Updated: Mar 15
Brain fog is a common condition and can be caused by a number of things including nutrient depletion, sleep deprivation, hormone imbalance and post-viral syndrome. However, one of the biggest causes of brain fog can actually be caused by stress and anxiety.
Think of your brain as a computer, persistent stress and anxiety are akin to those programs that run in the background using up tons of memory, making everything else run slowly.
We also need to keep in mind ways in which we can keep our brain healthy now in order to protect us in the future. Your brain is amazing. It controls your movement, emotions and stores all of your precious memories. Sadly, diseases that cause dementia can take all of this away.
So let’s do everything we can now to look after the powerhouse in our heads.
1. Drink more water. Yes, a total easy win. Our brains are made up of 73% water. They will not function correctly if we don’t keep ourselves hydrated. You should drink at least 2 litres of water per day and it should be spread out throughout the day. Have a glass when you wake up to kick you off in the right direction.
2. Take a walk in nature. There are a multitude of benefits to the brain linked with nature, Including improved concentration, better mental health, reduced stress and better quality of sleep. You do not need to get in the car and drive somewhere, just a walk down the street to the local park, observing the trees and listening to the bird song is enough. Walk to work if you can, choose the nicest route away from the busiest roads.
3. Good sleep hygiene. This can be one of the most difficult things to get right as a parent. We are so desperate for some adult or alone time that we will often stay up too late and then really feel it when we’re forced out of bed by the early brigade in the morning. Try to set a bedtime and wake-up time that you stick to, even at weekends. Ideally we would have 7-8 hours of sleep but if yours is 6.5 hours because you need that extra 30 minutes to relax then so be it. Just try to stay consistent.
If you’re like me and are disturbed constantly throughout the night by your own little sleep thief (for me this is at least 6 times per night), then you need to put a system in place to ensure you get adequate rest.
For me I
a) go to bed as bit earlier
b) co-sleep and
c) ensure my anxiety levels are kept low because once we start to worry throughout the night, there is no getting back to sleep!
4. Nutrition. There are many nutrients that are vital for the brain to function effectively (normally) and if you’re missing any of these it can cause a big problem. You should aim to eat the rainbow every day, ensuring you’re feeding your body a wide range of vitamins and minerals. If time is an issue you could sign up for a meal service like Gousto, or devise your own two week meal plan that you do the same shop for each time. Jack Monroe has some excellent nutritious and cheap recipes in her blog if you’re in need of ideas. You can prep mid-week food at the weekend when there is more time, maybe get the kids involved too.
Some top foods that help support the brain are red skinned fruits like raspberries, grapes, blueberries, oily fish such as salmon or sardines, turmeric (curcumin), broccoli, pumpkin seeds, nuts, eggs, green tea, dark chocolate, coffee and red wine. Yes, you read the last three correctly.
5. Social connection. Staying connected to those around you has a multitude of benefits for your current mental wellbeing and stress levels, as well as your future brain health. Studies have shown that lack of meaningful social connection can contribute to an increased risk of dementia.
So, make that phone call, schedule time to meet up with your mates, chat to other mums and share experiences, spend time connecting with your partner and children. Stop multi-tasking and see social connection as a worthwhile and vital piece of the jigsaw., for your happiness and health.
6. Stay sharp. Some people find their brains get the workouts they need because they have challenging jobs where they are constantly learning or improving on existing skills. Personally, I’ve always worked as a Maths teacher and I’ve found teaching Maths a fantastic workout for my brain. I still love a puzzle though, always have a book on the go where I’m learning something and I complete the daily Wordle (get on it if you haven’t already). Are you doing enough to give your brain the workout it needs?
7. Stress management habits. Come up with three small habits you can incorporate every week that will enable you to live a less stressful life. There are two ways of looking at this – you can eradicate some of the stressors or you can add more good stuff in so that your life has more balance and you feel happier. Make a list of the biggest causes of stress in your life and make a list of the things that bring you joy. Grab the low hanging fruit from each area and implement it now.
8. Exercise. Exercise is wonderful for the body, your brain and your mental well-being. Regular aerobic exercise such as running, biking or swimming not only preserves existing brain cells, it also fosters the growth of new ones.
9. Gratitude journaling. This uses the neuroplasticity of the brain to set the intention for your day. If we focus on what we’re grateful for, we not only attract more of it, we’re also reminding ourselves of all of the good in our lives and this is excellent for our mental health. By taking control of our thoughts, our brain is forced to create new neural pathways, in turn keeping it healthy.
You don’t have to spend ages on this and it doesn’t have to be a difficult habit to adopt. You could think of three things you’re grateful for everyday while you brush your teeth, in the morning and at night. Say them aloud if you don't have time to write them down.
10. Supplement. There are a lot of wonderful natural ingredients and superfoods that act as adaptogens (mood enhancers/stress relievers) and nootropics (cognitive enhancers) that help with focus, memory and motivation. SUPERMUM’s Power Up has the perfect blend of these teamed with the vital vitamins and minerals needed for normal brain function. There are 22 ingredients in total. Two vegan capsules per day, taken with a glass of water. No need to wrestle with a blender.
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