You used to pride yourself on your memory – but too often these days you forget what you only remembered five minutes ago. And why did you come into the kitchen?
Thoughts can escape you mid-sentence. New information just won’t sink in. It’s like trying to think through a fog. And it’s bloody frustrating.
It’s not just you, you know. ‘Brain fog’, an inability to think clearly, is a common symptom in the perimenopause.
Whether you are trying to crack on with a challenging report, or just want to relax with a book – it can be hard to wrestle your brain into focusing on the matter at hand.
But what causes brain fog in the perimenopause? When your brain isn’t behaving itself and feels more like cotton wool than a useful organ, it’s down to those bloomin’ hormones again. This time oestrogen and testosterone are sloping off and affecting your cognitive powers.
Other symptoms of the menopause, such sleep problems, low mood, and hot flushes and night sweats don’t help your brain to fire on all cylinders either.
f you don’t want to wait to sharpen up your noodle, there are still things you can do to find your way through brain fog.
ADD IN HRT as one of the treatment options, see our website
We know, we keep telling you to get a good night’s kip. But if you are going to give your mind a fighting chance to deal with all these hormonal changes, as well as your busy life, then it’s vital you work on your sleep deficit.
What can you do to improve the quality and quantity of shut-eye in your bedroom? Take a look at our top tips on dealing with sleep problems and put some into action.
USE IT OR LOSE IT
We all have bits of our body that we’d like to tighten (hey smutty lady, I was thinking of tummies rather than vaginas). But have you ever thought about toning your mind?
You don’t have to do a crossword a day, taking up a new hobby like learning to play the saxophone or interacting with new people will do the trick. Anything that works out your grey matter in a different way.
Think of it as the mental equivalent of your feet walking on sand rather than on a flat pavement. The more you challenge your mind, the sharper it will get.
Exercising your body as well as your mind will give you the best chance of blowing away brain fog - as well as a few personal cobwebs.
Wherever possible, get out in the fresh air. Reinvigorate yourself. Regular exercise helps alleviate so many perimenopausal and menopausal symptoms. Why not kill several birds with one heart rate-elevating stone?
MAKE THINGS EASIER
Don’t doggedly expect yourself to remember things if you’re feeling hazy.
Instead of getting frustrated by doing what you’ve always done, take the pressure off by keeping a ‘to do’ list or putting reminders in your phone. Don’t forget that Google is always there to take the pressure off too.
FEED YOUR BRAIN
We do hope you like fish? No worries if not. You can always take an Omega 3 supplement to support your cognitive function if you’re not a fan of mackerel. (Other fatty cold-water dwellers like salmon, tuna, herring, and sardines will also do nicely).
Chomp on walnuts and chia seeds too to cut through brain fog. Flaxseed, soybean and canola and olive oils will also help to keep your cogs turning. As will healthy fats in foods like avocados. And if you are unsure how to balance your diet, talk to a registered dietician.
CHECK IT OUT
If your mental weather forecast goes from a bit misty to pea soup – then it might be a good idea to talk to your doctor.
Then you can rule out other health issues or ask about treatments like HRT that might help you think and feel a whole lot better.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
What they really need with this particular symptom is their partner, friends and colleagues to be understanding. Read on to find out how you can support them.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
In terms of self-care, we’ve recommended that they sort out their sleep routine, work out their mental muscles and exercise their body to blow away the cobwebs in their head.
They can also find new ways to remind themselves of information and tasks to take the pressure off. But if the fog thickens, it’s a good idea to encourage them to get checked out by their GP.
It can be frustrating when you don’t get a clear answer to what you think is a simple question. But imagine the frustration of not being able to find the answer because of brain fog?
Give them time and don’t make it a big deal if they can’t give you the answer right away. Brushing over it will stop them from feeling flustered and means they'll probably know what they want to say quicker.
ASK THEM TO EXPLAIN
Don’t assume you know what their brain fog feels like. Gently ask them to explain the effect it is having on them physically and emotionally.
You may not be able to do anything to make them feel better. But they may not want answers, they may just need to talk – and be properly heard. Switch your listening ears on and give them your full attention.
Regular exercise is a key tool for managing brain fog during the perimenopause and menopause.
Combining something you want to do (spend time together) along with something you need to do (exercise) can be a real game changer.
Partnering up to go for a walk, swim or to the gym is also more likely to help you both stay motivated.
CREATE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
With brain fog, it’s really important they get enough lean protein, Omega 3 from oily fish and healthy fats from things like avocados and nuts in their diet.
Planning meals ahead is a good way to get an overview of what you’re eating, while shopping for the ingredients together and sharing the cooking can take the pressure off. You could even sign up for a cookery class to learn some new culinary skills.
SUGGEST A SUPPLEMENT
If they are still not getting enough Omega 3 from their diet to support their cognitive function, perhaps you could suggest a supplement?
If you’re worried about brain fog, you should see your GP who can discuss your symptoms in the context of the menopause.
If you'd like more information, we have put some further references below for you.