brain fog

Have you ever felt like it was impossible to focus? Like there was a thick veil in your head that made you want to stare off into space with your eyes glazed over? If you have, you may have experienced brain fog.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain fog is an umbrella term used to talk about a group of symptoms affecting the brain. It almost feels like your brain is trying to sleep while your body is still awake. You feel tired and unfocused, and the worst part is there are many reasons why you could be feeling this way.

Despite being pretty common, there’s a lot we don’t know about brain fog. By reading more about it and understanding the signs, hopefully, you can get a game plan to get clear the fog up and get back to your best self. 

Before we get into it, I want to stress that brain fog only refers to symptoms and does not refer to a specific illness. To truly get rid of it, you will probably need to address the cause with a medical professional. 

The signs

There are a lot of symptoms of brain fog, but essentially, you’re probably feeling it whenever it’s harder to use your head than it should be. 

It’s also important to note that feeling one or more of these symptoms doesn’t necessarily mean anything. If you find yourself experiencing the signs of a foggy brain over a long period of time, it most likely won’t go away by itself. 

Impaired cognitive function

The most significant way you will be affected is by a slow or “foggy” brain. It may feel like you have to muddle through your days while feeling half-asleep even though you’re wide awake.

Common symptoms of impaired cognitive function caused by brain fog include:

  • Slowed thoughts
  • Trouble concentrating or an inability to focus
  • Feeling scatterbrained
  • Trouble finding words
  • Needing more time to complete simple tasks
  • Worsened short-term memory
  • Needing to make a conscious effort to organize thoughts

Fatigue

We all joke about how tired you get as an adult, but in reality, you aren’t supposed to be tired all the time. Being tired nonstop is a sign that something is wrong, and most of the time, it means there’s something going on with your brain. 

Having a foggy head all the time or feeling muddled is unusual, and quite frankly, it sucks. Sometimes it’s easy to brush it off as nothing to be concerned about because you’re “just tired.” You’re not supposed to be tired all the time, though. 

What Causes it

There are a lot of causes of brain fog, and just because you experience one of them doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll feel foggy. Some causes are also easier to correct than others. 

Whatever the cause is, you will have to address it if you want to get rid of the symptoms.

Depression

There are a lot of side effects of depression that people don’t talk about. Not only does depression physically alter your brain, but it can also have many effects on memory and focus. Neurons in your brain can cause the hippocampus to shrink, which will seriously affect your day-to-day life. 

(Click here to learn more about the physical effects depression has on our brains).

If you’re struggling with depression, the best way to seek help is to reach out to a therapist. They can recommend the proper treatment plan and work with you to overcome the fogginess depression can cause. 

Sadly, depression isn’t usually something that goes away on its own and can get worse if ignored. 

Medication

Certain medications have been reported to cause fogginess and lack of mental clarity. Birth control and antidepressants are especially notorious for muddling the mind. If you started a new medication and found yourself losing focus for long periods, it’s probably a good idea to talk to your doctor.

Some medications are necessary for one reason or another, so if you’re experiencing fogginess, you will want to develop coping strategies and/or find alternative medicine to the one you are currently on.

Chronic Fatigue

Chronic fatigue can be one of the easiest causes of brain fog to cure. Just get more sleep. If something else is causing your fatigue, it can be a whole other can of worms to tackle. 

It makes sense that being tired all the time slows your brain down and causes you to be even more tired, doesn’t it?

Covid-19

We don’t know much about the long-term effects of covid-19, but studies have suggested it can be a cause of brain fog. Harvard Health has documented various cognitive issues in patients who have recovered from covid. These issues include slowed thinking, memory loss, difficulty processing information, and brain fog. 

As if the pandemic didn’t already make things challenging enough.

How to get rid of it

I’m not a health expert, so please take anything I say with a grain of salt. I can’t guarantee anything, and if you’re having trouble coping with brain fog or another ailment, it’s best to seek proper medical advice from a professional. 

Feel free to try out the following options if you are looking for some easy remedies, though, and you don’t want to rely on medication (or alter another prescription you’re taking for other health reasons).

Exercise

It’s something you hear a lot whenever depression comes up. “Get some exercise,” “try yoga,” etc., and so forth. It gets annoying real fast, but if you’re just dealing with the occasional brain fog, getting some fresh air really will help. 

Going for a walk with your dog or playing a pickup game with your friends is a great way to clear your mind and reinvigorate your sense of purpose. It is, however, a little less effective for chronic illnesses.

Healthy habits

In general, one way to feel better and cure many minor ailments is to practice a healthier lifestyle. Practice healthy habits like eating more vegetables, getting the recommended 8 hours of sleep, taking vitamins if needed, etc.

Really anything that helps you feel physically better and more alert will be a way to clear up brain fog. Even just doing things you’re passionate or excited about doing can help. Sometimes, when I’m feeling foggy, I can still settle in with a good book or a new game and feel more energized than I do after a full night of sleep.

Even if it feels like a lot of work to try exercising or doing something you usually enjoy, small steps are better than just standing still. Half-@ssing something is better than not even trying after all. And you never know; once you get going, you might just be able to keep up the momentum. 

Talk to your doctor

If you’re really struggling to get through the fog and lethargy, the best option is to talk to your doctor. They can discuss the cause with you and help you find the most concrete solution, and they can also help you find alternative solutions if Plan A doesn’t work.

If you’re hesitant to talk to a doctor because you don’t have health insurance, we’ve got some tips for setting up your first plan! Health insurance can certainly be confusing, but it is unfortunately very necessary.

How do you clear your head when it starts feeling foggy?

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