My immune system has been compromised for years with frequent colds and various viral plagues. And I was recently diagnosed with IBD. When this happens, brain fog can really be a struggle. When I feel like this, I have no motivation at all to anything that requires mental focus. And not only that, it makes my chronic illness and pain worse. I’m learning to improve the lag time that I usually struggle with and I wanted to share my 5 simple tips to recover from brain fog, illness or any time you might be struggling with focus.
Disclaimer: I’m not a medical professional, just a recovering exhausted mom. Please discuss any concerning symptoms with your health care professional.
Brain Fog Symptoms
Brain fog can be caused by a number of things including chronic illness, medications, stress, lack of sleep, diet and hormonal changes. The biggest symptom for most people is difficulty thinking, focusing or struggling to construct a sentence. While many seniors are concerned about brain fog, many young or overwhelmed moms also struggle with it.
5 Ways to Get Rid of Brain Fog
The longer you stay in bed, the harder it can be to get moving again. No matter how awful you’re feeling, take some gentle and simple movement breaks, even if it’s just to go and sit outside. Moving around gets your lymph glads and your brain to come back to life. Gentle yoga is great for this.
As much as I’ve heard this advice throughout my life, often the first thing that goes when I get sick is adequate fluid intake. Not drinking will slow down recovery and make you feel even worse. So fill up a big cup with your favorite flavored water combination and some crushed ice. You’ll notice an immediate difference in your overall wellness.
I really struggle with nausea and loss of appetite at times. When this happens, I have no motivation to eat well and days will go by where I eat mainly soft foods and few fruits or vegetables. Not only that, but I struggle with sugar cravings too. Following a simple low carb diet and eliminating sugar and processed food will help you feel better.
In our hyper, driven society rest is a foreign concept to many women, and with good reason – we just don’t have the time to rest! But we’ve got to carve out that essential time to rest. This is when we give our bodies a chance to heal and rejuvenate. If we keep running on empty, sooner or later we’ll pay the price, possibly with a compromised autoimmune system, adrenal fatigue or other health concerns.
Just Pick One Task to Start
When you’re coming back after illness, it can be really overwhelming to look around the house at the mess and your running to do list. First, get out your journal. Get back into gear by focusing on one simple task and get that done. Then move on to the next task. Choose wisely and then put your hair in a scrunchy, drink some coffee and blast your music…whatever gets you going and get it done! Doing this will usually bring your focus right back and after getting through a few tasks you’ll find that you can start to multitask if the need arises.
As you get better, aim to start your day with a little planning. List your must-do items in a journal and do them one at a time. Multi-tasking may make you feel industrious but research shows again and again that we can focus better and stay more productive by tackling one task at a time.
Review and Refocus
When you find yourself struggling with staying focused, stop and take a minute to review what you’re doing. Why are you struggling? Are you still feeling sick or struggling with distraction? Once you know what’s causing you to lose focus, you can address it. That might mean that have to rethink your task list or try to break things down into manageable chunks. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to admit defeat and cutting yourself some slack if you’re feeling awful. In that case, do what you can, but don’t beat yourself up for not being at the top of your game.
Food Supplements for Brain Fog
You may also want to investigate supplements for brain fog. The most important thing you can do nutritionally is to eat a healthy whole foods diet. Do your research to find what works best for you, such as the Paleo, Keto or Vegetarian diets. We’re all different and will have different responses. Listen to your body! However, supplementation may be necessary as well to improve the gut brain connection.
“Other than thyroid hormones, vitamin D is the only other hormone every cell of your body needs to thrive. Low levels of vitamin D have been linked to everything such as increased depression and suicide rates, decreased memory, and cases of Alzheimer’s.”
“In a study appearing in the American Journal of Clinical Medicine, 176 adults with normal memory function and generally poor dietary intakes of DHA were placed on a DHA supplement for six months. Their memory function was evaluated at the beginning of the trial, and at its conclusion. In both males and females, there was a marked increase in memory function comparing those that were given DHA versus those who received a placebo pill.
If you have IBD, you may have malabsorption issues that could put you at risk for developing deficiencies that may be difficult to reverse through diet alone. Not only that, but alcohol and certain medications like antidepressants and heartburn medicines can increase your need for B vitamins.
Adding a good Vitamin B complex can help to reduce brain fog and improve your mood very quickly, but it can take several months to reverse a deficiency.
Essential Oils for Brain Fog
Rosemary Essential Oil. A fast and simple way to boost your focus is to inhale some high quality Rosemary essential oil. The terpene levels in rosemary essential oil easily pass the blood brain barrier for fast results. It’s thought that memory can improve up to 75% just by inhaling Rosemary.
Other essential oils you might want to consider for improved mental focus are lavender, citrus, peppermint, frankincense and blends especially formulated for brain health like this one:
Recovering from Brain Fog
Finally, if you’ve been too ill to shower for a day or two (or more!) treat yourself to a hot shower with some nice soap and a sugar scrub. Even if you have to go right back to bed, you’ll feel so much better.
You may not be as productive as you would on a day when you’re feeling awesome, but these tips will help you to move back toward productivity mode. You might even find that once you’ve taken that hardest first step, you’ll get your groove back and really find your focus again.
It’s a slow process. Stick with your new habits and you’ll start to feel better and better with each passing week.