave of fog appears leaving you hopeless and powerless.
Causes of Brain Fog:
-lack of sleep
– chronic stress
– chronic depression
How does it feel?
The feeling may vary from person to person depending on the degree of fogginess. Any symptoms associated with brain fog make you feel drained as if you are on a 5% battery, depleted of all your energy yet the day has just begun. Now you may wonder how can I function and complete my tasks at hand while consciously fighting my inner demons. Well, have you heard the phrase ‘fake it till you make it? That is what many of us do, but are unable to successfully reciprocate meaningful conversations, follow through accordingly, and ultimately lapse many important endeavors. Therefore, we are left back at square one dealing with the aftereffects of brain fog. We perceive the world as blurry, constantly rubbing our eyes thinking our eyesight is deteriorating, feeling increasingly frustrated. This constant battle with your mind affects your daily life, losing self-confidence and destroying self-esteem. You may begin to self-victimize and isolate yourself, leading to the belief that no one understands your pain. Don’t overthink and hold in your thoughts, it is time to be vocal because you will be surprised how many people can relate.
Symptoms of Brain Fog:
-feeling spacy or confused
– feeling fatigued
– thinking slowly than usual
– more distracted
– trouble organizing thoughts
-word finding difficulties
Make it STOP!!!
Are you aware it is happening, are you able to catch it right before it overpowers you? Diminishing brain fog requires self-awareness and the ability to take an objective look at our health, lifestyle, and our present moment choices. There are many ways to restore mental vitality and feed our brain the oxygen and nutrients it needs by shifting some minor changes in our lifestyle. “One of the kindest things you can do is be kind and patient with yourself. The greatest illusion is that life should be perfect.” (Charlie Mackesy)
How to get rid of brain fog:
Get enough quality sleep
Track your sleep schedule by keeping a diary of the times you fall asleep and the time you wake up. In addition, log how you feel in the morning versus the afternoon. You may feel sluggish early afternoon, taking notice that you are drowsier, yawning every few minutes, and in need of a ‘pick me up’ caffeine. To have an effective day it is recommended to sleep at least 7-9 hours of sleep because cognitive abilities decrease with sleep deprivation. “It is clear that a tired, underslept brain is a little more than a leaky memory sieve in no state to receive, absorb, or efficiently retain an education.” (Matthew Walker) Keep your mind and body charged for the following day to come.
Manage stress through relaxation techniques
Meditation is the best solution for brain fog, depression, anxiety, stress, and more. Meditation strengthens the prefrontal cortex, part of the frontal lobe in charge of higher-order brain function. According to evidence-based research, meditation has made significant changes in the prefrontal cortex, such as increased awareness, concentration, and decision making. In our parasympathetic nervous system, fight/flight is on most of the time, so we need tools to help calm our minds. Once we calm our mind our body automatically acclimates to how the mind wants us to act/react. Through guided meditation I have learned to slow down and let go of the continuous thoughts that race in my mind from the minute I wake up till I go to bed, leading to clarity and inner peace. Keep in mind that even though “there are dark clouds in the sky, that darkness will fade and you will only see the clear blue sky”.
Breathing exercises have been proven to help lower stress in the body, sending a message to the brain to calm down and relax. You can choose any technique that works best for you e.g. diaphragmatic breathing, nostril breathing, etc. Practice conscious breathing multiple times a day, or when you feel foggy/stressed/anxious.
Eat healthy foods
Reduce the amount of junk and processed foods you eat daily. Switch them out for cleaner foods such as vegetables, fruits, and protein. In about two-three weeks you will notice a change in your body, feeling lighter, more balanced, regulated, and increased energy.
As with everything it is not a one size fits, but each strategy mentioned above assists in providing a well-rounded holistic approach so one can notice significant changes in their daily lives. We rise by lifting each other.