Brain Fog

The New Epidemic in Town: Brain Fog

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In a nutshell:

  • Brain fog is a condition in which there is a lack of mental clarity and the inability to focus.
  • There are many symptoms of brain fog like insomnia, tire, headache, lack of motivation, etc.
  • The key to feeling better is balancing these three chemicals are serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine.
  • Brain fog is caused due to lack of sleep, stress, anxiety, diet, hormonal changes, electronic radiations, and toxins.
  • Leaders are brain fogged too.
  • We can treat brain fog in several ways.

“This is not the Real Me.”

Emily is an HR and she loves her job. She is in her early 30’s. She is recently married. Even though she has an amazing job and a loving husband, she doesn’t feel right. She says that she drags herself to work every day now and even at home, all she does is lay in bed sleepless, exhausted, and aimless. In her words, “I just don’t have any energy, I feel tired all the time. I sleep late at night and I’m exhausted in the morning. I’m just dragging myself through the day. This is not the Real Me, I just don’t feel like myself.”

What had happened to her? 

What was it?

A brand new epidemic is in town now. It has many names. Some call it brain fog, some call it chemo brain, and some even fibro fog. It is Janus, the two-faced Greek god, where one side is depression and the other side is ADHD (Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or lack of focus. So, ultimately it is the problem of “I just don’t feel like myself.” In medical terms, it is a condition called “chronic cognitive and mood problem.” Even though medicine is at play now, the clinical vocabulary just fails to convey the frustration, fear, and outright suffering felt by the millions of people whose brains aren’t functioning properly. So let us begin by first understanding what brain fog means.

Meaning of Brain Fog

What does brain fog mean? Is it just medical jargon or does it have more aspects to it? 

Brain fog means lack of mental clarity, it is basically the inability to focus and concentrate. It affects your ability to think, clogs your brain and you start to feel confused or disorganised. It is a condition that is described as mental fatigue. So brain fog means a condition involving

  • issues with memory
  • mental disorganisation
  • incapacity to concentrate
  • inability to focus

Brain fog is not just a modern era problem but it is backed by biological factors too. Many people who go through this problem have substantial chemistry imbalances in their brains, which interfere with their capacity to feel their own power, joy, and purpose. 

Spirituality, connection, and social factors have to be addressed as well because treating the full person is essential for long-term improvement. Only a few of these people are diagnosed with depression if these imbalances require prescription treatment. Most of these issues are not long-term; all of these individuals can very easily recollect times when they were able to think properly and felt terrific. 

So the meaning of Brain fog does not only revolve around the medical know-how but also the internal aspect of the human. What I mean to say is that a person who is in this condition is not only in a sluggish state but is also in a vulnerable state in need of immediate attention. Brain fog doesn’t mean that my brain does not work, it is just temporarily out of order. 

Brain fog treatment is not only getting a doctor, and having doses of antidepressants (other medication in other cases), it is healing the person from within. It is about bringing back power, joy, purpose, and the zeal of life. The actual fact is that crucial brain chemicals that keep us active, calm, focused, and inspired are simply not getting the assistance they require. In fact, if you look at how most of us live, it’s almost as if we’ve selected a way of life that’s designed to mess with our brain chemistry. 

  • In a year, the Indian government spends only 33 paisa, or less than 1 cent, on a mental health patient.
  • According to the World Health Organization, around 90 million Indians, or 7.5 percent of the country’s population, suffer from mental illness (WHO).
  • Only 17 percent of American people are deemed to have “optimal mental health,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services.
  • One out of every 10 adults in the United States uses antidepressant medication.
  • According to a 2019 survey by the British charity Mental Health Research UK, nearly every second employee in India’s business sector suffers from depression or anxiety.
  • Dementia has affected more than 35 million people globally. By 2050, the number is predicted to be more than tripled to 115 million people.

These are some rather upsetting numbers. What’s worse is that depression, anxiety, sleeplessness, forgetfulness, and confusion have all crept up to become unpaid guests under our beds. For what’s worth it, you can reverse it, brain fog is easily treatable. So it is not that once you enter the maze, you cannot get out.

Now that we know the meaning of brain fog, we should step into understanding the symptoms of brain fog. How else will you know that your brain is fogged?

Symptoms of Brain Fog

The alarm goes off, jolting you awake from your sleep. You wake up tired and groggy, but before you can even get out of bed, you grab your phone, and before you know it, your heart is beating from the barrage of texts, tweets, notifications, and e-mails that have piled up overnight. You answer a few emails or jot down some mental notes with a rising sense of Monday morning dread or let’s just say Monday blues, but you’re already in work mode, your mind racing from one task to the next. You aren’t feeling well-rested or invigorated, let alone focused, so you reach for a cup of coffee to help you get out of bed.

When you get to your workstation, you check your email while also receiving calls and texts, and you dive right into the responsibilities that have built up overnight. Business was rarely undertaken beyond 6 p.m. just a generation ago, but now, with the 24-hour electronic cycle, chores pile up around the clock, so you nearly never feel caught up, even if you arrive early.

Throughout the day, you rarely have a few uninterrupted minutes to work. Calls, emails, texts, instant messaging, and other technological demands are continuously rolling in, and you have learned to interrupt yourself—breaking off a discussion to return a text, halting in the middle of a task to check your email compulsively.

You jump off to Facebook, checking the social life of your friends, trying to keep up but rather still being stuck at Jane losing weight and questioning yourself- why don’t you lose a few kgs? Social Media Detox becomes a necessity. 

Lunch gets rushed. Unhealthy piles of junk enter your body and you get back to work. Feeling all gloomy, you end your work and still take piles of emails and sheets back home. Even at night, when you go to sleep, your mind is two-way stuck at the calls you need to finish tomorrow and the kilos Jane has gained. Maybe you take a sleeping pill so that the next day is not that tiring but this crazy cycle continues.

This is the way many of us have continued to live our lives. Ignoring what we are doing to ourselves, ignoring the symptoms of brain fog. Actually in some ways, it is not our fault because the world has become like this and we are just inhabiting and adjusting to the ways we are supposed to. But this dark side is keeping us distant from reality. So the question stands,-“Is your brain fogged?”

Let’s look at why you’ve been feeling down and drab, or simply forgetful and uninspired and more importantly, what you can do about it. Below are some of the symptoms of brain fog followed by the causes of brain fog, to help you figure out if your brain is fogged.

Some of the symptoms of brain fog are as follows:

  • Confused
  • Tired
  • Distracted and absent
  • Concentration becomes difficult 
  • Impaired cognitive function
  • Headache
  • Insomnia
  • Depressed or mildly depressed
  • Forgetful
  • Demotivated

Causes of Brain Fog

Our brain has three chemicals that are required for thinking and feeling. These three chemicals are serotonin, cortisol, and dopamine. Serotonin is the neurotransmitter that causes sensations of calm, tranquilly, optimism, and self-assurance. Dopamine is the neurotransmitter that makes us feel enthusiastic, driven, and “pleasured.” Cortisol is a stress hormone that causes your body to go into overdrive. You’ll need a little cortisol to keep up with all of life’s obligations, big and small. 

The main message is that no matter what you’re going through—minor stress, an uninspired existence, a huge crisis, or a round of chemotherapy—rebalancing these three brain chemicals is the key to feeling better. So how do we know what is causing brain fog? In other words, what are the causes of brain fog?

Some of the causes of brain fog are rooted in our lifestyle and some are due to hormonal changes. Let us understand these causes of brain fog one by one.

Lack of Sleep: Good sleep is the most important part of our life. Poor quality of sleep affects our brain. 7 to 8 hours of sleep a day is compulsory. It allows our brain to rest, recover and function well. So if you are all caught up worrying about your team, your call, subconsciously you are not sleeping well. Fix a time to sleep and consistently take 7 hours of sleep every day.

Stress: Stress is another cause of brain fog. Stress causes reduced blood flow to our brain and when the brain gets a lower level of blood, our memory becomes poor. Chronic stress can cause high blood pressure, weakened immune systems, and depression. It can also lead to mental exhaustion. It’s more difficult to think, reason, and focus when your brain is weary.

Electromagnetic Radiations: Phones, tablets, and other gadgets are our new best friends. Every day every hour we are continuously hogged on our screens sending messages and replying to emails. But these gadgets have a darker side too. They give out electromagnetic radiations that are harmful to our body causing brain fog.

Hormonal Changes: Hormonal changes can do wonders to our bodies. It’s like the magic potion that can either keep us going or cause our fall. Brain fog can also be caused by hormonal changes. During pregnancy, the hormones progesterone and estrogen rise in the body. This alteration has the potential to disrupt memory and induce short-term cognitive impairment. Similarly, during menopause, a decline in estrogen levels can lead to forgetfulness, poor focus, and hazy thinking.

Diet: Brain fog can also be caused by a poor diet. We continue to consume caffeine and junk food, which causes our physical state to become unbalanced. A vitamin B-12 shortage can cause brain fog. Vitamin B-12 supports healthy brain function. In some cases, even food allergies or some food, such as peanuts and dairy, might cause brain fog

Anxiety: Anxiety consumes mental energy. To focus on something other than their concern, a person may have to use more energy. They may believe that their nervous thoughts interrupt their mental process on a regular basis. It may be more difficult to concentrate and think clearly as a result of this. Anxiety impairs a person’s ability to think clearly, causing brain fog. The chores that a person must complete may cause them to have more nervous thoughts.

Toxins: It might be hard to believe, but even toxins cause brain fog. Toxins, pollution, harmful chemical substances, and insecticides, present in our environment disrupt our physical wellbeing and mental wellbeing causing brain fog.

Do Leaders Have Brain Fog Too?

Being a leader is not simple. There are times when even a leader feels caught up and is unable to make decisions. So, it is natural for a leader to experience brain fog. Often, we see that leaders are so much driven towards their goal that they tend to forget that there is a life outside the cubicles too. They keep working and even bring piles of work home. The concept of work life balance gets lost, diet gets distrubed and in some cases, even sleeplessness becomes common. But leaders should maintain their  mental health too.

In such a case, leaders should immediately look for coaches and therapists and change their way of handling work. One must not look down upon the position and designation. Anyone can experience brain fog and it should be treated in the correct way. Here are some of the brain fog treatment techniques that anyone can use.

Brain Fog Treatment 

Our brains do not get the nutrients they need to maintain healthy levels of serotonin and dopamine, as well as low amounts of the stress hormone cortisol. So instead, we use caffeine, sugar, and carbs to haze, daze, and wire our minds. Electronics, distractions, and undue stress—it’s a prescription for disaster. Our brain chemistry will undoubtedly get disrupted. Then we rely on short-term solutions. Excessive caffeine, pharmaceuticals, sleep aids, and social media are all band-aids. Isolation aggravates our difficulties in the long run. The good news is that you have the power to change these patterns and take control of your life and your mental wellbeing.

Here’s a quick rundown of what your brain requires to thrive—and what’s keeping it from doing so.

What Your Brain Requires

  • Vitamins, necessary amino acids, and healthy fats are all important nutrients
  • Exercise
  • A sufficient amount of restorative sleep
  • Circadian rhythms that are regular and healthy
  • Relaxation and restoration during downtime
  • Meaning and purpose
  • Spiritual observance
  • A sense of belonging to something bigger than yourself

Exercise

While there is no set “dosage” of exercise for improving brain function, it is typically suggested that you aim for 30 minutes of activity five days a week. Majority of us are aware that regular exercise aids in the maintenance of a healthy body weight. However, it is likely to be considerably more useful to our brains than we previously believed. It turns out that exercise may be the single most effective mood enhancer available. It’s incredibly helpful in increasing energy and combating anxiety and despair.

  • During long periods of sitting, mix exercises with some light-intensity breaks—the equivalent of just six minutes of walking every hour.
  • When possible, take the steps rather than the elevator or escalator.
  • Walk around the block after lunch and dinner.
  • Put in an earpiece and take a walk around your neighbourhood when you’re on the phone with a pal.

Proper Sleep

Sleep is the time when the brain and body work together to eliminate toxins and promote healing. Make sure you get enough sleep, at least 7 to 8 hours everyday. Proper sleep improves your alertness levels. Get to bed by 11 p.m. and wake up by 7 a.m., and maintain these natural cycles throughout the week: they’re essential for optimal health.

Use the following practices to promote good sleep hygiene and deep sleep:

  • Say no to television.
  • After 7 p.m., avoid using your computer or tablet.
  • After 7 p.m., replace all fluorescent bulbs in your home with LED bulbs.
  • Control caffeine intake.
  • Take short naps.  
  • Soak up some sunshine.

Improve your Diet

Healthy and timely eating is really important to get rid of brain fog. 

  • Eating anti-inflammatory foods can actually improve your mood and sharpen your brain. 
  • Our blood sugar levels have a big impact on our brain chemistry, and our diets have a big impact on our memories, moods, and concentration levels. Foods we eat can either produce stable, long-lasting blood sugar levels, or they can cause sugar spikes and crashes, leaving us feeling muddled, worried, and depressed.
  • Avoid alcohol and other chemicals that can harm your brain will give it the best chance to heal.
  • The cells in our brain require twice as much energy as the cells in the rest of our body. And carbohydrates are the preferred source of energy for our brain.

Avoid Toxins

Making wise dietary choices, getting adequate sleep, and managing your medications are all important variables in how your brain performs. However, in order to think and feel your best, you must also eliminate toxins from your diet, air, and water. You’ll be treating the fundamental causes of any issues with low mood or brain fog this way. It’s also part of a holistic approach to better thinking and feeling.

Many of us are unaware that the pesticides and chemicals in our environment are fogging and clogging our brains, resulting in a slew of frightening symptoms such as depression, anxiety, hyperactivity, and aggressive behaviour. So instead:

  • Drink toxin-free water.
  • Avoid stagnant indoor air. 
  • Use nontoxic cleaning supplies.

Bring Novelty 

Try a new activity that stimulates and helps strengthen your brain every day for the next week. Using these guidelines, you can come up with your own activities in addition to the ones I suggest:

Today, try something new that gives you a FEELING OF PLEASURE.

Today, try something new that will make you feel PRODUCTIVE.

Today, try something new that makes you feel POWERFUL.

Today, try something new that makes you feel PROUD.

Today, try something new that makes you feel PASSIONATE.

Slowly, you’ll find that your brain fog is dissipating as you experience a newfound sense of clarity and motivation that will help you reach bigger goals down the line. Everyone has the ability to learn and make a difference in their life. Today. Tomorrow. Try to incorporate as many brain fog treatments as you can. You will restore your true being. 

Just remember, “This is not you, it’s just your brain.”

Frequently Asked Questions

What does brain fog mean?

Brain fog is the inability to focus and concentrate due to a lack of mental clarity. It impairs your thinking abilities, clogs your brain, and causes you to become confused or disorganised. It’s a syndrome that’s referred to as mental exhaustion.

What are the symptoms of brain fog?

Some of the symptoms of brain fog are as follows:

  • Confusion
  • Being tired all the time
  • Distracted and Absent from our surrounding
  • Concentration becomes difficult 

What are the ways of brain fog treatment?

Some of the ways of the brain fog treatment are as follows:

  • Vitamins, necessary amino acids, and healthy fats are all important nutrients.
  • Exercise
  • A sufficient amount of restorative sleep
  • Circadian rhythms that are regular and healthy
  • Relaxation and restoration during downtime

What are the main causes of brain fog?

Some of the main causes of brain fog  are as follows:

  • Lack of Sleep
  • Stress
  • Electromagnetic Radiations
  • Hormonal Changes
  • Diet
  • Anxiety

Do leaders have brain fog?

It is not easy to be a leader. Even the most capable leader can get overwhelmed and unable to make judgments. As a result, it’s natural for a leader to suffer from brain fog. They are so focused on achieving their goal that they forget that there is life outside of the cubicles as well. They continue to work and often bring heaps of work home with them. The concept of work-life balance is often forgotten, but leaders must also take care of their mental health.

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