What Is Brain Fog?

You may have heard the expression, or even had the experience, but what is brain fog? It is that state of mind when you can’t quite focus or think clearly. As for how to cure it, that depends on the cause. There are two basic kinds of causes.

Physical Causes Of Brain Fog

A lack of sleep can make it difficult to concentrate. Sleep requirements vary, but the bare minimum for almost everyone is somewhere around five hours, and many of us suffer if we sleep less than seven or eight hours. Some research indicates that after a minimum quantity, the quality of sleep is more important to the normal functioning of your brain.

Too much sugar can cause brain fog. To prove this to yourself, eat a piece of sugary cake on an empty stomach and try to do math problems thirty minutes later. What you’ll experience is commonly known as the “sugar blues,” and can leave you tired and irritable. Avoid eating too much sugar if you want mental clarity.

Certain prescription drugs can cause brain fog. Illness, alcohol and even brain damage are possible culprits too. Some of these problems can be remedied on your own, while others will require the help of medical professionals. You may have to experiment a bit to see what helps (talk to your doctor if this means quitting or reducing a prescription).

Mental Causes Of Brain Fog

Specific thoughts and worries can make it tough to think clearly. I refer to these as “mind irritations.” They can easily get in the way of your attempts to focus. Such unresolved thoughts or feelings are often just below consciousness. Just as it would be difficult to concentrate on work in the middle of a chaotic group of people, it is tough to focus a mind full of unwanted thoughts and feelings. An unmade decision that is hanging there, a conversation that wasn’t quite finished, thoughts about the future, and many common worries could all be sapping your brainpower.

A simple mindfulness technique can take care of this problem. Start by watching what’s going on in your head until you become conscious of the “noise” and “characters” in there. Perhaps a thank you card you need to write has been quietly bothering you all day, for example. Maybe you’re worried about an upcoming job interview, or continually reviewing what someone said to you three hours ago.

Pay attention for a minute or two, and once you become aware of these “mind irritations,” do something to resolve each one. You might send that card, for example, or just put it on your “to do” list so your mind can let go of the thought for the moment. If nothing else, bring a problem to full consciousness and tell yourself something like, “There is nothing I can do about this until Thursday.” This categorizing of things as “nothing to worry about now,” will often stop unconscious thoughts from repeating themselves.

Once you have done this a few times, you’ll find it becomes easier to recognize what’s just below the surface, irritating you and preventing concentration. If you take care of those things, clearer thinking is almost guaranteed. Finally, one last suggestion to address one of the potential causes of brain fog: Taking several deep breaths through your nose and letting the tension drain from your body can sometimes clear that brain fog in seconds.