Skip to main content

We’ve updated our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy. By using this site, you agree to these terms.

Geisinger becomes the first member of Risant Health

If a fuzzy-headed feeling has you frustrated, there’s hope. Here’s what to know.

Feeling a little less clear lately? Having trouble focusing on details? It could be brain fog. But there are things you can do to go from partly cloudy to clearer. And they’re easier than you might realize.

What is brain fog?

Brain fog is a common feeling, especially post-pandemic. It’s a term people often use to describe a range of symptoms including memory and attention span.

“Brain fog isn’t a specific medical condition,” says Glen Finney, MD, behavioral neurologist at Geisinger. “Rather, it’s a way of describing a feeling, and could refer to a range of possible symptoms.

Common symptoms of brain fog include:

  • Fuzzy thinking
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Lack of focus
  • Confusion
  • Forgetfulness
  • Decreased motivation
  • Mood swings

Other symptoms can include difficulty learning new tasks or finding words, finding it harder to multitask or forgetting details of conversations. You may even feel sluggish.

Symptoms can be temporary or long-lasting, and minor or more challenging. And they can be different for everyone.

What causes brain fog?

“Given how wide-ranging the symptoms can be, it can have many causes as well,” Dr. Finney says. One cause of brain fog symptoms that’s received a lot of recent attention: inflammation. It can be brought on by a variety of things, like:

  • Stress
  • Lack of sleep
  • Pregnancy
  • Hormonal shifts
  • Chemotherapy
  • Viral illnesses and post-viral illnesses, like COVID
  • Poor diet
  • Anxiety
  • Autoimmune conditions

Finding relief

The good news is, when brain fog seeps into and interferes with your daily life, you can do some easy things to counter it. Start with these.

Get a good night’s rest

If you haven’t been sleeping as well or as much as you’d like, your brain may be left feeling the effects. “A lack of sleep makes it harder for our brain cells to communicate,” Dr. Finney says. “That can leave us feeling a little foggy or having a hard time staying focused.”

Want to banish that brain fog? Try getting more sleep, which gives a boost to brain power. And tell your healthcare provider if you can’t seem to get good rest. They can recommend ways to get the best sleep possible.

Stay calm

Reducing stress delivers a lot of benefits. You might not realize that it can help with improving mental clarity. The effects of stress or anxiety make your brain work harder than it needs to. Chronic stress can put your brain into fight-or-flight mode. Dr. Finney explains, “When that happens, your brain gets flooded with stress hormones, making it physically harder to focus on anything else but one thing — usually what has you the most stressed.”

Find ways to lessen stress to start feeling sharper and clearer. If you’re not sure where to begin, your healthcare provider can offer options for calming your mind.

Move your body

Getting regular exercise can burn off brain fog, too. Besides improving your muscle strength and controlling your weight, regular exercise spurs your body to produce endorphins. These natural chemicals are mood-boosters that help you feel more clear-headed.

“Exercise also helps build new brain cells and reinforce connections by improving blood flow to the brain,” says Dr. Finney. More brain cells mean clearer thinking and better cognition.

And you don’t need to be a gym guru to feel the effects. Just 30 minutes a day, three to five days a week, of brisk walking, swimming or weightlifting can have you on your way to a clearer head.

Eat a balanced diet

Like using premium gasoline for a powerful racecar, you need to fuel your gray matter with top-quality food to achieve your best brain health. Support healthy brain function by filling your plate with foods rich in nutrients and antioxidants. Start with these:

  • Dark, leafy greens
  • Eggs
  • Nuts
  • Fatty fish
  • Green tea
  • Dark chocolate

Stay connected

Keep that brain active and engaged by avoiding isolation. You’ll improve your brain power when you stay connected to friends and family. “Social stimulation builds new pathways in your brain,” says Dr. Finney. So get on the phone, schedule a game night, go for a walk with a neighbor or write a letter to a loved one. Strengthening your social connections will strengthen your neural connections, too.

Talk to your provider

To keep fogginess at bay, start by having a heart-to-heart talk with your healthcare provider. They can evaluate your brain fog and decide if any tests are needed to rule out a serious condition. And they can help you build a plan to lessen or eliminate your brain fog.

Remember that small steps equal big progress. Everyday tweaks to your daily routine can yield gradual changes, helping you feel your clearest.

Next steps:

Learn about neurology care at Geisinger
When to be concerned about forgetfulness
Waking up with a headache? Here’s how to get relief

Content from General Links with modal content