You’re reading Here, Try This – our month-long plan encouraging you to try something new every day.
This means brain fog is alive and real – when your head feels like it’s filled with cotton wool, or you struggle to remember words and can’t think straight. You might also have a hard time calculating things or struggle to problem solve.
If this sounds familiar, you’re certainly not alone. Dr Brennan strongly believes the pandemic has exacerbated the issue. Among those recovering from Covid-19, it’s also become a huge problem, with many citing brain fog as a sign of long Covid.
So, what exactly is brain fog?
“Brain fog isn’t a diagnosis, disease or a disorder,” explains Dr Brennan, who has written the soon-to-be-published book, Beating Brain Fog. It occurs when the brain cannot function properly.
This can happen as a result of many factors, such as: hormonal imbalance, a side-effect of medication, illness, infection, inflammation, an auto-immune response, chronic pain, nutritional deficiency, inadequate or poor quality sleep, poorly managed chronic stress and even lack of exercise.
“These factors can interfere with brain functioning in a variety of ways,” she says.
What can you do about it?
Dr Brennan says lifestyle changes are important to beat brain fog. Here are her tips for pushing past it.
1. Prioritise sleep
Go to bed and get up at the same time every day.
Manage exposure to light. Get at least 30 minutes daylight everyday, dim lights from about 8pm, switch off devices that emit blue light an hour before bed, sleep in complete darkness and expose yourself to daylight or white light when you wake up.
2. Manage stress
Choose your thoughts carefully – keeping negative ones at bay.
Be realistic about what you can achieve and what those around you can achieve.
Embrace challenge, push yourself beyond your comfort zone.
Sit less, stand more.
Integrate movement into your day however you can.
4. Eat well
Adopt a Mediterranean diet.
Balance your microbiota. You can do this by exercising, getting enough fibre in your diet (women should aim for about 25 grams daily and men 38 grams) and eating a varied diet.
Focus on what you can do, not on what you can’t.
Declutter your brain. Get as much information out of your brain and on to paper or electronic devices.
Remove distractions and avoid multi-tasking.
Beating Brain Fog (£14.99) will be published by Orion Spring on 4 March 2021.
This new year, we focus on fun, not denial (because we’ve all had enough of that). Follow our month-long plan, with a new ‘Here, Try This’ idea each day, spanning easy ways to engage your body and mind, inspiration for your food and home, and tips for boosting how you feel – inside and out.