If you are currently experiencing perimenopause, also known as menopausal transition, “brain fog” is probably a part of your daily life right now. Albeit frustrating, implementing positive lifestyle changes can be the best way to deal with it.
With perimenopause, many women deal with private summers (a.k.a. hot flashes), fatigue, irregular menstruation, anxiety, mood swings, sleep disturbances, and the thing that has driven me crazy, “brain fog.” These are all side effects of the hormonal shifts that happen during midlife.
“Brain fog” is just another way of referring to difficulties concentrating or experiencing forgetfulness. It happens to everyone, but women experience it most often during the ages of 45-55 due to a drop in estrogen levels.
I am currently in perimenopause, and it’s causing me to have “brain fog” episodes. Sometimes, I don’t know how to deal with myself, so I know it’s interesting for others I interact with, especially my family. There are times I have trouble concentrating, can’t remember words, or sometimes, I do this cute little thing where I forget to place the coffee pot carafe back in place after I hit the brew button. And depending on my mood and the severity of the mishap, I’ll either laugh hysterically at myself or become extremely irritated.
When I noticed how easily and often things began to slip my mind, I seriously thought I was losing it. This thing has caused me to question my ability to handle simple tasks that I’ve had no issues with before. At one point, I thought I was in the beginning stages of dementia.
In conversations with other women who have gone through “the change,” I’ve been told how going through the stages of menopause affects your brain, but I associated it with aging in general. As I dug deeper when I started having constant symptoms, I found that it’s not just getting older that makes a woman more forgetful and have a hard time concentrating. It comes from the battle between our bodies and hormones, which makes total sense because I definitely experience brain fogginess during that “special” time of the month.
According to the experts, besides visiting with your physician, mental sluggishness is best managed by implementing a few effective lifestyle changes such as:
-Staying hydrated by consuming at least 3 liters of water daily. Exercising at least 90 minutes per week.
-Getting around 7-9 hours of sleep every night.
-Adding brain-boosting foods to your diet such as walnuts, dark chocolate, turmeric, and berries.
-Managing stress and anxiety by engaging in self-care activities.
-Improving gut health by ingesting probiotics such as yogurt and kimchi.
These are all helpful for improving brain function, which is just as important as physical health, if not more so. However, in my quest to find some normalcy as I navigate through this pocket of turbulence I’m dealing with, I’ve started to implement four simple changes that make my life easier. These are practical tools to try if you are in the same boat.
I quit multitasking.
Yes I know, women are the queens of multitasking. We’ve been gifted with the ability to juggle and execute multiple projects at once. While this is a gift, it’s also a curse, especially when our brain function isn’t up to par. Not only does focusing on one task at a time makes less room for error, but it also makes me more productive.
I began to write everything down.
I love lists…shopping lists, to-do lists, what-to-wear lists, you name it. But here’s the thing, I would write these lists and then lose them or leave them. Not anymore. I now live by lists! I recently bought a cute little planner that’s easy to carry around, and it has become my best friend.
There are a few helpful apps downloaded on my iPhone, which should be perfect for keeping me organized and forgetful-free, but I’ve realized that nothing works better for me than putting pen to paper. It’s just my preference, but you can totally do what works best for you.
I’m resisting procrastination.
Not sure about you, but whenever I put tasks off until I feel like tackling them, it comes back to bite me in the butt. And not because of a missed deadline, but because I completely forget to do them or, I think about these tasks so much, it causes anxiety and stress.
Now when something needs to be done, I try to get to it off my plate right away. By doing this, I free up “space” in my head so that I can concentrate on other things. I think of it as mental decluttering. And it works.
I set routines.
If you are struggling with finding time to accomplish important tasks, often misplace items, can’t remember to feed the dog (or yourself), put some regimens in place. You’d be surprised by how many lives have been saved by a simple routine.
Setting routines doesn’t mean you have to be ultra-restrictive or rigid; it merely means you’re creating a lifestyle where familiarity helps prevent insanity. It can be as simple as dedicating a specific hour during the day to check and respond to emails.
Be realistic when developing your routines; this way, they’ll be easy to keep up with.
So here’s yet another midlife issue that can be handled by tweaking the way we normally do life. If you are dealing with perimenopause “brain fog,” how are you getting by? I’d love to read some of your tips!
All the best always, and thank you for reading.