Ever find yourself walking into a room and wondering why you were there? Or leaving your car keys in the fridge and your phone in the bread crock? Or even worse, forgetting what you are saying mid-sentence?
If that’s you, you are not alone. Feeling tired, forgetful, having a wandering mind, unable to multi-task, having word-finding difficulties or trouble concentrating are all quite common; particularly when we are tired, stressed and overwhelmed.
However, if you’re going through perimenopause (the stage just before the menstrual cycle stops entirely) or even post menopause, you are much more likely to suffer with brain fog. In fact, it’s estimated that a staggering sixty percent of women complain of memory lapses and report difficulty concentrating at this time.
Sometimes, just having a label for our issues helps convince us that we are not going crazy, but it’s useful to understand exactly happens during peri/menopause.
Please don’t say it’s our hormones - oh wait, yes, it’s our hormones, again. Estrogen, progesterone, and other hormones, are all responsible for different processes in the body, including cognition, and unfortunately, some of us are more sensitive to falling estrogen levels than others.
Of course, when experiencing brain fog, it’s easy to panic that it could be something more serious like Alzheimer’s. However, unlike brain fog associated with menopause, Alzheimer’s is a progressive disease that gets worse over time. That being said, if you have serious concerns or you have a family history of Alzheimer’s, it may be worthwhile making a trip to see a memory disorder specialist.
If you think brain fog is seriously disrupting your daily life or affecting your performance at work, what can you do to fix it? Here’s a list of the surprisingly simple steps you can take to keep your mind active and alert and improve your concentration. The more you incorporate any of these into your life, the more you will be able to rise above brain fog:
- regular exercise
- get enough sleep
- follow a healthy Mediterranean diet with lots of leafy greens
- limit carbohydrates
- take probiotics
- increase your water intake
- take adaptogens to help you reach a state of mental balance
- keep your mind active with puzzles and crosswords
- take up a new hobby or learn a new skill
- practice yoga
- meditate regularly
- practice breathing
Stress is one of the main exacerbators of brain fog, so relaxation is paramount. A gentle restorative yoga routine in the evening will flex your parasympathetic nervous system which is engaged during rest and relaxation, and this in turn will help calm your body and your mind.
Likewise, slow breathing techniques also calm our nervous system and help quiet an overactive mind. When done for an extended period of time, they can recharge your energy levels and mental focus. It’s also helpful to practice a breathing technique when you wake up in the night and can’t get back to sleep due to your over-active monkey mind.
Hormone-replacement therapy can also make a significant difference to menopause-related brain fog. It could involve taking either low-dose estrogen or a combination of estrogen and progestin. These hormones will also help with some of the other symptoms you may experience during menopause too, not just brain fog.
So, if brain fog is getting you down and affecting your daily life, then you can find comfort in knowing that your experiences are normal and real, and help is available if needed. And, the next time, your partner or kids yell at you because they keep having to repeat themselves, you can yell back and tell them IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT!
If you are going through perimenopause or menopause and would like to know how yoga can help, click the link below to obtain a copy of my FREE e-book. It demonstrates a selection of yoga poses that can bring relief to your symptoms. Whilst some are restorative, others are energy boosting or focus specifically on symptoms such as hot flashes. https://www.yourselfyoga.com/free-resources
You can also join my Facebook group 'Yoga for Peri/Menopause' and enjoy free tips, advice, yoga sequences, classes and meet other like-minded women who are undergoing the same challenges.