Brain Fog: Head in the Clouds

It has been a cereal in the fridge and milk in the pantry kind of day (yes, you read that right)! I don’t think that I could have found a better picture to go with this topic. “My brain has too many tabs open.”

Brain fog has been a part of my life for the past 10 years or so. It comes in waves on and off and is a disruption to my day and productivity.

What Brain Fog is Like

It is struggling to come up with certain words while having a conversation, feeling as if there is a mental block, and you cannot think straight. Brain fog is not remembering even the smallest things like what you had for dinner last night. There’s a disconnect and you just don’t feel very mentally sharp.

You may start to lack focus, and concentration, and just feel spaced out. Brain fog is an uncomfortable feeling that makes you feel like you are missing out on your surroundings, conversations, and just recollection in general.

What Your Body is Trying to Tell You

For me, brain fog is always an indicator that I am stretching myself too thin, that I am overworking myself and not taking the proper time to rest and unwind. Brain fog usually hits me when I keep running and pushing myself well past my limits and to be honest, I don’t even know my limits sometimes, I just keep going until it’s too late.

Your body is very good at giving you signals about what it needs. You feel hunger pangs because your body needs fuel, you feel tired because your body needs sleep, and you feel thirsty because your body needs to be hydrated. You are not feeling mentally sharp because your brain needs a break and needs time to not be going full steam.

Brain Fog Is a Serious Matter

Brain fog should not be taken lightly as it is an indicator that something is amiss. Of course, it may be due to lack of sleep, or certain medications, but not feeling mentally clear warrants immediate attention.

Many years ago, when I was still in college, I pushed myself to the point of being completely burned out. I didn’t realize there was such a thing until it happened to me. My short-term memory was terrible and following any sort of conversation, even reading was so very difficult. I would have a conversation with someone or read parts of an article and I was not able to recite back to you what I had just heard or read.

Someone asked me who the president of the United States was at the time, and I wasn’t able to answer them, not because I didn’t know, but because I couldn’t recall who it was no matter how hard I tried. It took me nearly 6 months to recover from this burnout. I truly thought that I was never going to get my mind back, it was a very scary time.

Take Care of Your Mind

We must take every effort to take care of our minds and bodies. We need to listen to ourselves and take breaks when necessary. Our minds are not machines, and they will have a breaking point.

Take action and take time for yourself so that you can come back ready to go and conquer life again. With a little rest and self-care, slowly the fogginess in your brain will disappear.

Dissociation

Have you ever felt like you were going through life with your head in the clouds? Maybe you were going about the daily motions of life, but you had trouble remembering what you did from one moment to the next, maybe you couldn’t recall certain details or conversations because they felt like a distant memory even though they just happened. You might have found yourself on autopilot.

Dissociation is feeling disconnected from yourself and the world around you. You may have heard this term if you have studied Psychology. Dissociation is a type of coping mechanism that our bodies turn to while trying to prevent the overload of stimulus that is present in our everyday lives.

Life is even more stressful nowadays than it ever has been. We find ourselves trying to juggle and balance all aspects of our lives from family, friends, relationships, careers, and hobbies, to just having some time for self-care and relaxation. If we keep going without recognizing that we are negatively impacting our minds and bodies, then we start to head for a burnout.

Some ways that you might find yourself slipping into dissociation is when you start to have trouble remembering even minor details, your brain feels foggy, you feel like you are living out of your body, and your head is in the clouds. You may start to feel as though you are going through the motions of life, but not able to take in what is around you appropriately. There is a great disproportion between what you are experiencing in life and what you are truly taking in.

When you start to feel this disconnect, it is important to take action right away. Your mind and body are trying to flee trauma and stress and there are ways to help yourself connect again. Mindfulness is extremely important in helping you get out of a state of dissociation. Practice living in the moment and truly focusing on everything in front of you including your thoughts, feelings, and your surroundings.

Other ways to help this feeling include being in nature and noting everything that elicits your senses. Note the smell of the air, the cool breeze that touches your skin, focus on the birds chirping, and the water flowing down the stream.

Being aware of your mind and body is so important. Your mental and physical health is of utmost importance, and we must take every action that we can to preserve them. Listen to what your mind and body are telling you and take the necessary steps to prevent burnout!

Keeping Your Cup Full

Self-care is a word that we hear about often, yet something that many of us don’t remember to do as much as we should. We are so busy with life and we spend so much time taking care of others that we forget to take care of ourselves.

Life keeps us busy and we all have relationships and responsibilities that we must attend to and put energy towards. We may sometimes feel superhuman as we navigate daily challenges and tasks off of our to-do list. Often in the midst of things we forget that energy is not finite, it will run low if not preserved and boosted.

There are many ways and things that you can do to help with self-care, it all depends on what your likes and interests are. Self-care may be as simple as taking yourself out to dinner, getting a new haircut, getting a manicure/pedicure, gardening, cooking a good meal, playing sports, even choosing to stay in one evening to watch shows is self-care.

The importance of taking care of oneself is immense. Our minds and bodies are only capable of so much before we hit a slump, or even a breakdown, it’s very important to listen to your mind and body and to know when to slow down and take time for yourself. When you practice good self-care, you are physically and mentally at your best and you keep your cup full. It is only when you yourself are “full” that you are able to do your best in life and also give your best in life. We can’t possibly take care of others, or the demands of life without taking care of ourselves first! This is a reminder to do something that you love, something that makes you happy, something that helps you relax today!

Energy

As much as we would like to think that our mental and physical energy is infinite, it is definitely not. This is a lesson that I have learned over many years. It’s human nature to want to keep going and keep giving, but if we do not recharge and take time for ourselves, we will eventually have no energy left to give to the people and the world around us.

Like all things that require energy to function, the source of the energy must be recharged, replaced, and replenished, in order to keep going and keep working. A cell phone needs its battery charged when it runs low, a car needs its battery changed every few years, or it eventually dies and the car won’t work, a lightbulb needs to be replaced when it burns out after so many hours of shining brightly. People are no different, we need to regroup and recharge in order to function at our highest potential.

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As human beings, we are always giving our energy, our time, and our attention to everyone and everything around us. We are using energy when we don’t even realize it, this can lead to a burnout especially if we do not recognize the signs that we need to stop and recharge before it’s too late. Our jobs, relationships, responsibilities, they all require so much from us. We also must be careful of certain people and situations that drain us of energy. People go through things and no one is positive all the time, but try to limit time with those that are constantly bringing you down and draining your energy, it’s very important to set boundaries. Same goes for staying in situations that do more harm than good. We have this instinct to keep giving our all and keep pushing, but if we do not know when to stop, we are hurting ourselves when we really can no longer even help any else because we are depleted.

I am the kind of person that always likes to help others, always devoting time to lift people up and listen to them, I will do anything in my power to be there for someone that I love and because of this, I have had many moments where I have hit a wall and shut down. I could no longer give, I could no longer even keep myself afloat. I was burned out and could no longer help anyone, including myself. This is why it is so important to recognize when you are over-expending your energy, so that you can prevent burnouts.

There are many ways to recharge. Enjoy your favorite hobbies, watch movies, be with nature, read a book, take a hot bath, journal, just spend time alone and regroup. Remember if you don’t look out for yourself, you can’t possibly give your all to others in your life. Do something nice for yourself, your mind and body will thank you!

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The Power of Solitude

Once in a while we get the chance to sit alone with pin-drop silence. Most of our days are filled with the hustle and bustle of work, families, and other responsibilities that leave us in a near constant state of commotion. It is in these peaceful moments that we discover the power of solitude.

In life a lot of us, including myself, struggle with balance and this ultimately leads to a burnout. I feel as though balancing rest and work in today’s world is even more difficult. I am the first to admit that I burnout quickly and I require more downtime than most people. I believe this is due to me being a very “sensitive” person and I process life very deeply. I sometimes wish that I didn’t absorb so much energy and emotions as it is quite draining.

When we are with others, so much of our energy and focus are on other people. We keep up with the demands of relationships, work, school, and we are depleted of energy before we make time for ourselves. We need to learn to put ourselves first, because if we are not physically and mentally sound, we cannot possibly give our all in life. Think of the last time that you sat alone outside by the water, drank a cup of tea or coffee in your recliner with no one else home, took a walk in nature just you and the universe. How did that make you feel? I am guessing that for a lot of us, that feeling would be whole, peaceful, renewed, uplifted, and relaxed. I do understand for some that being alone may trigger fear, sadness, and loneliness. Some individuals are alone most if not all of the time and they crave human interaction. It’s all about balance. There were times that I was alone so much that I was depressed and craved companionship, I’ve also been in times where I was around so many people that I just wanted to hide away from the world and be by myself.

Solitude brings about both peace and strength. There is something so beautiful about being at one with yourself, feeling yourself breathe, and having no outside stimulation from the world. One can process thoughts and emotions and find peace in just existing. On the other hand, solitude requires strength as it is not exactly how humans are “hardwired.” There are individuals of course who are introverted and I do find myself becoming more introverted as I age. Solitude is also when we are forced to face our demons. Whether you prefer being alone, surrounded by people, or a mix, please make more time to do what you love and what renews and refreshes your soul. Your mind and body are so precious and we need to put ourselves first so that we can be the best version of ourselves that we can possibly be. Just a few minutes a day set aside just for you can make all the difference in the world.