Why We Feel Exhausted And Irritable And Lack Focus During The Pandemic : Shots Health News : NPR

However, some health conditions may cause persistent brain fog. COVID-19 can cause inflammation in the brain, which can affect the ability of neurons in the brain to communicate with each other, resulting in brain fog. However, the stress, anxiety, isolation, and threat of the coronavirus pandemic can also indirectly cause brain fog, since it can be exhausting for your brain, says Romanoff.

how to stop your brain from feeling like mush

Donepezil (Aricept), a treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease, may also help those with brain fog from MS. People should also drink enough fluid to prevent dehydration but limit the intake of caffeine and alcohol, as these can affect sleep and energy levels. If a person has pauses in breathing at night that interfere with their sleep quality, they may have sleep apnea.

Tips to Beat Brain Fog, Foster Focus, and Improve Mental Clarity

It’s hard to know if this is linked to the loss of energy and motivation that comes with depression, or if depression affects your brain in a way that causes the fog. Treatment for your depression, which includes medication and talk therapy, should help get you back on track. The results can help ease your mind or set you on the right path to get treatment. Even in our twenties, we might lose our keys or forget the name of someone we just met.

For this reason, everyone with these symptoms, even people in their seventies and beyond, should be screened for depression. The rise in symptoms of anxiety and depression, which include exhaustion, is a predictable response to the trauma of the pandemic, says Dr. Sandro Galea, dean of the School of Public Health at Boston University. When you have chronic fatigue syndrome, you’re more than a bit sleepy.

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If you’re feeling cognitively fuzzy, consider how well you’ve been snoozing. Below are some frequently asked questions relating to brain fog and anxiety. For example, research shows that anxiety notably impacts a person’s working memory and many other mental processes.

  • The first several months after having COVID-19 should be spent trying to resume prior activities as much as possible.
  • Adenosine is purged by your body as you sleep, but when you wake up, there are still trace amounts lingering in your system, causing this residual tiredness.
  • The most common sources of heavy metal exposure are arsenic, mercury, aluminum, lead, thallium, and cesium.
  • Vitamin B12 supports healthy brain function, and a vitamin B12 deficiency can bring about brain fog, according to a 2021 research review.

Crystal Raypole has previously worked as a writer and editor for GoodTherapy. Her fields of interest include Asian languages and literature, Japanese translation, cooking, natural sciences, sex positivity, and mental health. In particular, she’s committed to helping decrease stigma around mental health issues. Trying to keep working through a patch of brain fog generally isn’t the best solution, especially if you feel anxious about the outcome of what you’re trying to do.


A more useful antidote to brain mush starts from the neuroscientific insight that, to simplify a little, you only can ever focus on one thing at a time. Feelings of mush or distraction are often the result of flitting rapidly between multiple objects of focus without being aware of it. You can train yourself to do less of this flitting, for example with meditation (provided you can bring yourself to focus on that). Brain health is not only critical to mental capacity but is also paramount to emotional wellbeing. Your feelings and your thoughts are intimately connected and to feel good, you have to think good. At Parsley Health, we’re all about optimization, and we have many members that come to us looking for better mental focus, clarity, and brain power.

In order to reduce stress, you need to flex your parasympathetic nervous system, which is engaged during rest and relaxation and helps to calm your body and your mind. You can do this by incorporating more meditation and yoga into your routine. The classic mistake people make with their brains, whether it’s dealing with work, school or whatever looming project deadline, is that they try to maximize their time by staying up late and/or getting up early. This typically backfires because cognitive abilities decrease with sleep deprivation. Sleep at least seven hours nightly, preferably eight or even nine when possible. The quality of your work will increase while the time it takes to produce such quality work will diminish.

Brain fog is a symptom that can be caused by stress, sleep changes, medications, and other factors. Even if you believe your brain fog relates to anxiety, it’s still a good idea to talk to your healthcare provider to rule out other causes of brain fog. But if you regularly don’t get enough sleep, you’ll likely start to notice some negative consequences, https://ecosoberhouse.com/article/the-abstinence-violation-effect-meaning-when-recovering/ including irritability, daytime sleepiness, and — you guessed it — difficulty concentrating. Also, stress, tiredness (from poor sleep which is also a problem during the menopause journey), poor diet and lack of exercise can affect your cognition. Declining levels of oestrogen and progesterone are also responsible for cognition.

Does brain fog affect your vision?

When your levels are too low, you may have “brain fog” or feeling like you have a fuzzy head. It may also affect your vision, and make your eyes feel puffy.

But noticing opportunities to incorporate new things into your everyday routines—even taking a new route on your walk or trying out a new recipe—could give your brain a fun workout without adding more to your to-do list. One of the best tools for stress-busting or fighting depression is exercise. If we want to reduce stress and keep sharp, there are ways to tone down our media consumption and be more intentional about mush brain how we consume our news. For example, once you’ve read an update on what’s happening abroad in Ukraine, you might skip watching 24-hour cable news where the same stories are repeated ad nauseam. You might limit your use of social media, as doing so can help you feel less lonely, depressed, and anxious. Studies also show that it can reduce levels of cortisol, which is the chemical produced when the body is under stress.

Not eating enough, or not getting the right nutrients, can make it difficult to focus. Even if you only have 15 minutes to spare some days, spend that time doing something you love. Exercise your brain and memory with crossword puzzles (Wordle is a great start!), quizzes, socialise or take up a new hobby. Sabina Brennan, PhD, is a health psychologist, neuroscientist, host of the Super Brain podcast and author of two Irish Times No. 1 bestsellers, Beating Brain Fog and 100 Days to a Younger Brain.

how to stop your brain from feeling like mush

“If we could just get to the point where we could be talking about the stuff more openly, we’d feel a lot less alone.” I think that because so many people are struggling with this and because it is so normal, everybody has something to say. If we could just get to the point where we could be talking about the stuff more openly, we’d feel a lot less alone.

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Instead, it’s the name for the group of symptoms many of us experience, and it can be caused by a whole host of things. During the pandemic, I began learning to speak Greek in anticipation of future travel there. It was certainly a cognitive challenge—one that was fun and, hopefully, will help stave off dementia (which happens to run in my family). You probably know people who’ve used lockdown restrictions as an opportunity to learn to play a new instrument, write poems or stories, study their history, or build furniture. You’ll also want to get better rest, which of course is easier said than done for patients with long Covid, those who are undergoing chemotherapy or experiencing life changes such as pregnancy or menopause.

  • The other day, my friend Kristina told me that one evening she unintentionally locked her husband in a downstairs part of their house.
  • “They may have struggled during the time of the challenges but generally come out OK on the other end.”
  • Brain fog isn’t well-defined in the scientific community, but it can easily impact your mood, productivity, and quality of life.
  • To maintain a regular practice, lean in to activities you find enjoyable.
  • If you don’t make time for self-care and relaxation, though, you’ll just keep adding to your stress.

RISE users on iOS 1.202 and above can click here to see their upcoming energy peaks and dips on the Energy screen and here to set up their avoid late meals reminder. Unfortunately, newspapers, TV news programs, and many social media sites make their money by grabbing your attention—and nothing grabs attention better than negative news. But repeated exposure to crises wreaks havoc with our well-being and can lead to bad decision making. The doctor may also conduct allergy testing or a sleep study to check for a sleep disorder. People who have fibromyalgia may experience similar fogginess on a daily basis, according to a 2015 research review. When your brain is exhausted, it becomes harder to think, reason, and focus.

Banish Brain Fog with a Good Night’s Sleep

As a cognitive behavioral neurologist, I’ve been hearing from many individuals who are complaining of “brain fog” after infection with COVID-19. So I thought it was worth discussing exactly what COVID-19 brain fog is, and some things to do that might help clear it. Separately, researchers have found that more people with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), as opposed to those without, may develop Alzheimer’s disease or dementia, according to the National Institute on Aging.

How do you drain brain fog?

  1. stay hydrated.
  2. get enough sleep.
  3. take regular exercise, ideally outside.
  4. eat a healthy, balanced diet.
  5. keep to a healthy weight.
  6. try meditation.
  7. take regular breaks.
  8. do things you enjoy – for example socialising with friends and family.


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