Foggy brain AKA difficulty concentrating AKA how the menopause made me forget everything.
If you’ve been pregnant you will especially relate to this symptom. I remember somebody asking me when my daughter Anaïs’ birthday was and it took me a good 3 or 4 seconds to say that it was 27th January. I started losing track of my car keys, my phone would suddenly go on unauthorised leave and as for my debit card, well, let’s just say that my bank manager is now having counselling over the number of times I called asking for a replacement card as I’d misplaced mine. Clearly, the house fairy had it in for me. After missing a number of friend’s dinners, I was on the verge of buying a Filofax just to write everything down!
Truth be told I was frightened by what was happening to me and didn’t really know where to turn.
My lapses in memory were happening at the same time as I was experiencing severe anxiety, mood swings, lack of sleep and difficulty concentrating. I could not put my finger on the cause and I was deeply troubled. I don’t drink or take drugs and should have been at the peak of my powers and yet my mind seemed to be falling apart. That fed into a cycle of not sleeping because I was having anxiety, waking up exhausted and irritable which made it hard to concentrate which made me more anxious which gave me trouble sleeping. I had also had painful headaches and wondered if I might have developed some kind of neurological condition. Truth be told I was frightened by what was happening to me and didn’t really know where to turn. It was only after reading an article online about the connection between anxiety and menopause that I even considered it as a possible cause!
What Causes ‘Foggy Brain’?
Estrogen stimulates neurotransmitters in the brain. Fluctuating hormone levels can slow down neurotransmitters, causing “foggy brain”. Many women, especially those aged between 33-55 report problems with working memory, as well as keeping themselves focused. It’s NOT all in your head.
My Top Tips
Write it down
Whether it’s post-it notes, phone reminders or a daily diary, writing down thoughts or important notes can help you retain information and stress less about remembering details. Or let’s bring the Filofax back into fashion!
Dehydration will slow down your mind, so it’s especially important to drink plenty of water to keep your mind as clear as possible throughout the day.
Mental exercise games like Sudoku and crossword puzzles have been shown to help keep brain activity up and even improve your memory. They’re easy to find online, in most app stores or in the papers, and are a great way to pass time during breaks in your schedule.
Get plenty of exercise
Brain function relies on sleep and exercise to keep running smoothly. Exercise gets your blood flowing and increases oxygen levels in the brain. If you’re not in the mood, a 20 minute walk round the block is good.
It might be obvious, but excessive alcohol consumption can worsen your mental concentration and memory retention. That extra glass of wine might be tempting, but if you suffer with daily brain fog, it’s best to stay away; completely if you can.
Take your vitamins
Vitamins are incredibly important for memory and brain function, especially vitamins B, C, D, and E. Fortunately, these can be found easily in many fruits and vegetables, so carry around some healthy, vitamin-packed snacks with you to eat through the day.