It seems to be happening more frequently and you can’t figure out why: You are in the middle of a conversation with a colleague and suddenly you lose your train of thought. You know you put your phone down, but you can’t remember where. You forget one of the ingredients in a recipe you’ve made dozens of times.
What’s going on, and why is your mind in a muddle? You may be experiencing PMS brain fog.
A few weeks before your period, progesterone levels rise. This, in turn, causes a drop in serotonin, a chemical in the brain that affects your mood and clear thinking.
PMS brain fog is not a medically recognized term, but it is a PMS symptom which is far too familiar. Those who experience PMS brain fog often feel unfocused, confused, and forgetful. They may even feel clumsy and off center.
How can you clear the cobwebs in your mind? Here are a few tips:
- Write things down. On any given day you have a list of things to do. When you are feeling great, you may remember to get them all done. However, if you are experiencing PMS brain fog, as well as other PMS symptoms, you may inadvertently drop the ball. Making to-do lists, posting reminders on your calendar, and setting alarms on your phone can help keep you on track.
- Rest up. Many women feel extra tired before their period. Go to bed at the same time each night, and try your best to get eight hours of sleep. If that’s not possible, take a short nap or close your eyes and relax for a few moments during the day.
- Get enough iron. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 10 percent of women experience iron deficiency. Iron is important because it helps transport oxygen through the body. When we don’t have enough oxygen, we feel fatigued and that can lead to brain fog. There are many foods that are rich in iron, including dark, leafy vegetables, such as spinach; peas; beans; red meat, poultry and fish; nuts; dried fruits, such as apricots; whole grains; and tofu. Even dark chocolate is high in iron!
- Move your body. Exercise is not only good for your body; it’s good for your mind. Beat the brain fog blahs by taking a brisk walk, doing some stretches, or engaging in your favorite sport. If you have a desk job, instead of sending that email to your colleague on the other side of the office, walk over to him or her and share your thoughts. Rather than eating lunch at your desk, head to the office cafeteria or step outside for some fresh air.
- Keep yourself regular. Constipation can contribute to brain fog. When foods are improperly digested, they can create bowel toxicity. These toxins, in turn, can travel to the brain and contribute to fuzzy thinking. Filling up on fiber-rich foods, such as bran, beans, whole grains, nuts and seeds, leafy green vegetables, and certain berries like raspberries and elderberries, can help keep you regular. One or two teaspoons of flaxseed can also manage occasional constipation.
- Take a break. A cluttered mind, a packed schedule, and overall stress can exacerbate PMS brain fog. Allow yourself to slow down and take deep breaths. Focus on what’s happening at that very moment. Also, don’t beat yourself up for putting life on pause for a few moments. Taking a break will help refresh your mind.
Brain fog is often caused by a hormonal imbalance that takes place a few weeks before your period; however, there may be other reasons for this condition. It’s always best to check with your physician to rule out other possible health issues and to get additional support, if needed.