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3 Tricks to Help You Beat Brain Fog

Cold weather brain fog is real, but there are things you can do to prevent it.


You might expect that crisp weather sharpens thinking, but temperature dips and less daylight can cause levels of focus-regulating brain chemicals to drop, leading to changes in cognitive abilities, according to a study published in the journal PLOS Medicine. While brain fog can be scary to experience in the moment, there are fortunately some easy, scientifically-proven steps you can take to stop those confused feelings in their tracks. It turns out brain fog doesn’t necessarily have to keep you from enjoying the cooler weather and all the fun activities that come with the season.

Trouble focusing? Sniff some lavender.

If you’re listening to a favorite podcast or trying to read a new page-turner and can’t focus, try taking a slow whiff of lavender essential oil. Scientists say the herb’s menthone and cineole sharpen alertness and concentration. A happy bonus: research suggests focusing on smelling pleasant scents daily optimizes brain function, and could help people suffering from dementia.

Can’t find your keys? Crinkle a sheet of tinfoil.

Instead of tearing the house apart when you can’t locate your glasses or keys, ball up a sheet of aluminum foil while paying attention to the feeling as it compresses in your hands. Practicing mindfulness with a simple gesture like this can help to boost spatial memory (the kind needed to find objects or navigate directions). The tactile sensation of the foil momentarily redirects your attention, letting your brain’s memory centers reboot so it’s significantly easier to access stored information. A study on mindfulness published in the journal Scientific Reports found that 63 percent of participants reported meditation to aid in their memory, concentration, and general wellness.

Forget if you’ve taken your meds today? Put your mind on rewind.

If you’re like half of folks who take prescription meds, no matter how much you rack your brain, you sometimes just can’t recall whether you’ve already taken today’s pills. To erase that mental block, imagine walking backward. British research suggests the trick walks the brain back in time to when the memory was first filed away, so it’s easier to retrieve, instantly improving short-term recall in a phenomenon called the “mnemonic time-travel effect.”

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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