Could you be experiencing menopausal brain fog?
Where did I park my car again?
Wait, what was I saying?
At some point or another, we’ve all had these thoughts. Whether you’re unsure where you parked at the supermarket or you’ve lost your train of thought during a great story, brain lapses happen to us all.
And is it really any surprise!?!
We live in an “always on” society. Our phones constantly ping away with notifications, as do our emails – work and personal. Our schedules are filled with extracurriculars, household chores, and special work projects. We are all undoubtedly living in a climate of ‘overload’.
But it could be that we are experiencing brain fog.
Brain fog is an umbrella term for certain symptoms that affect your ability to think clearly, for example, memory loss or an inability to focus. But while forgetfulness and memory lapses are often conflated with ageing, they are also relatively common during menopause.
One study reported that around 60% of middle-aged women may suffer from cognitive difficulties and problems with concentration, with memory issues peaking during perimenopause, which can last between 4-12 years.
When we experience brain fog we may have:
There is no definitive answer for when, and whether, you will experience menopausal brain fog, because every woman’s body will react differently to the unique ways her hormones fluctuate during perimenopause.
There is no one menopause experience.
However, research shows that certain decreases in cognitive function (attention/working memory, verbal learning, verbal memory, and fine motor skill) are more evident in the first year after the final menstrual period (postmenopause).
In the early stages of menopause, many women describe changes in their ability to think clearly, make decisions and function well mentally.
And many of us, including me, experience difficulty assimilating and making use of new information. This can actually be a debilitating and anxiety provoking symptom of perimenopause and menopause.
Since hormones oestrogen, progesterone, follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH), and luteinizing hormone (LH) play a role in cognition, scientists hypothesise that fluctuating hormone levels during perimenopause are responsible for brain fog.
Though other menopausal symptoms, such as hot flushes, night sweats, sleep issues, anxiety, and depression, may contribute to memory problems, they don’t appear to be the primary cause of brain fog. Instead, evidence suggests that hormonal changes — in particular, those associated with oestrogen — are more likely to cause cognitive challenges in menopausal women.
So what is one new way of approaching our daily to-do list that can support our brains….we can try shifting from the ‘norm’ of multi-tasking, and become a
Let me tell you some of the reasons why this can be super helpful for our brain fog during menopause not to be a multi-tasker
And so here are some tried and tested tips on how NOT to multi-task:
1.First set up to-do lists for different contexts (i.e. calls, computer, errands, home, waiting-for, etc.) depending on your situation
2. Have a capture tool (such as a notebook) for instant notes on what needs to be done.
3. Plan your day in blocks, with open blocks in between for urgent stuff that comes up. You might try one-hour blocks, or half-hour blocks, depending on what works for you. Or try this: 25 minute blocks, with 5 minutes in between them to rest your eyes, mind, stretch your body. This is known as the Pomodoro Technique.
4.When you are working on a task in a time block, turn off all other distractions. Shut off email, and the Internet if possible. Shut off your mobile phone. Try not to answer your phone if possible. Focus on that one task, and try to get it done without worrying about other stuff.
And most important to remember – If you feel the urge to check your email or switch to another task, stop yourself. Breathe deeply. Re-focus yourself. Get back to the task at hand.
Now let me share with you 7 other natural brain fog hacks.
1. Gut Reset
Did you know that the gut contains bacteria that affect the brain? Eating a lot of highly processed foods may even kill off some of that healthy bacteria in your gut, potentially causing symptoms of brain fog. During a gut reset, take a seven-day break from processed foods, dairy, gluten, and other ingredients that may cause inflammation.
2. Cat-Cow Pose
Cat-cow is one of the most common yoga poses, and it’s great for circulating spinal fluid. Take a few minutes at the start of your day to get a deep spinal flex with this pose. For a little extra stretch, add in some side-to-side movements or roll the head in a circular motion. And if you want to watch how to do this pose, check out my Instagram post on three yoga poses for brain fog. These poses support blood flow to our brains, increases oxygen circulation in the brain, enhancing alertness.
Or head to another of my blog posts on why yoga is so good for us during our menopause journeys.
3. Take a B Vitamin
A vitamin B12 deficiency can cause problems with energy, memory, mood, and mental clarity. If you feel like your brain is foggy, the solution may be as simple as taking a B12 vitamin!
4. Get Quality Sleep
Aim for at least seven hours of sleep per night. Getting adequate rest may help clear up brain fog. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, and screens in the evening if possible. Use the last half-hour or so before bed to read and wind down. Check out my Instagram post on how to use sleep mantras to help you unwind.
5. Exercise Regularly
Exercise releases endorphins, which improve mood. Furthermore, exercise can help promote blood flow and reduce inflammation… all good things for people experiencing symptoms of brain fog! Fancy giving yoga a try for free? Join up to my monthly membership and get your first 7 days free – so you can try out menopause yoga – designed to support specific sets of menopause symptoms.
6. Manage Stress
High levels of stress can cause anxiety, depression, hormonal imbalances, and other health issues related to an increased production of cortisol. While there are many good reasons for managing stress, clearing up brain fog is a great motivation to start! Take a look at my blog on how to integrate more laughter into your day during menopause, and how laughter is such as easy way to relieve stress.
7. Fuel Your Brain
Input equals output, right? Consider giving your brain the boost it needs with a supplement that offers healthy brain support. The right kind of fuel may assist your brain by supporting memory formation and recall and reducing anxiety. Fancy some new ideas on how to use food to support yourself during your menopause transition and beyond? I can highly recommend Emma Flints’ the Happy Hormone Cookbook which takes you through wholesome nutritious eating, with over 80 easy to prepare whole food recipes, all based on nourishing and balancing your body during peri-, meno-, and post-menopause.
So now you’ve read this, please take a few deep breaths, stretch, and get those breaks now and then into your day. Enjoy life!
Did you find this blog helpful? Want to learn more about your menopause transition? If you’re looking for inspiration on how to support you to have a positive menopause journey please read my blog “Why it is important to think about our menopause as our ‘Second Spring’?”
Wanting to find emotional balance during your menopause transition in a one-to-one with me – set up a discovery call and let’s have a chat.