Do you feel like your brain isn’t firing on all cylinders right now? Are you easily confused or frustrated because you’re having a hard time processing information? These are common indicators of brain fog.
We can’t promise to cure your brain fog overnight, but we can help you navigate your frustrations and potentially get back on track. Check out these tips to improve cognitive function.
What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog is a colloquial term for when you’re having trouble thinking or processing information. You may struggle to form complete sentences or you may lose your train of thought more often than usual. Here are common symptoms of brain fog:
- Having trouble listening when someone else is talking
- Feeling overwhelmed by basic tasks
- Not wanting to watch TV or have a conversation because your brain feels overloaded
- Trouble concentrating or completing tasks
- Fatigue, depression, and impaired cognitive function
- Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
- Irritability and frustration
- Feeling like you can’t think straight
- Taking significantly longer than usual to complete routine tasks
- Struggling to comprehend what someone else is saying or what you’re reading
You’ve probably experienced a time when a muscle on your body felt overworked. In this case, it’s your brain that feels like it’s at its breaking point.
Brain fog happens to just about everyone, and it’s particularly common among people who have had COVID-19. In fact, 78% of people who had long-lasting side effects from COVID report brain fog as one of their key complaints. If you feel overwhelmed with mental lag, know that you’re not alone.
Figure out What May Be Causing Your Brain Fog
Your brain works hard every day to keep you moving, process your emotions, categorize your memories, and push you through daily life. Even a fully-functioning brain has its limits though, much like any other part of your body.
In order to fix brain fog, you need to first determine what may be causing it. Are you overstretched right now and in need of a break? Did you have a stressful event occur that your brain is struggling to process? Are you trying to do too many things at once right now?
Take a hard look at the situation and determine what may be stressing your brain. Then you can come up with a plan to minimize the stress and push your way out of the fog.
Give Your Brain a Break
In most cases, the easiest way to cure brain fog is to give your brain a break. Dedicate a day to doing absolutely nothing. No housework, no paid work, no meal planning – just sleeping and relaxing. Put all your responsibilities on pause for 24 hours and just focus on your reboot. This should leave you feeling revitalized and better equipped to handle the tasks ahead.
If you can’t take an entire day off from responsibilities, try to drastically cut back on your stressors. Skip your weekly book club for a week or ask a friend to take your kids to practice. Lean on your support system and let them know how overwhelmed you feel. The more you can take off your plate, the easier it will be for your brain to kick back into gear.
Tips for Improving Concentration When You Have Brain Fog
If you need to push through brain fog, here are some tips to improve concentration and cognitive function:
- Eliminate extra noise and distractors when you work. If you need to use noise-canceling headphones to cut out the background noise, go for it! The goal here is to give your brain one thing to focus on at a time so you don’t feel too overwhelmed.
- Establish a consistent sleep routine with at least 7 hours of sleep. Your brain thrives when it has structure and routine. Go to sleep around the same time every day and do the same basic tasks each night before bed. This will help you fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Set alarms for tasks you’re struggling to remember – meal times, shower, bills, etc. When you’re in the midst of brain fog, it’s easy to forget tasks you normally do out of habit. Instead of getting mad at yourself for being forgetful, set alarms for the things you may not remember. This removes the stress associated with those tasks and ensures you get them done, regardless of your cognitive capacity.
- Let people in your life know that you’re struggling. Your spouse, children, roommate or coworkers may be able to pick up some of the slack while you’re going through this tough time. Being transparent may also curb future arguments because your support system knows why you’re moody, irritable, etc. Vocalize your frustration and accept help as it comes.
- Avoid caffeine in the evenings. This may disrupt your sleep schedule, which could make your brain fog worse tomorrow.
- Minimize your screen time. If you have to stare at the computer all day at work, don’t spend the evening scrolling on your phone. Instead, read a book, listen to music or take a hot bath with no screens at all. You may also consider using blue light filtering glasses to reduce strain on your brain from screens.
- Focus on what you can control. Take on one task at a time, and accept what your limitations are right now. Give yourself grace as you get through this time, and rest assured that your brain fog will pass.
How to Prevent Brain Fog in the Future
Brain fog almost always comes about because you’re trying to process too much at once. To prevent this issue in the future, limit how many tasks you take on. If you’re at your capacity at work, let your boss know that. If you cannot handle any more extracurriculars, learn to say no. Schedule short vacations and mental health days to give your brain a chance to reset and recognize the symptoms of brain fog early on.
If you’d like to speak with a therapist about your struggles, CNLD Testing & Therapy offers confidential counseling appointments for adults, teens, and children. We have teletherapy appointments available, as well as traditional in-person sessions. Contact us at (734) 994-9466 to get matched with a therapist near you.