by Amy Smith
Does your child struggle to remember events or directions, have trouble concentrating on schoolwork or feel that their thoughts are fuzzy all the time? Is it hard for them to focus on reading and retaining information? This “brain fog” may be a result of anxiety and can make everyday tasks a struggle, but there are ways to fight back and begin to clear the fog.
What Is Brain Fog?
Brain fog isn’t a disease or medical condition. Rather, it’s used loosely to refer to a set of symptoms that can stem from underlying physical and mental problems. Brain fog includes problems with cognition, memory, focus, and concentration. It can cause your child to feel like their brain is lost in swirling fog, making it difficult to read, carry on conversations, remember what task comes next or accomplish schoolwork. Brain fog can be caused by lack of sleep, stress, allergies, and other nutritional problems, hormonal imbalances, and underlying medical conditions like anemia, hypothyroidism, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, depression, and migraines.
Brain Fog and Anxiety
Brain fog is likely to affect people with autism spectrum disorders and other neuropsychiatric disorders, but when it comes to brain fog and anxiety, it may not be clear that there’s a cause-and-effect relationship. We know that a brief episode of anxiety can make it hard to remember familiar directions or other information, and chronic anxiety may cause longer-standing problems with memory and focus, creating the feeling of brain fog. Stress, in general, is one of the top causes of brain fog. So, if your child suffers from anxiety, the high level of stress from anxious thoughts and behaviors may cause brain fog. Other side effects of anxiety, such as poor sleep and poor diet, can also lead to brain fog.
Clearing the Fog
You don’t have to be sure about the cause of brain fog. Whatever is making that “fuzzy brain” feeling, there are some positive steps you can take to help clear the fog.
● Get good sleep, and plenty of it! Poor sleep is a major cause of both brain fog and anxiety. Help your child establish a regular bedtime routine and aim for at least 10 hours of sleep for preschoolers and 9 hours of sleep for school-aged kids and teenagers.
● Clean up your diet. Cutting out sugar and eating plenty of whole foods, including healthy protein, fruits, and veggies, can lower inflammation in the body and support healthy brain function. Be sure to give your school-aged child a breakfast packed with protein and healthy fats to provide their brain with enough fuel for a morning of mental work in school.
● Lower stress. Easier said than done, right? The main stressor in your kid’s life may be anxiety itself. Taking Brillia to help normalize neurotransmitter activity can make a huge difference as part of a holistic approach to managing symptoms of anxiety. You can also help lower your child’s stress level by introducing them to techniques for mindfulness and relaxation.
● Get moving. You probably know from experience that a walk in the fresh air and sunshine can give you a whole new outlook on life and improve your mental clarity. Encourage your child to participate in regular physical exercise, especially outdoors, such as hiking, walking, biking, yoga or playing sports.
These four steps can improve brain function, reduce anxiety and begin to clear the fog that’s been troubling your kid. Check in with your child on the feeling of mental fatigue. Do either of you notice improvement after a good night’s sleep, a game of tag outside or a day of balanced eating?
Amy Smith is a writer specializing in family and parenting, and also teaches English, Latin, and music at a private school. She lives with her husband and five children on a small homestead in rural Pennsylvania.