Day-to-day responsibilities can take a toll on your mental health and cognitive function, and sometimes there can be days when it feels impossible to check everything off your to-do list. At times you might even feel like you’re lost in a thick fog, unable to find your way around or remember things that normally come naturally to you.
You’re not alone.
Most of us experience this phenomenon, called “brain fog,” throughout our lives—defined by difficulty focusing, retrieving memories, or following conversations. Sometimes, you may even feel as though your thoughts have vaporized into the metaphorical fog itself.
As such, we’ve compiled a list of 5 tips on how to get rid of brain fog to help clear the mental mist and relieve mental fatigue.
Brain Fog: What It Is and Why It Happens1
“Brain fog” is a nonmedical umbrella term that is used to describe a variety of cognitive symptoms.2 These symptoms include:
- Having difficulty accomplishing simple tasks
- Requiring more time than usual to perform said tasks
- Becoming easily distracted
Since brain fog is a collection of symptoms and not a disorder or disease, it can have many causes, such as:
It’s normal to experience brain fog from time to time, particularly when there is a clear physical cause or stressor in your environment. If brain fog is severe enough to affect the way you function day-to-day, consult with your healthcare team about your brain fog symptom.
For sunnier days, check out our tips and tricks to help manage and combat brain fog.
#1 Improve the Quality of Your Sleep4
It’s no question that a good night’s sleep can work wonders. The opposite is also true—sleep deprivation has a negative effect on mental and physical health. It can even cause an anxiety feedback loop: sleep deprivation causes anxiety and anxiety causes poor sleep.
As such, you can improve your quality of sleep in two ways.
Maintain Good Sleep Hygiene
It can be challenging to change a habit, but building a routine around good sleep hygiene can improve your physical and mental health. Try to incorporate these healthy habits every day:
- Establish a schedule that allows you to go to bed and wake up at the same time daily
- Don’t eat a large meal, drink alcohol, or consume caffeine for a couple of hours before bed
- Find ways to remain active during waking hours
- Avoid looking at screens before bed
Create Restful Surroundings
A dedicated restful environment is a great way to support healthy sleep. Making your bedroom a place of quiet respite can be a therapeutic experience, too. Try some of these techniques for creating a calm bedroom:
- Keep screens out of the room
- Make sure the lighting is soft
- Invest in a quality mattress, pillows, and linens that suit your individual comfort needs
- Incorporate relaxing scents like lavender with an oil diffuser or room spray
- Consider using a white noise machine
#2 Eat Well and Keep Your Gut Happy
Did you know that you have a second brain? It’s called the enteric nervous system or ENS, and it’s in the lining of your gut. It runs the complex process of digestion and sends signals directly to the brain in your head.
The ENS can also prompt immune reactions and mood changes depending on what happens in your intestines.5 This is referred to as the “gut-brain axis.” As such, to combat brain fog, you must pay extra attention to your gut health.
Maintain a Well-Balanced Diet
This tip is pretty straightforward. You can improve your gut health and fight brain fog by eating a well-balanced diet. Consuming a variety of nutrition-rich foods will provide your body with the energy it needs to function well.
Due to biological and environmental differences, a healthy diet can look different in practice from person to person. Consult with your healthcare team to make sure your diet is providing you with the fuel you need.
Cut Down on Substances
There’s nothing wrong with indulging now and then. However, brain fog can be caused or exacerbated by alcohol or drugs. Try cutting back on the consumption of these substances and see how it affects your symptoms.
Pay Attention to Your Microbiota6
The microbiota is a complex colony of microorganisms within your gut that play an extremely important role in the process of digestion. An imbalance in your microbiota may result in poor gut diversity, which can lead to stress and anxiety—two of the main brain fog causes.
Since gut microbiota is such a delicate system, it sometimes needs outside assistance to stay in balance.
Here at Bio-K+®, we formulate a variety of probiotic products (supplements made from “good” bacteria that support gut balance) that may assist the microbiota within your digestive system.
#3 Get Moving
We live in complicated times and exercise might not be at the top of your list of priorities. However, studies have shown that regular exercise can combat cognitive decline as well as greatly reduce anxiety and stress.7
As we know, anxiety and stress levels are often linked to brain fog. As such, moving your body throughout the day, whether you’re going on a calming walk or ending your workday with an energetic CrossFit class, may help alleviate mental fogginess.
Establish an Exercise Routine You Enjoy
Exercise doesn’t have to mean cardio and weight training at the gym. It’s easier to commit to daily exercise if you actually enjoy the activity. Here are a few ideas to get your body moving if traditional exercise just doesn’t cut it:
- Take a hike or a nature walk with a friend or pet
- Go for a swim at the local pool, swimming hole, or beach
- Take a yoga, martial arts, or dance class
- Go for a walking adventure around your city
- Join a local sports league
Escape from the Screen
Every little bit of movement counts. If you work at a desk or in front of a screen, finding opportunities to take a break from your workstation may help improve your focus.
Set a notification on your phone or computer for every half hour. When it goes off, stand up and move around in whatever way feels best in the moment. Alternatively, look into standing desks or treadmill desks to keep your body active during work hours.
#4 Practice Mindfulness
As we’ve touched on several times, high levels of anxiety may lead to brain fog.
While it may be impossible to avoid anxiety entirely, you can manage it through mental techniques like meditation and mindfulness.
Follow Your Feelings8
Emotions are integral to our bodies’ regulatory systems. They’re a physiological response, meaning they happen to us even if we try to ignore them or push them away.
Feelings are different from emotions—they are our perception of the changes that emotions create in our bodies and minds. In other words, feelings are the thoughts you think about the emotions that arise within your body.
Allowing our feelings to arise and acknowledging them with compassion helps us process the underlying emotions that cause them. And processing emotions is key to maintaining good brain health.
Here are a few examples of how to process an emotion out loud:
- “My heart is racing. I feel cold and sweaty. I’m experiencing fear and anxiety, and that is okay.”
- “I feel like I can’t get out of bed. I feel a heavy weight on my chest. I’m exhausted and sad right now, but that doesn’t mean I will feel this way forever.”
“My body is restless. It’s difficult for me to focus. I can’t stop imagining what will happen in the future. I’m excited and nervous at the same time.”
Find opportunities to sit quietly with yourself. Like regular exercise, meditation looks different for everyone. Here are some methods to try:
- Full-body relaxation – Lie down and close your eyes. Starting with your toes, imagine each body part relaxing and growing heavy. If you lose focus, start over. Repeat the process slowly and intentionally to release tension and chronic stress.
- Guided meditation – Try guided meditations from an app or website. You can listen to these whenever you feel the need to center yourself (except while driving or operating machinery, of course).
- Thought work – Find a comfortable seated position and close your eyes. Allow your thoughts to come freely. Acknowledge them, but don’t follow them. Watch them pass by and find peace and stillness in their wake.
#5 Consider Supplements
Many of the symptoms of brain fog can be caused by vitamin deficiencies or other digestive absorption issues. As such, supplements are an effective way to address these nutrition gaps.
Ask your health care provider if a daily multivitamin is appropriate for you and you may try a probiotic from Bio-K+ to support your intestinal and gastrointestinal health. We’ve even formulated a vegan probiotic that contains Cereboost™, a scientifically supported active ingredient studied for its effects on cognitive performance, cognitive function and working memory.When you feel brain fog rolling in, you may be able to clear the skies by making some lifestyle changes like maintaining good sleep hygiene, a nutritious diet, a regular exercise routine, and mindfulness.
You may also want to supplement these practices with Bio-K+®.
With our selection of probiotic products, you can use the gut-brain axis to your advantage to promote a favorable gut that could have an impact on mental health.
Feel mentally ready to take on whatever life throws at you with all these changes.
- MediLexicon International. (n.d.). Anxiety and brain fog: Symptoms, causes, and treatment. Medical News Today. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/anxiety-and-brain-fog#when-to-contact-a-doctor
- (n.d.). Brain fog: A bit of clarity regarding etiology, prognosis, and treatment. Journal of psychosocial nursing and mental health services. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/34714198/
- Figueiredo, T., Lima, G., Erthal, P., Martins, R., Corção, P., Leonel, M., Ayrão, V., Fortes, D., & Mattos, P. (2020, January 21). Mind-wandering, depression, anxiety and ADHD: Disentangling the relationship. Psychiatry Research. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S016517811930006X
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2016, July 15). CDC - sleep hygiene tips - sleep and sleep disorders. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Retrieved March 30, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/sleep_hygiene.html
- The brain-gut connection. Johns Hopkins Medicine. (n.d.). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection
- Thursby, E., & Juge, N. (2017, May 16). Introduction to the human gut microbiota. The Biochemical journal. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5433529/
- Stubbs, K. A. (n.d.). Exercise and anxiety. Advances in experimental medicine and biology. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/32342469/
- Damasio, A. R. (n.d.). The Science of Emotion. The Science of Emotion (Library of Congress). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.loc.gov/loc/brain/emotion/Damasio.html
- Anxiety and sleep. Sleep Foundation. (2022, March 25). Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://www.sleepfoundation.org/mental-health/anxiety-and-sleep
- Shin , K, et al. (n.d.). Cereboost™, an American ginseng extract, improves cognitive function via up-regulation of choline acetyltransferase expression and neuroprotection. Regulatory toxicology and pharmacology : RTP. Retrieved March 31, 2022, from https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/27112419/