“Where did I put my glasses?” “Did I remember to turn off the stove?” “What am I forgetting?”
All people experience moments of forgetfulness, especially when they’re stressed out, yet these moments tend to happen more frequently as we grow older. And women may experience more of them – at least at first.
When women go through menopause or perimenopause, they will often start noticing episodes of “fuzzy thinking” and brief lapses of memory. Cognitive issues among menopausal women may be related to dropping estrogen levels or other subtle hormonal changes, but there’s no need to panic and worry that you’re “losing it.” After menopause, most women will “bounce back” from memory loss, especially if they take care of themselves better. “Meno-fog” will probably crop up sooner or later, but you can find relief with these tips.
Regular physical activity is one of the most reliable methods for reducing meno-fog. Many studies of older adults have shown that regular exercise helps strengthen mental abilities and boost brain activity. It doesn’t have to be a super-charged cardio regimen, either: Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, is enough to help clear out the mental cobwebs. Exercise opens the arteries to increase blood flow, bringing more oxygen to the brain, as well as the rest of your internal organs. Inefficient blood circulation is directly linked to memory loss and aphasia (a loss for words), so schedule at least a half hour of walking three times a week.
Good nutrition is essential for optimal brain function, so make sure you’re eating a brain-boosting diet. Get plenty of dark green, leafy vegetables for their B-complex vitamins and antioxidants, and consume foods that contain Omega-3 fatty acids, such as salmon, mackerel, and tuna at least three times per week. B vitamins, antioxidants, and essential fatty acids are thought to help cognitive function by reducing inflammation and plaque in tissues of the brain. Likewise, avoid refined sugars and overly processed “white” foods like non-whole-grain bread, cereal, and pasta, because they lead to raised insulin levels, obesity, and lowered availability of glucose to the brain – which it needs to think.
Getting enough rest is something many of us overlook but is one of the easiest ways to regain clarity of mind. After too many nights of disrupted or inadequate sleep, cognitive functions begin to erode. Short- and long-term memory both suffer, reaction time lengthens, and coordination and judgment start to slip. Serial sleep-deprivation offers nothing positive for the human body. Cultivate your sleep habits by making your bedroom dark, cool, and quiet. Set a schedule for “winding down” at the end of the day. Don’t drink caffeine in the afternoon and don’t bring computers or phones into the bedroom.
Difficulty remembering words, inability to focus, or feeling confused by clashing thoughts are all signs that one’s body is overwhelmed – and probably stressed out. Exercise, meditation, and music are all great ways to mentally de-stress, but here’s another tip: You can also de-stress your mind by getting organized on paper. Try making a list of everything you need to do and separating each item under a “have-to” or “want-to” column. Then assign each item to a date on the calendar. By organizing your tasks in a precise manner, you take a tremendous amount of pressure off your busy mind – and allow it to do the things you want it to do.
Puzzles and logic games, like crosswords and Sudoku, along with learning new skills, are great brain-builders. Learning a new language, studying music, or playing a memory game are ideal for strengthening mental agility and may even help damaged brain cells to heal. You don’t need to buy specialized equipment either – you can start by writing down all the U.S. states you can think of or all the names of your school classmates. There are plenty of free games on the Internet, too, so your computer or phone can be a brain-boosting resource as much as it’s entertainment. Remember, your brain is a lot like a muscle – use it or lose it!
By taking better care of yourself physically, mentally, and getting regular checkups, you can make meno-fog a thing of the past.
If you are feeling symptoms of menopause and perimenopause, you can find a doctor who can help you in our provider directory.
Do you have a tip for reducing meno-fog? Share your story below.