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  • Writer's pictureEmma Coyle

Brain feeling fuzzy? Perhaps you're experiencing 'Brain Fog'....

What is ‘Brain Fog?’

‘Brain Fog’ is the term used to describe the state of having mental ‘fuzziness’ or lack of clarity. It is not formally a condition in its own right but can point to several other conditions, including anxiety, stress and depression

When experiencing brain fog, you might:

- Have trouble formulating your thoughts into words/sentences

- Find it difficult to concentrate – your mind constantly wanders off, making it difficult to get anything done

- Find it hard to remember what you were doing/saying – this can be anything from forgetting where you’ve put your car keys to remembering what you had for dinner yesterday

- Feel physically and/or mentally exhausted (the feeling of being ‘spaced out’) –the kind of tiredness that can’t be overcome by rest or caffeine

- Have trouble finding the motivation to do things you’d usually do

- Have thoughts that seem ‘hazy’ or difficult to get hold of

Anxiety Related Brain Fog:

This type not only stops you from getting things done, but it also gives you another thing to feel anxious about, especially if it’s been going on for some time. Anxious thoughts might contribute to other physical symptoms including stomach upset, tiredness and a general feeling of uneasiness

How to Work on Lifting the Fog:

Find the Source– knowing what has caused it can help you work out how to tackle it more effectively. Does it relate to a specific event you are planning or working on e.g. a party or a project at work? If it is not easy to identify the cause by yourself, then perhaps you may need to enlist the support of a professional such as a counsellor

Get More Sleep – regardless of the amount of anxiety you are experiencing, lack of sleep most definitely makes it much harder to think clearly. It also leads to irritability and daytime fatigue. Try and aim for at least 7 hours per night, but ideally 9 if you can

Spend Time Doing Things you Enjoy – when you are so busy it is difficult to see how you could even make time to relax but you do need to! Try setting aside a realistic amount of time each day for this – say 30 minutes to 1 hour. This gives your brain a chance to recharge and power up for the next piece of work

Meditate – this may not sound like the most obvious of things to do when you’re feeling overwhelmed and unable to focus but actually it can help increase your awareness of physical and emotional experiences as they happen, and regulate unwanted or challenging emotions

Eating Well – anxiety often leads to stomach problems making it more difficult to eat like you normally would. Skipping meals might lead to you feeling nauseous at even the thought of food. not eating enough or getting the right nutrients can make it difficult to focus. Ready meals or fast food might seem like the easy option but actually can make you feel even more tired. Better foods to try, which are known to actively aid with cognition, include berries, leafy greens, wholegrains, lean proteins (fish/poultry) and nuts. Also make sure you hydrate properly, as dehydration not only detrimentally affects physical health but also your concentration, memory and energy levels. Always keep a reusable water bottle with you so you can fill up whenever you feel thirsty

Exercise – most of us have heard that exercise can help improve your sleep and increase the flow of blood to your brain, but did you know that it also helps improve cognition?

Take a Short Break– just taking 15 minutes away from your work, to read, stretch or stare into space, can really help you reset and return with increased clarity and concentration

Make a Stress Management Plan – set boundaries to protect time for self-care; learn to get comfortable with saying ‘no’ to requests for help when you’ve already got enough on; think of three ways to manage stressful situations wherever you are e.g. breathing exercises, grounding exercises

See your GP – it’s possible that your brain fog might be connected to more than just anxiety, so it’s a good idea to go and get it checked out. It could be related to a vitamin deficiency, anaemia or a hormonal imbalance.

Work with a Counsellor– talking to a professional can help you get more insight and understanding as to what your triggers are. Once you know these you can learn to manage them more effectively

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