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Have you ever walked into a room to be completely clueless as to why you did in the first place? Are you often stricken with brain fog and anxiety?
You’re left wandering around the house trying to remember what was so important. Was it so important? Oh no what if it was really important!
Believe it or not but this happens to most people in our society and is just assumed to be a normal occurrence. Brain fog and anxiety associated with it should not be a normal occurrence. But since you’ve lived most of your life with it you wouldn’t know any different.
What Is The Deal With Brain Fog and Anxiety?
Do you suffer any of these things?
Forgetful, have a hard time remembering what you ate yesterday or even this morning?
Struggle to learn, inability to focus properly
Slow to process things
Loss of creativity
The need to read the same line 2 to 3 times for it to sink in
Require caffeine to be even the least bit productive
If you ticked any of these off the list then you most likely suffer from brain fog. If you’re like me, you may have been suffering this for your entire life and just never knew any better!
If I didn’t get my morning coffee I would be as useful as a paper weight and nothing more. Ask yourself when was the last time you’ve attempted to work with no stimulant? Did it work out well for you?
Here is some bad news. Living like this makes it incredibly difficult to progress in life and at work. Whether you’re an office worker in a large corporation, a construction worker or an online blogger and entrepreneur like myself. Living with brain fog massively lowers your potential for success!
But there is a silver lining! There is some good news to ease your brain fog and anxiety. There are steps you can take that don’t involve cutting your head open and blowing out the fog! You just need to work at it.
There are several reasons and causes for brain fog so you must ask yourself…
Why Do I Feel This Way?
Your body or more specifically your brain has some requirements in order to stay clear. Your brain needs serotonin to remain calm and positive. It needs adequate dopamine to make you feel satisfied with your choices and actions in life. It needs controlled and limited cortisol levels to not rise too high, so it can remain calm. Your body also needs stable blood sugar levels and adequate hydration.
There are many different things that can affect each one of these in your body and so there are some key questions you need to ask yourself to understand why you suffer from brain fog.
Am I Stressed?
Too much stress can increase blood pressure, hurt your immune system and bring about depression. High stress leads to exhaustion and high levels of cortisol which will cause anxiety. Stress can also lower your sex drive, causes headaches, increase risk of heart attack and cause difficulty sleeping. This leads to your next question.
Do I get enough sleep?
Do you struggle to fall asleep or stay asleep during the night? Whether your insomnia is acute or chronic it will have a massive negative impact on your health and living. Insomnia can be caused by stress and anxiety (it can also be the cause of stress and anxiety), depression, diet, medications and stimulants.
Eating too much food (especially the bad kind) can cause issues with sleep as the body is diverting energy to digesting the food and not recovering through sleep. I highly suggest NOT eating any food within 3 hours of going to bed. Avoid bad sugary foods that will disrupt your blood sugar levels.
Avoid drinking coffee or anything caffeinated at all but especially within 8 hours of going to bed. Alcohol will affect your sleep too so be sure to avoid that! You might think it helps you get to sleep but it affects the quality of your REM sleep which will make you toss and turn. It’s important to get 8 hours of quality sleep. Sleeping for 8 hours without deep and restful sleep is as bad as sleeping for half of that time.
What is the quality of my diet like?
Diet is in my opinion the biggest cause for brain fog. More specifically a bad diet is the biggest cause. A bad diet often leads to deficiencies in essential nutrients and vitamins which can cause disruptions in hormone production and low energy/fatigue.
When you eat your body diverts more blood and energy to your stomach to digest your food. This means less blood and energy for your brain. If you eat unhealthy foods that are more difficult to digest then even more energy is used in this process. Are you ready for a nap after each meal?
This may even occur if you are eating foods you believe to be healthy. Many people have food allergies and don’t realise. Eating a food that your body struggles to digest can cause massive energy loss and brain fog. Take myself for example; I cannot digest cabbage or broccoli efficiently. They are very healthy vegetables to eat but my body struggles to digest them making me very tired and lowering my metabolism.
How much alcohol do I consume?
Even just one glass of wine or scotch a night is enough to induce brain fog and anxiety over longer periods. You may think 1 or 2 drinks won’t hurt you but this in simply not true. One drink is enough to disrupt ability to get a deep quality sleep. This will disrupt your hormone balance and may bring about many more health issues such as lower sex drive, low energy and fatigue.
This in itself can induce brain fog however consuming alcohol also weakens your willpower making you more vulnerable to night time temptations.
How active am I during the day?
Do you have an office job indoors sitting at a desk for 8 or more hours every day? Do you sit on your couch and watch TV and play games when you’re at home.
Here is something incredibly important you should know. Our bodies are meant to move! We have come a long way as a species in the animal kingdom and our bodies are not accustomed to sitting around all day. We need to move and we need to move in the sun.
Being physically inactive will hurt you in so many ways. It slows your metabolism and disrupts hormone production. Living a sedentary lifestyle also increases risk of heart disease, diabetes, cancer and other diseases. It also causes anxiety and depression.
What Can I Do to Relieve My Brain Fog and Anxiety?
So now that you know the biggest causes for brain fog you want take steps to fix your problems? I have outlined for you some things you need to and some things you should do.
Practise Deep Breathing Exercises:
Air is the most vital thing the human body needs for a strong vitality. Breathing is the most important function of our bodies and so it may be surprising to find out that most people don’t breathe correctly.
The majority of grown adults breathe through their chests. Particularly in our society today that says thin is attractive and fat is ugly. People instinctively try to shrink the appearance of their belly by breathing through their chest. But this is wrong. Have you ever paid attention to how a child breaths? They breathe without worrying what they look like, and they breathe instinctively through their bellies, or more specifically their diaphragm.
This is known as diaphragmic breathing or belly breathing. When you become stressed your body instinctively breathes quick and shallow breaths. But did you know you can cause stress and anxiety just by simulating quick and shallow breaths? Try it out yourself, breathe fast and frantic breaths and feel your heart rate start to rise.
The opposite effect occurs when you breathe deep. This can be a difficult practise to adapt because for a long time you need to be consciously aware of how you are breathing. You need to ask yourself several times a minute, “Am I breathing into my diaphragm?”
It may take months to become your normal breathing habit. If you have an incredibly stressful job it is an excellent idea to take 5 minutes out of every hour to relax, meditate and breathe into your belly.
One other great tip for dealing with stress and also increasing productivity at work is to listen to calming music or sounds such as rainfall. Avoid at all costs fast paced loud music like heavy metal. Studies show certain types of music will increase productivity in the workplace and silence can hurt productivity.
Be sure to take regular stretch breaks if you sit in an office all day long. Stand up every 30 minutes and go for a little walk to stretch your legs.
As I mentioned before going to sleep on a full tummy will hurt your sleep cycle. Energy is diverted to digesting food rather than recovering from the busy stress of the day. Not to mention unhealthy foods will amplify this issue.
Alcohol will help you fall asleep faster but it skips an important cycle of your sleep that is REM sleep. You will not have a restful sleep if you consume alcohol before bedtime.
No Stimulants after Noon
It’s best if you take no stimulants at all however if you absolutely must, do not consume after 12pm. Stimulants like coffee or energy drinks are nasty for messing with sleep cycles. Especially if consumed over a long period of time, you may develop adrenal fatigue which will amplify your brain fog and anxiety. In this situation you definitely need to stop consuming stimulants all together.
Try to replace your morning coffee with warm lemon water and green tea, and supplement with vitamin b-12. This will give you a much cleaner and longer lasting energy.
Switch off the electronics
Turn off your television and phones before going to bed (an hour at least but the more the better). The light emitted from electronic devices triggers your brain to think the sun is still up. When the sun goes down our brains produce a chemical known as melatonin. This chemical is what induces sleepiness. Watching TV or browsing through your phone will severely limit your melatonin levels and make it really difficult to fall into a deep sleep.
Stick to your body clock and keep to a regular schedule. Get up at the same time every day. This will help your body get into a routine and over time will make falling asleep easier.
Don’t overtrain in the gym
Working out is the best way to stay in shape and keep the body functioning properly. However working out too much and overtraining your body will shut down your nervous system and endocrine system. This can make it incredibly difficult to get to sleep at night.
Another cause for brain fog and anxiety is a bad diet. Being deficient in vital nutrients can cause brain fog among many other things such as sugar cravings and chronic fatigue. Don’t eat too many carbohydrates and avoid the bad ones all together. Eat low GI carbs such as oatmeal and wholegrain bread and pasta. Avoid white bread and pasta.
Eat a minimum of 5 servings of vegetables every day making sure you eat green vegetables. You can’t just eat 5 servings of potatoes and expect to be healthy!
Consuming too much sugar can eventually lead to insulin resistance and pre-diabetes. Did you know that 1 in 3 Americans are pre-diabetic?
People who have never attempted a fasting plan before usually shy away from it because when you are feeling hungry you tend to lose focus. This may be the case for the first couple of days on a fasting plan when your body hasn’t quite adapted to it. However once you have adapted, you will find that you have heightened mental clarity while in a fasted state.
A common fasting plan is intermittent fasting where you skip breakfast and have lunch be your first meal of the day. Usually this is around 2pm. Brain fog and anxiety is quite often caused from a bad diet. Or more specifically caused from insulin resistance brought about by bad eating habits.
Fasting also increases norepidephrine production in the brain which is a chemical to raise mental alertness. It also lowers inflammation which is another key factor in reducing brain fog and anxiety. Adopting the intermittent fasting lifestyle will bring back insulin sensitivity and increase alertness.
Make sure to walk around the block every day for a minimum of 30 minutes. Early in the morning is the best time for this as it will help with getting to sleep at night. Daily exercise is essential in keeping your body functioning properly. Being sedentary will slow your metabolism down which slows the rate that your body converts food into energy. This will cause fatigue and the feeling like you need coffee to be productive.
Yoga is also great for clearing brain fog and anxiety. It gets the blood pumping while you work through stretching tight muscle fibres.
If yoga isn’t your thing (guys you can do yoga, it’s actually amazing trust me) you can find some time and space to do a calisthenic bodyweight workout. Squats, push-ups, jumping jacks, star jumps and various abdominal training are all great exercises to do. Or hit the gym for a good weight session! Personally I struggle with focus during the day if I don’t hit the weights first thing in the morning.
Just make sure not to stress your body too much and overtrain. You can tax your adrenals out and cause even more issues.
There are many causes of brain fog and most of these causes are actually linked. This means to fix one you must work on all of these issues.
Bad diet, inadequate exercise, vitamin deficiencies including vitamin D produced from exposure to sunlight. Insufficient sleep and high stress levels can all cause brain fog and anxiety. Many of these issues need to be worked on daily for a healthy lifestyle.
Doing a 180 degree turn and drastically changing your life in one day is not sustainable. So start slow, but start wide. Cover all of these areas one step at a time. Remember you need to make lifestyle changes that will last.