How to Get Rid of Brain Fog

By on February 18, 2021

Whether it’s training, working on a business, or just tidying the house; being productive is hard work when you feel tired, sluggish, and miserable. Likewise, learning how to get rid of brain fog is paramount if you want to focus for any extended period of time.

(Random thought: how do you spell the abbreviated version of “miserable?” Is it miz??)

how to get rid of brain fog

This problem stands in the way of countless goals and ambitions. And of course, it’s also not particularly pleasant for the person experience it.

There’s no method that can instantly banish brain fog and bad moods. If there was, it would make whoever discovered it extremely rich! There are countless causes for brain fog, ranging from lack of sleep to serious mental health issues. If you experience regular brain fog, then you should speak with a doctor. In many cases, brain fog appears to be the result of inflammation affecting the brain, caused by inflammatory cytokines. This is why we feel sluggish when we have a cold!

See also: Interoception and Physical Intelligence – Control Your Physiology

But with that said, the following method is by far the most effective I’ve personally used, and can help in a number of cases. Even if it doesn’t “cure” brain fog, it can often help you to feel a little better and more enthusiastic.

How to Get Rid of Brain Fog

The best method I know to get rid of brain fog is this: act as though you don’t have brain fog.

That means you should adopt an engaged and alert posture, widen your eyes and smile. Chat energetically with other people, and attack projects – even if your heart isn’t in it and the output isn’t great to begin with.

Adopt an engaged and alert posture, widen your eyes and smile.

This might sound trite, but it really is the best way to get rid of brain fog or low mood. The reason for this, is that the link between our brain and body is two-way.

When you feel sluggish, this has countless affects on your physiology. You’ll find that your shoulders slump as you lose muscle tension, you adopt a sullen expression, and your heart rate becomes slow and erratic. Your breathing changes, too, and your blood vessels constrict – reducing blood flow to the brain and muscles. Testosterone drops.

All this makes sense, but what you might not realize is that this creates a feedback loop. All these physical changes send more signals to your brain that it should stay in that powered-down state. That is why acting energetic is how to get rid of brain fog, in so many cases.

How Posture and Activity Affect Your Brain

As you slump, you compress your lungs and take shallower breaths. This reduced oxygen makes you feel more sleepy and anxious, and further reduces the amount of oxygen that makes it to the brain. Sit up straighter then, and you will instantly take in more oxygen and feel more awake and alert.

Simply frowning can actually reduce production of serotonin and other feel-good neurotransmitters/hormones. This is due to something called “facial feedback.” This phenomenon shows us that the face we pull, is the mood we feel (study). In one famous, repeated experiment, participants mood could be improved simply by asking them to hold a pencil in their teeth; thus forcing a smile! This is likely due to the strong connections between the facial muscles and the amygdala. This is what allows our face to communicate our emotions, but the link is so strong that it also works in reverse.

Even opening your eyes wider can help to let in more light and information, cranking your brain’s processing up. More importantly, opening your eyes wider will help to increase light to the brain, which in turn can reduce melatonin (the sleep hormone) and increase nitric oxide. Nitric oxide has actually

Move More to Feel Good

Moving more in general will increase circulation and . And adopting more energetic and confident poses has been linked (tenuously, in some cases, but still) with a temporary increase testosterone. Dropping and performing 100 push ups is the last thing you probably want to do if you have brain fog. It’s also the best thing you can do. If you need a little help with this, throw on a bouncy tune.

So, while this might sound like a naff self-help tip, it’s actually true and there are many proven mechanisms that make it so. Fake it until you make it. This is how to get rid of brain fog quickly and effectively, or at least to improve it.

The Struggle is Real

Often, knowing how to get rid of brain fog is not the problem. The problem is doing it.

This does not come naturally. If you feel depressed and lethargic, chances are that you will struggle to summon the energy to smile and bounce around. Bad moods compound bad moods, to the point that when we feel sad, we often want to put on even sadder songs. This may seem entirely counter-intuitive: it’s almost as though we are protecting our poor mood.

Focus

One of the reasons for this may be the evolutionary purpose of sadness and lethargy: to communicate to the rest of the tribe that we are low and need looking after. If you have brain fog and you let your body sag, then your partner might suggest you take the morning off of your chores.

It’s also important to recognize that so many of our actions and choices are determined by our mood, to the extent that some question the role of “free will” in all of this. We shout at our partners unfairly when we are “hangry” because that low sugar increases cortisol and adrenaline, thus shortening our patience and altering our behavior. We often don’t know this is happening. And we don’t know how to get rid of brain fog anymore than we know how to stop being grumpy.

See also: What is Emotional Intelligence? And How to Develop It

How to Overcome Yourself

So, if we want to know how to get rid of brain fog, we also need to overcome the desire for inaction.

One option is to use a number of small hacks to temporarily increase energy and wakefulness, and then to use this as a “springboard” to put on some happy music, do some push ups, or go and tell your partner a joke.

Options include:

  • Splashing water on your face to trigger the mammalian dive reflex
  • Getting outside to get fresh air and natural light
  • Taking a cold shower
  • Coffee
  • Listening to low tempo songs and then gradually increasing that tempo to boost your energy

There are longer-term methods you can use to improve your mental fortitude and discipline, too. Meditation has shown to be a useful tool for overcoming brain fog in the longer term, and I’d wager that training working memory with tools like dual n-back could help, too.

Like anything, this can be developed with time and practice.

Forcing yourself to act energetic feels uncomfortable and takes mental toughness. But, like anything, this can be developed with time and practice. You’ll get better at it.

The main takeaway is that facial feedback is only one example of the tight connection between mind and body. If you want to boost energy and mood, and learn how to get rid of brain fog, take control of your body.

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About Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki, AKA The Bioneer, is a writer, personal trainer, author, entrepreneur, and web developer. I've been writing about health, psychology, and fitness for the past 10+ years and have a fascination with the limits of human performance. When I'm not running my online businesses or training, I love sandwiches, computer games, comics, and hanging out with my family.

One Comment

  1. Gunner says:

    As a medical student, I have recently taken an interest into “brain fog” and the effects that it has on a physical feeling of well being and the mental effects on cognitive thinking and productivity, among my classmates and friends. My findings are exactly as one would think. However an aspect that still puzzles me is that the people who consciously try to avoid or reverse the effects of brain fog, instinctively turn to either A. Physical momentum or B. Mental momentum. In over half of the results, lead to people overcoming “brain fog” by a form of physical exertion such as a splash of cold water, to the extreme of hot to cold showers (of which I myself practice and find a significant remedy for mental fatigue/Brain fog) and if adapted to exercise they would result to a slower paced almost habitual form of cardio such as pacing around or even cleaning around their home (this being requires a lot of squatting, reaching, and bending), and of people choosing the mental momentum route, chose some form of reading, mainly for specific knowledge of ones choosing, or some form of mental game such as Duolingo, Sudoku, Chess, even checkers. It was less of the more forced exertion of physical momentum, but still required a stressor of some sort, whether they knew of the stressor or not.
    Great article, and long time fan!

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