If so, you might be dealing with brain fog. And, if you’ve survived toxic relationships, the chances that you’ve dealt with it are pretty high. In fact, one complaint I hear from many of my clients is that they struggle with “brain fog.” Many people develop C-PTSD as a result of toxic relationships with narcissists – and brain fog is one of several common symptoms.
This video will fill you in on brain fog and offer several helpful smartphone apps that’ll clear the fog!* Or, just scroll down to see the full transcript.
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What is brain fog?
Brain fog or mental fog is a common issue for people who have survived toxic relationships with narcissists. Brain fog is officially defined as a clouding of your consciousness – or in layman’s terms, we could define it as not being able to think clearly or not being able to do simple tasks. It can also affect memory or the ability to work. The term is even used among physicians and psychiatrists to indicate that there’s an abnormality in the regulation of someone’s overall level of consciousness that is mild and less severe than a delirium.
Many survivors describe a subjective sensation of mental clouding described as feeling sort of foggy, or like they’re watching their lives happen from a distance.
What are the effects of brain fog on the average person?
- Trouble thinking during highly stressful situations.
- Struggling to remember things.
- Finding it nearly impossible to concentrate on anything.
- Even the idea of being able to focus may seem like an abstract concept at this point.
- Trouble making decisions
- Finding it difficult to get things done, even basic things like paying your bills, showering or cleaning your house.
- Not thinking clearly
- Sleep problems and a lack of energy – you feel exhausted all the time.
What causes brain fog?
We know that researchers say that prolonged trauma and chronic stress, like the trauma and stress experienced in a toxic relationship with a narcissist, can cause brain fog, but it might also be a sign of another kind of health issue, so it’s important to see your doctor and determine if medical issues are causing your brain fog.
Some of the conditions your doctor might check for include nutritional deficiency, bacterial overgrowth from eating too much sugar, thyroid conditions, sleep disorders, and even depression. Doctors say other causes may include overeating, not getting enough exercise or sleep or a poor diet in general.
How do you get rid of brain fog?
How do you sort of “clear up the fog” so you can function normally again? Start here. I’m going to share seven powerful tips with you today -things that have actually worked for me as well as for my clients.
1. Sharpen your memory by doing some fun brain training – Research suggests that certain kinds of video games and apps can actually help to clear up brain fog – to sharpen your memory and reduce certain risks. According to one 2017 research paper, brain training games can boost your memory and could reduce the risk of dementia in your future. And a Cambridge University study found that video games helped to improve the brain function of people with early memory problems.
You know how much I love research, right? This information led me to want to test out this theory. So when the good people at CodyCross reached out to me and asked me to check out their game, I did – and boy, am I glad I tried it!
So, I have to be honest. At first, I wasn’t really too convinced this would work for me. After all, I am most definitely NOT a gamer. Still, I wanted to test out the theory, so I downloaded CodyCross and gave it a shot. And I have to tell you, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only did I kind of dig the music and sound effects as they were strangely satisfying, but I loved playing the game. It is simple and fun and gives you an interesting sense of accomplishment.
A Quick Review of CodyCross
I found CodyCross both exciting and mentally stimulating – and somehow, still very relaxing. And y’all know the “free” price tag didn’t hurt my feelings one bit. Even better, if English isn’t your first language, you’ll be happy to know that the game is available in 9 different languages. It really is a way to get your brain exercise and it’ll work for any age.
It seems to be keeping my own memory sharper, and I’ve only been playing for a few weeks. The first time I played, I think I played for about 45 minutes straight. I got halfway through the second level and only stopped playing at that moment because I had an appointment!
You should totally try it! Click this link to DOWNLOAD #CODYCROSS AND TELL ME IF YOU FINISHED THE FIRST CHALLENGE FASTER THAN ME!
One quick note: like I told you, this video is sponsored by the company that made the game. But my opinion is my own and in fact, part of what I promise the company is that I would only share my honest opinions with you, so that is exactly what I’m doing here. Anyhoo, that game is super fun (and I can’t lie, maybe a tiny bit addictive). All I’m saying is, if you haven’t tried it yet, you gotta try it now.
As I said, be sure to click my link to get your app. When you do that, you will be clicking an affiliate app so that I get credit for the installation.
- Mindfulness – Simply going outside and breathing fresh air can help, but mindfulness is all about bringing yourself into your body and into the moment. Coping mechanisms such as meditation, deep breathing can help you not only reduce stress but also clear brain fog. Find ways to practice mindfulness at home and at work.
- Get help, reach out to friends, and practice self-care. Check out this video for additional information about mindfulness techniques you can try. Thanks to more awareness of the benefits of mindfulness in recent years, you won’t be lacking in smartphone apps here. For example, there is an app actually called Mindfulness on both the Google Play Store and iTunes, among probably thousands of others.
- Pattern interrupts – Next time you notice yourself spacing out and going into brain fog, make a point to notice it. Then realize that you are in a sort of pattern, which leads to your brain creating and reinforcing certain connections that lead to this feeling. But good news: you can sort of reroute those neural connections. Just use simple pattern interrupts when you feel like you’re stuck in a negative “loop.” For example, brush your teeth, wash your face, stand up, move into a different part of the house. Here’s a video that offers some easy pattern interrupts you can try at home.
- Do something to change your environment and/or to sort of bring yourself into the moment and into your body. It helps. A lot more than you think. You could use a mindfulness app for this one too, but for me, I keep a playlist of happy music on my Google music app that helps me sort of shake up my head a little and get back into a healthy groove.
- Getting more/better sleep – Get enough sleep. Sleep is also important to alleviate brain fog. When you don’t get enough sleep, you may feel like you’re walking through a fog during the day. You’ll have trouble concentrating and thinking. You’ll miss things and doze off. Experts recommend seven to nine hours of sleep each night for adults. However, you may need more or slightly less depending on your body and history. Personally, I recently upgraded my pillow and bought a weighted blanket. Not only does the blanket feel amazing and reduce anxiety, but it keeps you from feeling overheated in the night. And I’ve been using an alarm clock app that “listens” to me sleep and wakes me up at the best time in my sleep cycle. This reduces drowsiness and helps me wake up feeling more clear-headed. I’ve also been listening to meditations while I sleep. Very helpful.
- Exercise – You don’t have to go crazy, but any sort of exercise that gets your heart pumping can help. Get a Fitbit like mine or any exercise tracker if you want to make sure you’re getting enough movement in – even one of the free apps offered on your smartphone that counts steps will work if you keep your phone with you all the time. Even just walking around the block or dancing with your kids while you tidy up the house can help. And hey, if you’ve got a treadmill, you can get in a couple rounds of CodyCross while getting in your steps!
- Meditation app – Meditation has proven mental and physical health benefits. It lowers your heart rate and stress levels – but most importantly for today, it can help get rid of brain fog. There are tons of free meditation apps out there. One that I’ve tried and find simple and enjoyable is called Headspace.
- Eating better – Focus on nutrition. A poor diet can adversely affect the way your brain functions. Eating a high-fat diet or a lot of refined sugars and carbohydrates can make brain fog worse. Take a close look at your diet. Try to eliminate sugar, unhealthy fats, alcohol, and caffeine. Focus on eating more produce and a variety of healthy foods. Eliminate artificial sweeteners because they can cause headaches and other issues. Eat healthier and more natural foods in general. There are tons of apps out there that can help with eating better. I like one called LifeSum, and you can also look at Weight Watchers, SparkPeople and a number of others.
Speaking of eating healthier, that means something different for a lot of people – those who struggle with various food allergies. So, to be safe, you might also look into the possibilities of food allergies and sensitivities. Some food allergies and sensitivities can also cause brain fog. For example, celiac disease is often associated with brain fog. If you have celiac disease, your body can’t digest gluten found in wheat, barley, or rye. You can also have brain fog with lactose intolerances. Talk to your doctor about any possible food intolerances and sensitivities. They may be affecting you in multiple ways.
Bottom line: while it feels overwhelming and almost paralyzing, brain fog can be resolved, and it doesn’t have to control your life.
Share your thoughts, ideas, and experiences in the comments section below, and let’s talk about it! Now don’t forget, click here to get your free copy of CODYCROSS – and tell me how you like it!!
*Editor’s Note: The Brain Fog video in this post has been sponsored by CodyCross.
Angela Atkinson is a Certified Life Coach and the author of more than 20 books on narcissism, narcissistic abuse recovery and related topics. A recognized expert on narcissism and narcissistic personality disorder who has studied and written extensively on narcissistic relationships since 2006, Atkinson was inspired to begin her work as a result of having survived toxic relationships of her own.
Atkinson offers trauma-informed coaching and has certifications in life coaching, level 2 therapeutic model, CBT coaching, integrative wellness coaching, and NLP. She is a certified trauma support coach and certified family trauma professional. She also has a professional PTSD counseling certification. Her mission is to help those who have experienced the emotional and mental devastation that comes with narcissistic abuse in these incredibly toxic relationships to (re)discover their true selves, stop the gaslighting and manipulation and move forward into their genuine desires – into a life that is exactly what they choose for themselves.
Along with her solution-focused life coaching experience, Atkinson’s previous career in journalism and research helps her to offer both accurate and understandable information for survivors of abuse in a simple-to-understand way that helps to increase awareness in the narcissistic abuse recovery community. Atkinson founded QueenBeeing.com Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support, the SPANily Narcissistic Abuse Recovery Support Groups and the Life Makeover Academy. In her life coaching practice, Atkinson’s clients enjoy her personalized approach that allows and encourages them to become the best possible versions of themselves and to succeed in doing what they love most. She offers individual and group coaching for victims and survivors of narcissistic abuse at NarcissisticAbuseRecovery.Online and NarcissismSupportCoach.com.