There you are chatting away, and you suddenly stop mid-sentence because whatever you were saying is...gone? Just read a message but couldn’t tell someone even under oath what it said? And hang on, why are you halfway up the stairs?
No, you’re most likely not losing your marbles. You’re having difficulty concentrating because of that dastardly menopause. She can be a real cow sometimes, can’t she?
Most women notice this symptom during the early phases of the perimenopause, and find it normally comes in waves as they move towards the menopause (and sometimes beyond) rather than being a constant issue.
Although not confirmed, it’s thought to be down to hormonal fluctuations – hormones have a strong link with neurotransmitters in the brain, so when they’re low it has a side-effect on brain function.
Oestrogen in particular encourages blood flow to the brain so, if there’s not enough of it about, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to focus at your best.
From brain-boosting foods to a workout in the mind gym, there’s lots of lifestyle switches you can make to help you get back up and firing on all cylinders.
REMEMBER: YOU ARE WHAT YOU EAT
‘Superfoods’ is a marketing term but we can genuinely get behind some of these tasty beauties.
Fruits like blueberries are packed with antioxidants and anti-inflammatories, and green leafy vegetables like kale contain goodies like Vitamin K.
Oily fish like salmon and mackerel have been shown in some studies to improve memory in older, healthy adults. Swap snacks like crisps and biscuits to dark chocolate and nuts too and you’ll be on fire at your next pub quiz.
STOCK UP ON SUPPLEMENTS
If you’re worried about not getting enough nutrients through your food, you might want to think about buying a supplement.
There are also herbal remedies available which claim to boost concentration.
TRAIN YOUR BRAIN
Although your brain isn’t literally a muscle, treat it like one and use mind games to exercise it. By doing these regularly, you’ll strengthen neural connections and improve your overall levels of concentration and memory.
Go on, sit back with a cuppa and do a crossword, sudoku – or any kind of mental workout that tickles your fancy – whenever you can.
SORT OUT YOUR BEDTIME ROUTINE
Making sure you set yourself up for a quality night’s sleep will pay dividends the following day.
Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Avoid screens at least two hours before trying to drift off as the blue light they emit tricks your brain into thinking it’s daytime.
Natural remedies like valerian can also help make for a more restful night. If you’re suffering from symptoms which are disrupting your sleep, like insomnia or night sweats, click to read more tailored advice.
MAKE SOME ‘ME TIME’
Stress plays a big role in disrupting concentration. Trying to reduce the number of stressful things you’ve got going on isn’t always possible but making sure you take some time for yourself away from a hectic schedule is important.
Go for a walk to clear your mind, take a long bath or try a menopause yoga tutorial. Whatever you do, do it for you.
HINTS AND TIPS FOR THOSE WHO WANT TO SUPPORT SOMEONE THEY THINK MAY BE ENTERING OR IN MENOPAUSE
Sorry what were we saying again? Oh yes, poor concentration and what you can do to help the menopausal people in your life.
OUR ADVICE TO THEM
We’ve suggested that they find ‘me time’ in their busy life to combat stress and sorts out their bedtime routine to set herself up for a brain-charging night’s rest.
They could also sharpen their brain with mind games like sudoku or crosswords.
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 your brain seemingly won’t focus on anything?
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 will probably know what they want to say quicker.
SUGGEST A SUPPLEMENT
Some people find ginkgo biloba supplements, extra vitamin B6 and soya isoflavones help give them a brain boost.
Why not gently ask if they have tried anything like that?
CREATE A WEEKLY MEAL PLAN
With poor concentration, it’s really important people get enough lean protein, vitamins K which is in leafy green like kale and two weekly portions of oily fish containing Omega 3.
Planning meals ahead is a good way to get an overview of what you’re eating and manage weight too, while joint shopping for the ingredients and sharing the cooking can take the pressure off.
FIND A NEW FOCUS
We can’t wish symptoms away, but it sure helps if we can find something nice to distract ourselves from them for a while.
Give yourselves and your relationship a new lease of life by finding something new to do together. Take their lead, they may not be up for learning to jive if their concentration is shot, but they might always have wanted to learn photography or how to cook Thai food.
If you’re worried about loss of concentration, 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: