Simple and practical tips to help you manage and reduce brain fog

Brain fog can be unpleasant and isolating, and if you suffer from it, you’re not alone. In fact, brain fog is on the rise and is among one of many symptoms experienced by people suffering long Covid.

Due to often relentlessly busy modern day lifestyles, few of us will be lucky enough to have remained blissfully unaffected by brain fog. The problem can be caused by stress, lack of sleep, hormonal changes, diet, nutritional deficiencies, multiple medical conditions, and certain medications, too.

While not strictly a medical term, brain fog has a long list of potential symptoms, including:

  • Poor concentration
  • Trouble focusing
  • Feeling confused or disoriented
  • Frequent loss of train of thought
  • Difficulty remembering familiar details such as words, names, or places
  • General fatigue or lethargy
  • Thinking more slowly
  • Forgetfulness

Unfortunately, brain fog often causes a combination of several overlapping symptoms at once, making it very difficult to function normally.

However the symptoms of brain fog manifest themselves, there are practical steps you could take to manage or help reduce the frequency of incidences.

Cut down on culprit foods

Feeling brain fog after eating is more common than you might think. After eating a meal, you should feel energised but if you instead feel exhausted and fuzzy of head, your brain is trying to tell you there’s a problem.

You may have an allergic reaction to certain foods. While it can be tricky to pinpoint food allergies, the top eight foods that are well known to cause issues are:

  • Dairy
  • Eggs
  • Fish
  • Peanuts
  • Shellfish
  • Soy
  • Nuts
  • Wheat

Other possible explanations for brain fog after eating could be due to food sensitivities, or intolerances.

You are what you eat, so if you believe food could be at the root of your brain fog, avoid processed foods wherever possible, cut back on heavy carbs like bread and pasta, reduce your sugar intake, and instead boost your brain and overall health with hearty veg, salads, and fruit.

A good rule of thumb is to stick to a plant-based or Mediterranean-style of eating with a focus on plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, and healthy fats.

Top tip: When doing your weekly grocery shop, most of your shopping should be complete before you leave the fruit and veg section!

Exercise your brain with a regular workout

“Use it or lose it” doesn’t only apply to various tax allowances, it’s also true for your brain health. And, as with your body, the more you exercise your brain, the stronger it’s likely to be.

There are a variety of brain-boosting activities, so you’re bound to find one to suit you. If you’re a keen wordsmith, then a regular game of Scrabble or simply settling down with a good novel, can support your cognitive health. Alternatively, Sudoku, solving other maths puzzles, learning a new language, or playing a musical instrument can all make a positive difference.

As with physical exercise, being consistent will pay back, too. So, to help you keep your brain engaged, make sure you find an activity that you truly enjoy and want to keep doing every day, or at least on a regular weekly basis.

Read more: 4 ways Wordle and other brain-taxing puzzles can benefit your health and mental wellbeing

Move your body

Physical exercise helps you feel more energised because it gets the blood and oxygen flowing through the body. So, it follows that a lack of exercise could be detrimental to your brain health.

You don’t have to don the Lycra and hit the gym, either. A daily walk, gardening, a few lengths of the swimming pool, or a yoga session can all help reset your brain.

So, whether it’s a weekly yoga class, tai chi, fun Zumba, dancing, a daily walk, or doing regular morning stretches – choose an activity that you love, and try and build it in to your weekly schedule.

Reduce caffeine and alcohol

Realise this may be dull, and you’ll have heard it all before, but excessive amounts of caffeine and alcohol isn’t great for your brain.

Consuming too much coffee, or anything else containing caffeine (we’re looking at you, chocolate!), could hamper your sleep. And improving the quality of your sleep is a vital component to battling brain fog…

Prioritise sleep

There’s no escaping the fact that a bad night’s sleep can leave you feeling slow and sluggish, while a solid eight hours can help keep you sharp.

So, it stands to reason that addressing your sleep and taking steps to ensure you get quality rest at night can help to reduce symptoms of brain fog.

Experts recommend that adults should get between seven and eight hours of sleep each night. So, if you regularly enjoy less than this, it’s wise to take proactive steps to improve matters.

Three areas to focus your attention are:

  • How you spend the hours in the run up to bedtime – try to stop using screens or devices at least one hour before you hit the sack.
  • Relaxation – whether it’s a warm bath, some meditative breathing, or reading a few pages of a novel, find an activity that will help calm your mind and set you up for a good night’s sleep.
  • Your curtains – for the best quality sleep, you should try and sleep in pitch black darkness, so invest in blackout curtains or linings.

Read more: 4 tried and tested ways to get more sleep and why it matters

While occasional brain fog is normal for many, if your brain fog is debilitating and you’re struggling to cope with every day activities, seek help and advice from your GP.

Please note:

This article is for general information only and does not constitute advice. The information is aimed at retail clients only.

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