Clear your mind and boost your memory with these holistic tips to beat brain fog
Poor concentration, failure to recall simple information, low-level confusion: do these symptoms sound familiar? They might if you suffer from ‘brain fog’. Characterised as an inability to focus, or a lack of mental clarity, this frustrating problem is on the rise thanks to our busy modern lives, yet is not formally recognised as a medical condition. So how do we clear the fog? First, determine the cause; anything from tech to pollution could be the culprit. We’ve rounded up a team of experts to share their tips for a sharper mind, the natural way.
Digital devices are designed to make life easier, but receiving information all day can lead to mind overwhelm and become counterproductive. Ruth Kudzi, business mentor and mindset coach (ruthkudzi.com) explains, “Technology can have a negative impact on our productivity and performance. If you have alerts on your laptop or phone it is difficult to focus and performance is diminished with different things vying for attention and interfering with our ability to achieve our goal.
“Reduce the cognitive load by mapping out your day in 45-60 minute chunks to focus on one task. During this time switch off alerts, your phone and use a timer so you can be solely occupied with one task. This will help rebuild your focus muscle and you’ll be surprised how much you get done.
Another way to reduce the overload is to have time without devices – spending time in nature, in silence or meditating is ideal, but even a device-free lunch break will help you feel clearer headed.”
Researchers at University College Cork found a direct connection between our brain and gut, which they call ‘the gut-brain axis’: a two-way dialogue transmitting information from the gut to the brain, and vice versa. It makes sense, then, to have our gut functioning in tip-top condition for a healthy mind. PhD research scientist Dr Eileen Murphy says, “The gut produces 90 percent of the body’s serotonin and bacteria can influence its production in the gut. This discovery led to the development of the 1714-Serenitas TM bacterial culture – now harnessed in the natural probiotic supplement, Zenflore (£29.99 for 30 capsules), which uses a unique culture clinically proven to reduce stress and anxiety and boost activity in the areas of the brain associated with emotions, learning and memory.”
Most of us will have experienced the mindmuddying effects of stress, so it’s unsurprising that this can be a cause of brain fog. Dr. Sarkhel, Lead Psychiatrist at livingmind.co.uk says, “Problems with memory, concentration and confusion are all symptoms that are often due to issues including anxiety, depression, stress or OCD. Many patients report that their brain fog cleared after repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation (RTMS) for anxiety and depression.
“RTMS is a non-invasive treatment whereby a coil is placed next to the area of the brain associated with the condition being treated. A magnetic pulse is passed through the skull which creates a small electric current to stimulate neurons to become more active. By controlling these currents we can increase or decrease activity in the parts of the brain associated with the condition being treated. Most recipients feel a noticeable effect after three to four weeks.”
Eastern medicine tells us the natural flow of qi determines our health and wellbeing and that when this is blocked or becomes toxic we experience problems like fatigue, stress, anxiety and mental fog. Londonbased energy healer Master Oh (masteroh.com) is a healer with 30 years’ experience in harnessing human energy and delivering treatments by observing the energy system as a whole. He uses wisdom and healing to guide patients through physical, spiritual or emotional blockages in order to thrive. After receiving recharged energy and with emotional blockages released and mind toxins cleared, patients say they experience increased mental clarity, vitality and relieved of stress and anxiety.
We know the toxic effects pollution can have on skin, heart and lungs but a growing body of evidence shows chronic exposure to air pollutants can damage our brains, too. From mental illness to dementia and poor cognitive functioning, high CO2 levels are impacting how our brains work and people in and around cities have it the worst. Urbanites should note a study last year by Kings College London which found mental wellbeing was improved after exposure to nature; take a tip from the Japanese (and Charlotte Church and Kate Middleton) by trying forest bathing. A slow, meditative three hours under a leafy canopy connects you to the natural world and boosts concentration. Visit the Woodland Trust for more info woodlandtrust.co.uk
Bright light increases levels of alertness and improves concentration, but the bad news is we don’t always get our quota in the UK – meaning it’s not just the weather that’s foggy. For optimum mental performance, we all need light to reach our eyes as bright as a clear spring morning, for around 30 minutes a day; on grey days we’ll struggle, leading to worse reaction times and other cognitive problems. A light therapy popup by Lumie saw their portable Vitamin L lights (£75, Lumie.com) installed into a shared London workspace where users reported improved thinking clarity and experienced an immediate boost to mood, productivity, motivation and enthusiasm.
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