Brain fog can affect us all, especially at work. It varies from person to person but ultimately it can leave us feeling unmotivated, lethargic and with a short attention span.
Brain fog is the term used when we cannot focus our thoughts or concentrate on anything clearly, it has also recently been found that brain fog is a symptom of long Covid, with Bangor University studies suggesting that brain fog, or cognitive impairment, is increasingly recognised as a major component of long Covid.
Estimates suggest that a quarter to two thirds of all people experiencing long Covid suffer some form of ‘brain fog’.
Here, Doctor Giuseppe Aragona, GP and medical advisor for Prescription Doctor reveals his top-tips on how to try and beat brain fog at work and be more productive.
1. Plan your day
Having a plan for the work day can really benefit your productiveness. Having clear goals which need to be achieved by the end of the day will allow you to focus on the tasks in-hand without deviating or sitting with your own foggy thoughts and not actually getting anything done. Writing a simple to-do list first thing and working your way through it step-by-step can be easy and you will find this helps to organise your thoughts.
2. Drink plenty of water
Drinking plenty of water each day will keep you hydrated which should help you to keep a clear mind and feel motivated. A hydrated brain will always function better than a dehydrated one so upping the liquids to two to three litres a day is advised.
3. Avoid distractions
Distractions throughout the day are a sure-fire way to stop you from being productive and getting work done, especially when working from home. Ensure you put your phone away in another room as the temptation to check messages or social media will be great, keep TVs and radios turned off and only focus on one thing at a time. If you work best with background noise perhaps play music with no lyrics, so you aren’t concentrating on the song.
4. Get plenty of sleep
Sleep is imperative for brain health and allowing us to be alert and productive each day. Ensuring you go to bed at the same time each night, and it’s not too late will allow you to get the recommended seven to eight hours of sleep per night that you need for a healthy brain and good cognitive function.
5. Keep moving
Daily exercise is important as this affects our concentration and mental health more than you would think, getting the blood pumping and the body moving will increase endorphins and serotonin levels and this will help in keeping your body and mind motivated and focused on work. If you can get out in the morning for a daily walk or run this is even better as you are getting fresh air and oxygen into your lungs, blood and brain.
6. Change up your surroundings
Sometimes being stuck in the same routine can leave us feeling unmotivated and this, in turn, means our work is affected. If you are working from home, why not have 2 or 3 days a week working from a local coffee shop – this will get you out of the house and the hustle and bustle of people will most likely make you feel as though you’re back in the ‘real world’ and it could increase productivity and reduce brain fog.
7. Avoid screens before bed
Avoiding any screens before bed is key in ensuring a good night sleep. Try to read a book for an hour before sleep and do not look at your phone during this hour, if you need to set alarms ensure this is done before you reach for the book. Screen time before bed has been proven to disrupt our sleep and leave us feeling alert as opposed to sleepy, which is why many people who scroll social media before bed have trouble sleeping.
8. Limit your alcohol intake
Limit how much alcohol you drink in the week as this can contribute to the foggy feelings you will feel in the morning and will most likely cloud your thoughts and affect your progress with work. You should also cut down on smoking if you smoke.
Meditation can be a great way to clear your mind and relax your body. A 10-minute daily meditation can change the way you think and will allow you to clear your thoughts before the working day. Yoga may also help as breathing and stretching should help you to feel motivated and ready to take on the day.
10. Be kind to yourself
Brain fog can be hard to manage, and we can sometimes beat ourselves up for not being able to concentrate and focus. Try to focus on one thing at a time and don’t get angry when you can’t focus, take five minutes away from the desk, have a coffee and take some deep breaths and you should come back to the task feeling more positive.
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