How to Get Rid of Brain Fog

What to do when you just can't seem to focus

<p>Carol Yepes / Moment / Getty</p>

Carol Yepes / Moment / Getty

Medically reviewed by Steven Gans, MD

We're all at our best when our minds and bodies are working seamlessly. Take out one of those two, and life can suddenly seem impossible. Such is the case with brain fog, which means exactly what it sounds like: That your brain is feeling foggy.

Brain fog can mean different things to different people and may reflect the experience of having trouble focusing, forgetting things, losing executive functioning powers, thinking and processing more slowly than you usually do, and having a hard time making the connection from thinking something to successfully getting the words out of your mouth or taking action.

Brain fog itself is a symptom, not a disorder or diagnosis. That means that it can have a variety of causes, and usually in order to treat it, you have to treat the cause. It can be the result of nutrient deficiency, substances—both recreational and prescribed, not sleeping enough, stress, hormonal changes, and a variety of medical, neurologic and psychiatric conditions, including COVID, brain injury, and depressive disorders.

There's no one simple fix for brain fog, but there are definitely ways to deal with it—whether alone or by dealing with a potentially larger physical or emotional wellness issue. We'll walk you through what to do to find the mental clarity you need and deserve.

Getting Rid of Brain Fog

There are many different ways to attack this issue, ranging from the simple to the more complex. Although you may feel your brain fog may be related to stress, it may very well be reflective of a health issue, and just dealing with your stress may not make your brain fog go away. A visit to your primary care practitioner may be the best place to start.

With that said, let's discuss lifestyle changes, cognitive strategies, natural remedies, as well as when it's time to address the issue with a professional.

Lifestyle Changes to Reduce Brain Fog

If your brain fog isn't caused by a malady, lifestyle changes could help. "When we don’t have a healthy routine, that can increase our chances of experiencing brain fog," explains psychologist Dr. Patrice Le Goy.

She adds that "lifestyle choices such as good sleep hygiene, regular exercise and stress reduction techniques can help reduce brain fog." That can be as easy as taking a walk, which accomplishes both stress reduction and exercise, but it's not realistic to expect that a walk can fix a health issue. Rather, consider that a first step to healthier lifestyle practices.


If you're new to learning about techniques for managing stress, know that there are many readily available and free techniques to explore. Breathing exercises and mindfulness could both help with your mental clarity.

You'll also want to exercise caution around substances, from caffeine to recreational drugs. These can contribute to brain fog in a variety of ways including impacting your sleep, and too little sleep can make you foggy.

Employing a daily routine for your healthy lifestyle practices will help you get in the habit of ensuring your wellness.

Cognitive Strategies to Improve Mental Clarity

There are a number of different ways you can potentially improve brain fog just by focusing on how you use your brain. Picking up a book and spending time reading can be helpful, as can mental exercises like puzzles or word games.

Meditation is also famously helpful for improving one's clarity. "One of the best cognitive strategies to improve mental clarity is engaging in a regular meditation practice," says Le Goy. To begin, she suggests: "Find a form of meditation that feels right to you and that you want to stick with. Some people enjoy forms like walking meditations that allow them to get outside, enjoy nature, relax, and get some exercise all at the same time."

Related: 8 Types of Meditation to Find Your Calm

Supplements and Natural Remedies for Brain Fog

Although the evidence is quite mixed whether specific supplements can improve your brain health, if your brain fog is caused by a particular nutritional deficiency, addressing that may help remedy your symptoms. "I don’t recommend specific supplements, but do suggest that people visit their primary care physician who can check for vitamin and mineral deficiencies," says Le Goy.

A Personal Experience

As someone who experienced serious brain damage from carbon monoxide poisoning and recovered from it, I believe that supplements played a role in getting my mind back in working order. The one that I feel helped me the most is magnesium l-threonate, a particular a form of magnesium. Although it is important to note that there is limited data to support the clinical use of this supplement in recovery from brain injury.

This is just my experience and your doctor can help you make the best decisions regarding what might be most helpful to you.

Other supplements, such as omega 3 fatty acids, have some data to support their use in brain health. Before beginning any supplement, you should first speak with a healthcare professional, as many can interact with medications or might not be best for your particular health needs.

Seeking Professional Help for Persistent Brain Fog

If you have visited your primary care practitioner to ensure that you don't have a visible health issue, and you have tried changing your lifestyle, it may be time to seek a more in-depth answer. "If your brain fog is interfering with your daily life and you are forgetting very simple tasks, or not able to do your job or maintain your relationships you should consider seeking professional advice," advises Le Goy.

You may already be frustrated because initial results weren't conclusive, but that's why it's important to take the next step for a deeper look, and ask the right questions to advocate for yourself:


Before seeing your doctor, have a list of your most persistent and impactful symptoms.

If you have concerns that you may have a specific ailment, you should share those with your doctor.

Final Takeaways

Brain fog can make your life feel very hard, and impact your functioning at school, work and in relationships. It might be related to stress or lifestyle. You should seek out an appointment with a doctor to rule out any medical diagnoses that might be playing a role. If the cause appears to be stress based, lifestyle changes and cognitive exercises may be enough to fix your brain fog.

However, if it is caused by a medical, neurological or psychiatric condition, you'll need to take action to diagnose and address the underlying cause with the help of a medical professional. With these tips, you could soon be on your way to feeling like yourself again, from head to toe.

Read the original article on Verywell Mind.