Losing your memory or experiencing mental fog in your 40s, 50s, 60s, or even 70s is not normal. It’s a sign of trouble.
Lost in a Fog
Mental fog can make you feel like you’re underwater or sleepwalking through your days. It can make it challenging to perform your best at work, bring out the worst in your relationships, and make simple tasks seem overwhelming.
Many people experience mental fog after a sleepless night, during a particularly stressful day, or after indulging in a big meal with alcohol. In many cases, these are one-off episodes. However, when the brain is lost in a fog for an extended period, it may be a sign of serious cognitive issues.
Having mental fog can interfere with your everyday life in many ways. Common signs include:
- Memory problems
- Inability to focus or concentrate
- Difficulty processing information
- Trouble problem-solving
- Feelings of confusion or disorientation
- Having a hard time calculating
- Diminished visual and spatial skills
- Trouble finding words
What Causes Mental Fog?
Poor lifestyle choices can lead to premature aging of the brain. Bad diet, lack of sleep, excessive alcohol consumption and/or use of illegal drugs all contribute to impaired brain function.
Here are some other likely contributors to mental fog:
- Food allergies
- Extreme stress
- Low mood
- Hormonal imbalances
- Head injury
Unfortunately, most people just accept a decline in cognitive functioning as a normal part of aging. But that doesn’t have to be the case.
Clearing the Fog
Not everyone – or every brain – ages the same way. Preserving your mental abilities can help improve your brain health so you can have a better quality of life as you grow older. Fortunately, there are several things you can do to prevent cognitive impairment, memory problems, and mental fog.
Adopting these 10 brain-healthy habits can help slow the aging process and boost your recall and cognitive performance.
10 Ways to Sharpen Your Memory & Clear Brain Fog
- Use Mnemonics
These memory aids are a great way to boost your brain while developing a system to remember things. When memorizing a list, associate each item with the most humorous or ridiculous image you can think of to help you recall it later. No one sees the image in your mind, so be creative and have fun with it.
To help you remember names, repeat a person’s name once or twice in conversation. Visualize the name as a picture (perhaps on the person’s forehead) and use their name when saying good-bye.
- Take Note
Note-taking increases comprehension and retention. When you read, take notes in the margin of a book.
If you’re reading a textbook or library book you can’t mark in, keep a notepad handy. Jot down quotes or points you like. Writing things down helps reinforce concepts in your brain and also creates a record that you can refer to in the future.
- Exercise Your Brain
Brain games are excellent for cognition – especially for older adults. Spending a minimum of 15 minutes a day on games such as crossword puzzles, chess, sudoku, and jigsaw puzzles may help improve concentration.
No matter your age, mental exercise can have an overall positive effect on your brain. Cognitive skills tend to dip after graduation from school/college or retirement from work, so don’t stop challenging your brain daily!
- Learning Style
Everyone has a preferred learning style. Do you learn best by reading, listening, talking, writing, or doing? Or some combination?
If you’re an auditory learner, listen to a book on tape. If you’re a kinesthetic learner, take a class where you’ll have hands-on experiences. Try to learn something new every day in the learning style that best suits you.
- Get Quality Sleep
The brain has a special waste management system to help eliminate toxins while you sleep. It’s believed that during the day, as toxins are building up due to your brain’s busy metabolism, the cleaning system isn’t as active.
Without healthy sleep, the cleaning system likely doesn’t have enough time to do its job, and metabolic byproducts can build up. This may well contribute over the long term to mental fog, memory problems, or other cognitive issues. To give the brain sufficient time to remove potentially harmful toxins, it’s recommended that all adults get 7 to 9 hours of sleep each night.
- Ask Questions
Did you know that preschoolers ask between 300 and 400 questions a day? You should never stop asking questions. Remain curious about the world around you. Ask yourself, “What if?” or “I wonder?” and then seek out the answers.
- Meditative Minutes
Meditation has been shown to boost activity in the brain and sharpen your mind. Just a few meditative minutes a day can make a big difference in your ability to think and process information.
Repeating simple words like “May I be safe and secure” can increase positive emotions and decrease negative ones. These meditations can help reduce stress, boost mental clarity, and improve your overall outlook on life.
- Stay Hydrated
Even mild dehydration can impair performance in tasks that require attention, immediate memory skills, and physical performance. Dehydration is also associated with brain atrophy, poor concentration, memory difficulties, diminished school performance, and increased sensitivity to pain.
It’s recommended that you drink plenty of water each day to keep your brain and body adequately hydrated. The current recommendations from Food and Nutrition Board of the Institute of Medicine of the U.S. National Academies are that women consume at least 91 ounces of water and men at least 125 ounces daily, from their foods, beverages and drinking water.
- Don’t Multitask
Can’t find your keys? Maybe it’s because you weren’t consciously aware when you put them down. If you tend to juggle many things at once, you’re bound to forget the little things.
Despite how it may seem in our distracted society, the brain isn’t meant to excessively multitask. The brain functions best when it’s allowed to switch focus from one thing to another, which is why it’s difficult to read a book and hold a conversation at the same time. Intense multitasking tends to slow mental processing, so make it a point to concentrate on one task at a time.
- Active Lifestyle
Physical activity increases blood flow to your whole body, including your brain. It also helps to keep your memory sharp.
Exercise, particularly the aerobic type, delivers extra oxygen to the brain and can stimulate the maturation of new nerve cells in the brain. As a general goal, aim for at least 30 minutes of some form of physical activity at least 5 days a week.
Things to Remember
Regardless of how you’ve treated your brain in the past, you can improve your cognition and memory, and slow brain aging. Applying these practical tips can help lift the mental fog and improve your memory.
Remember, it’s never too late, or early, to adopt brain-healthy habits that can benefit you for the rest of your life. Here’s to a better brain and a better future.
At BrainMD, we’re dedicated to providing the highest purity nutrients to improve your physical health and overall well-being. For more information about our full list of brain healthy supplements, please visit us at BrainMD.
- Anatomy of the Brain: How Well Do You Know Your Brain? - October 12, 2021
- Fluoride Essentials: Is Fluoride Good or Bad for Your Teeth? - October 6, 2021
- Benefits of Probiotics: How to Boost Your Immunity, Brain & Gut Health - September 30, 2021