Concentration – How to Improve it With These Simple Tricks

February 9, 2018

Do you have problems with your concentration? Do you feel like your memory is failing you? Are you constantly confused and groggy? When you talk to someone, do you feel like you don’t really hear what they’re saying? When you’re watching a TV show or reading something, do you feel like you’re not really getting what’s going on?

Concentration and memory issues can be a big problem, not just for work or studies, but also in your everyday life. Also, the consequences of these issues can go much further, since this can affect your self-esteem, personal relationships, and even your emotional stability.

And, since this is not something you should become frightened or alarmed about, let’s call it by its proper name. Because it’s one thing is to have a bad day and a very different one is to feel a constant inability to keep your attention focused. This inability which includes confusion and forgetfulness, as well as lack of concentration and mental clarity is called Brain Fog.

What is Brain Fog?

Brain Fog is an anomaly that isn’t recognized as an illness but which refers to an internationally accepted mental condition. Unfortunately, having Brain Fog is quite common, although this doesn’t make it “normal”.

Brain Fog alludes to a problem that goes beyond concentration issues. When you have Brain Fog, you feel unfocused, confused, and find it hard to think. With Brain fog, your brain is sending an important signal that there’s an imbalance that needs to be addressed.

Actually, what could seem like a mental or psychological problem could be something else. In fact, Brain Fog could be due to your lifestyle. Many more factors than you think in your lifestyle can cause Brain Fog, such as your diet. Or the Fog could also be a side effect of a medical condition or even certain medication.

The good news is Brain Fog is avoidable and treatable when you identify the factor which causes it. Sometimes, it’s as simple as leading a healthier lifestyle.

Girl with burnout syndrome.
Why is Brain Fog produced?

In many cases Brain Fog is due to conditions which are directly linked to one’s health. In fact, medication used to treat various diseases can provoke or aid the emergence of Brain Fog. Also,  certain dietary supplements which are consumed to supposedly improve one’s quality of life can cause it.

But Brain Fog can also appear due to an unhealthy lifestyle, especially due to bad nutrition. As we will see later on, nutrition is a very serious topic that goes beyond our physical health. It is a determining factor in our mental and emotional health. Next, we will analyze how to dissipate Brain Fog and improve your concentration.

Unhealthy nutrition

When you have an unhealthy diet, the chances of suffering from Brain Fog increase. But, what is a bad diet and what constitutes a good diet? The answer is simple, but it’s very difficult to process and accept. In fact, many people don’t want to hear it.

To start off, we have to clear up that there’s a difference being eating and consuming edible products. The difference is that food provides necessary and beneficial nutrients. Edible products simply quench the feeling of thirst and hunger but don’t actually offer any of what your body really needs.

That’s why when you have a healthy diet, you need to eat less. And when you have a diet that’s not based on food rich in nutrients, then you need to eat more and more often. Because your body is demanding the nutrients it hasn’t received. This is the reason why you should reduce as much as possible the amount of useless edible products and replace them with real food.

Nutritional deficiencies

Concentration problems and Brain Fog might also be due to a nutritional deficiency. In fact, these deficiencies can be generated even while maintaining a healthy diet. Either because not enough food is consumed or because it isn’t assimilated properly.

The main nutritional deficiencies which can cause concentration problems are: 

  • Vitamin B12 deficiency: Vitamin B12 deficiency should not be taken lightly since it can produce a wide spectrum of mental and neurological disorders. Digestive disorders and even the use of medication which suppresses stomach acid increase the risk of this deficiency.
  • Vitamin D deficiency: Vitamin D helps elevate one’s mood, dissipates Brain Fog and depression, improves the memory, and increases one’s problem-solving skills.
  • Omega-3 essential fatty acid deficiency: Essential fatty acids are found in high concentrations in the brain. They are crucial for our memory and the health and proper functioning of the brain. Of all of the omega-3 fatty acids, DHA (docosahexaenoic acid) is the most beneficial for the brain. It’s an important structural component of brain cells, especially in the cells of the cortex. This is the area of the brain which is associated with memory, language, abstraction, creativity, judgment, emotions, and attention.

Some dietary supplements could help dissipate Brain Fog and restore our concentration. However, you have to be careful with these supplements, since they are not always as useful as they might seem. Nootropics, for instance, are substances that can make you more focused, motivated, positive, and productive. But, at the end of the day, they are not as useful, nor are they as inoffensive, as they might seem.

Sleeping problems

Brain fog can be caused by lack of good quality sleep. After all, sleep is fundamental to the functioning of the brain, both in the short and long term. When you sleep, a type of brain cleansing occurs. This allows your memory to consolidate. Furthermore, during sleep, the brain creates new brain cells, which in a certain way compensate for all of the cells which you lose during the day.

Woman suffering from insomnia.

One bad night can affect your memory, concentration, coordination, mood, judgment, and ability to manage stress during the following day. What’s more, some experts state that losing one night of sleep affects your mental performance as much as being drunk does.

Chronic stress

Stress is one of the trademarks of our time, and chronic stress is its main standard bearer. Being stressed is wrongly thought of as a synonym for being productive, popular, and successful. However, stress increases your risks of suffering from major illnesses. These include cancer and many feared cerebral diseases, such as dementia and Alzheimer’s.

Chronic stress provokes anxiety, depression, bad decision-making, insomnia, and memory loss. Too much cortisol, the stress hormone, provokes an excess of free radicals. These substances damage the cellular membranes of the brain, making them lose their normal function and die. Plus, cortisol interferes with the creation of new brain cells.

Medication

All medication has some risks. Brain Fog is one of the most common side effects reported both for prescription medication as well as for “over the counter.”

For example, it’s known that medication which lowers cholesterol and prescription sleeping pills can cause memory loss. Also, meds known as anticholinergics work by blocking the action of acetylcholine. This is the chemical in the brain in charge of memory and learning. The typical side effects of these meds include Brain Fog, forgetfulness, and the loss of concentration.

Furthermore, lots of “over the counter” medications also work by blocking acetylcholine, such as medicine for allergies, acid reflux, pain, and insomnia. Hence it is important to assess whether the side effects compensate for the benefit that may be derived from the treatment itself.

Health problems

Some health conditions can produce issues with concentration and mental clarity. In some cases, it’s the treatment of the disease which provokes the problems. This the case, for example, of cancer patients subjected to chemotherapy.

A common side effect of chemotherapy is a certain type of Brain Fog associated with this treatment. The official position of the American Cancer Society is that this Brain Fog caused by chemotherapy is due to a combination of the disease itself, treatments, sleeping problems, hormonal changes, depression, and stress.

When researchers analyzed the cerebral activity of these patients, before and after chemotherapy, they found that the treatment caused notable changes in brain function. This indicates that chemotherapy does play at least some role in the reduction of mental clarity.

Here are some health conditions that have been associated with Brain Fog:

  • Fibromyalgia
  • Chronic Fatigue Syndrome
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Brain sessions
  • Candidiasis (candida albicans)
  • Diabetes
  • Heavy metal toxicity
  • Hepatitis C
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Irritable bowel syndrome
  • Lyme’s disease
  • Menopause
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Neurodegenerative disorders
  • Rheumatoid arthritis
  • Sessional allergies
  • Substance abuse

Solutions to Brain Fog: improving your concentration

There is no definite solution to dissipate Brain Fog and improve your concentration. Each individual has to seek their own personal solution. Identifying, firstly, the factor or factors that give density to the fog.

Most people will have to begin by correcting their dietary habits, in addition to looking for ways to control their stress and improve their sleeping habits. It will also be necessary to look at their health condition and search for solutions. In fact, Brain Fog can be a symptom of an undiagnosed health problem.

Woman meditating on a dock.

Guidelines to dissipate Brain Fog

The main guidelines we can give you in order to dissipate the fog and improve your concentration are:

  • Eat properly and maintain a balanced diet. Avoid refined sugars, refined flour, saturated fats, and caffeine. Eat healthy fats and quality carbohydrates.
  • Stay hydrated. Even mild dehydration can cause severe cerebral problems. Drink water and consume food rich in water. But avoid sugary drinks or ones with artificial sweeteners, as well as caffeinated beverages.
  • Acquire healthy habits oriented towards getting a good night’s sleep, both in quality and in quantity.
  • Practice meditation and relaxation techniques, as well as doing exercise, especially exercise that you can do outdoors. Exercise helps regulate and prevent stress efficiently. On the other hand, learning to manage stress is a great way of improving the quality of your sleep.
  • Check the medication you’re taking to see if it can be substituted or adapted, if possible, to avoid Brain Fog.
  • Get a health check in order to test whether you have a disease or nutritional deficiency that could be causing your concentration and memory problems.
  • Give your brain a break. Experts recommend fragmenting your day into 90-minute phases in order to maintain your natural energy levels and preserve your clarity of thought. This break consists of collecting all of the thoughts that go through your mind during a 30-second interval or every time you feel distracted.
  • Deactivate all devices which might be distracting you during tasks, especially your notifications. The mere fact of knowing that you can receive a notification, call, text, etc., will prevent you from reaching the highest level of concentration.

Be proactive when it comes to adopting a healthy lifestyle, both for your body as well as for your mind. Don’t allow room for excuses, don’t place blame. Nobody is going to worry about your brain as much as you, and nobody is going to enjoy it in its best shape as much as you either.