Brain fog: What is it and what can you do about it?

Has your head ever felt a little foggy in the middle of the afternoon or after a really stressful week? You're not the only one. 

This is called brain fog, and it can be experienced by anyone (especially high school and college students). To better your mental health, Girls' Life spoke with Lindsay Johnson, a certified college counselor, to get *everything* you need to know about brain fog. 

What is brain fog? 

Brain fog is a symptom that people typically experience with other mental health issues like anxiety, depression or attention deficits. Sometimes brain fog causes problems with memory and can make you more fatigued. This can make completeing homework or paying attention at school very challenging. 

Essentially, your mind feels fuzzy so it's hard to focus on tasks and activities throughout daily life.

What causes it? 

Brain fog can be caused by many things so it can be a little tricky to treat, says Johnson. Some of them include vitamin or nutrient deficiences, autoimmune diseases, or the interaction of chemicals in our bodies (like caffeine or medicines).

It can also be related to mental health issues such as anxiety, stress or depression which can increase the chance of cognitive problems (like brain fog). Johnson also says that new information is showing that people who have had COVID-19 are reporting brain fog as an additional sympton, most likely from lack of sleep. 

How can I prevent it? 

The best way to prevent brain fog is to pay attention to your overall well-being. Johnson suggests using the acronym PLEASE to decrease stress: attend to Physical iLlness, Eat healthy, Avoid drugs and alcohol, Sleep well and Exercise.

Make sure you check in with these tips to make sure we are attending to these needs in our lives!

If I get brain fog, what do I do about it? 

Johnson suggests one of the first things to do is to seek medical advice. Talking to your healthcare provider about your symptoms can help alert them to what tests might be helpful for ruling out any other medical issues.

If you feel like you're getting brain fog, stay in touch with your physical health and mental needs. Get *plenty* of rest, eat healthy, exercise and meditate. There's no shame in checking in with a counselor or therapist too. Most importantly, get help when you need it. 

What does "burn out" have to do with brain fog? 

Some people, especially college students, experience brain fog because of "burn out."

When someone is doing more, giving more and working *really* hard, it can make them feel mentally and physically exhausted, says Johnson: "This can be assocated with brain fog, and for these students, when they learn how to be more flexible and open, they can respond in new ways that are less likely to end in burn out with symptoms like brain fog." 

What else do I need to know? 

If there's one thing you *need* to take away from this, it's that learning about yourself and your ways of coping with life's stressors and joys is one step to learning where you can better yourself: "Learning how to cope and manage with brain fog is possible! Don't give up!" 

Struggling with your mental health post-2020? Check out this article to find out what you *need* to do. 

All information has been provided by Lindsay Johnson and has been condensed for clarity. 


by Allie Lijewski | 3/29/2021