Photo by: Heart Of Gold Photography
The scene in this morning: In a rush, running downstairs quickly. Arrives in basement. Stops. Looks around. Throws up hands and shouts, "What the hell am I doing down here?" Spins around in circles, feeling the frustration build. Stops, takes a deep breath. Sees the paper towels on the shelf. Sighs with relief! Grabs the paper towels and runs back up the stairs! End Scene.
How many of you can relate?
You're Not Imagining It! Brain Fog And Memory Lapses Are REAL!
It is very common for women forty and over to complain of forgetfulness and difficulty concentrating. Studies have shown that up to 60% of women report a decline in mental clarity and focus when they go through perimenopause. And ladies, there is a physiological reason; the ebb and flow of estrogen! But, hang on, here is the good news, for the majority of us, the fog clears and our cognitive performance recuperates once we are post menopausal!!! So what's a lady to do, when she's leading the meeting or chatting with a friend and her mind goes completely blank? Or better yet, what are some ways we can decrease the likelihood of brain fog even happening?
3 Ways to Support Your Brain on the Daily
1. Eat healthy fats. Think avocados, nuts and seeds, salmon, extra virgin olive oil and yes, dark chocolate. Our brains are made up of 60% fat and healthy fats like omega-3 fats help build brain cells, sharpen memory and protect against cognitive decline.
2. Get moderate exercise. Exercise boosts dopamine production(the feel good hormone) and jumpstarts the attention span. Even as little as 30 minutes/5 days per week can change brain composition and connectivity. And the type of exercise doesn't see to matter. So pick your favorite; dance in your living room, ride your bike, walk at the park, hit the gym. Your choice.
3. Get plenty of sleep. Ladies, over 60% of people report they don't get enough sleep! Lack of sleep impairs cognition and hinders learning. BRAIN FOG!! And we are often sleep deprived due to hot flashes, night sweats and in my cause a bitchy cat the meows all night!! So, I suggest a night time ritual. Something to signal to your brain and body that it's time to sleep. Mine includes, no electronics 30 minutes prior and brushing my teeth and washing my face.
Now, Four Things to do When the Brain Fog Hits You
1. Take a Silent Sigh. A slow deep breath in through the nose, and a somewhat silent sigh out the nose and maybe do that on repeat for a few breaths. You see, sighing is our bodies way of releasing tension, so doing this relaxes the mind and body and helps keep you from going into fight or flight mode which makes it even harder for the brain to work and focus.
2. Get some fresh air or take a break. It's okay to step outside for a moment. Leave the meeting, excuse yourself. For some reason, especially as women, we are afraid to do this. Fresh air reinvigorates you, clears your mind and helps you to refocus and sunshine is an added bonus, as Vitamin D is great for bone and brain health.
3. Drink some water and maybe eat some chocolate (did you notice chocolate has been my answer twice in this post!). Keeping yourself hydrated is vital for proper brain function and when your blood sugar plummets, the brain isn't getting the necessary glucose it needs.
4. Get grounded. Sometimes the to do list gets the best of us and our attention is going in ten different directions. Stop multitasking and ground yourself by checking in with your senses. Notice things you can see, smell, hear, feel and taste. This is a fun one to do with number 2!
So remember this, for most of us, this brain fog and forgetfulness is temporary and not early onset dementia (seriously, I thought that before I knew I was in perimenopause) Be kind and gentle with yourself. Make some space in your life. Rest. Nourish yourself...... Your brain will thank you.
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Registered Yoga Teacher, Menopause Doula, health and wellness explorer, self care expert focused on empowering women over forty with tools for loving the midlife journey