"Brain fog." Most of us have experienced that unwelcome (but thankfully temporary) condition of ineffectiveness characterized by lack of focus, forgetfulness, and muted mental clarity. Brain fog seizes your mind and prevents you from accomplishing tasks that demand any level of conscious thinking. If you haven't fallen prey to brain fog, consider yourself very fortunate.
What can cause brain fog? Apparently a wide variety of things, including food sensitivities, allergies, unregulated blood sugar, stress and anxiety, and others. And lucky us, ladies! Our tricky hormones can make us more prone to it.
When brain fog strikes, it kills productivity in the present -- and it can have a ripple effect into the future, as tasks done under the influence of brain fog may need to be redone because of errors.
No busy business owner has time for that!
So what can you do to keep brain fog at bay so it doesn't come in between you and your best laid plans? Here are some tips that can help:
Exercise. I love working out and have always found it to be one of the best ways to keep my head from getting foggy. And there's scientific research that supports the benefits of exercise on our brains. According to Heidi Godman, Executive Editor of the Harvard Health Letter, "Many studies have suggested that the parts of the brain that control thinking and memory (the prefrontal cortex and medial temporal cortex) have greater volume in people who exercise versus people who don't."
Eat for your brain. Foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids have been known to help improve brain function, so you might try to incorporate more of them into your daily routine. And eating clean in general to avoid artificial ingredients can make a difference in your ability to focus. Certain food additives, like artificial sweeteners, have been identified as neurotoxins that can adversely affect your brain's mojo.
Take breaks. Sometimes brain fog can be brought on by simply overdoing it. Step away from your work -- even if only for a few minutes -- when your thoughts show any sign of running in circles. Consider using an approach like the Pomodoro Technique to ensure you're taking breaks mindfully for optimal performance.
Avoid overcommitting. Episodes of brain fog can become a regular occurrence if you're always piling too much on your professional and personal plates. Prioritize and say "no" to commitments that don't align with your goals or that will spread your time and energy too thin.
For me, personally, preventing brain fog by embracing activities that refresh my thoughts and help me maintain a positive mindset is my most effective line of defense. For example, I find reading/listening to motivational books/audio books (such as "The Secret" or a Tony Robbins inspirational session) a wonderful way to accomplish that. I also attend a book club, which is a meditation group, where I'm surrounded with people who are uplifting and positive. Both my husband/business partner and my business mentor help me maintain focus, as well, through their feedback and suggestions when I'm pushing myself beyond my comfort zone.
Even the most accomplished entrepreneurs find themselves fighting brain fog from time to time, so don't get too frustrated when it happens to you. When the fog rolls in, pay attention to what you have and have not been doing that may be contributing to it. Identifying what triggers your periods of clouded thinking is the first step toward figuring out how to nip brain fog in the bud so it won't destroy your productivity.