Feeling fatigued? Fuzzy? Rundown? Worn out? Downright frazzled?
The root cause of so many of our problems as women comes down to this one word. It is the precursor to the chaos that causes so many of our symptoms: hormone imbalance, gut issues, and, yes, brain fog. And a likely cause of your annoying symptoms as your precious energy is wasted by the stress, anxiety, and tension that your busy lifestyle places on you.
That word is stress.
HOW STRESS IMPACTS YOUR BRAIN
Though you might think stress only affects your body, you might not realize that it has a direct effect on your brain. In fact, it has serious implications on your brain’s overall health!
Cortisol, the main stress hormone released by your adrenal glands when they sense any threat or stressor, wreaks havoc on the chemical balance of your brain and sends it into survival mode. This is a very necessary response for short-term threats when you need that boost to overcome an enemy, but it causes so many problems when it becomes chronic.
Just take a listen to the myriad issues surrounding Brain Fog on my Essentially You Podcast devoted to this topic!
Extended periods of stress contribute to your feelings of mental chaos, fatigue, and forgetfulness for these reasons:
- Cortisol makes your neurons fire in random, disorganized patterns. This is great if you need spurts of energy and attention to fight off a lion attack! Not so good when sitting at your desk facing a barrage of emails. This can make you easily distracted, unable to finish a task, and easily fatigued.
- When cortisol enters your system, you burn extra energy. Again, it’s great for primal threats, but not so good for your modern lifestyle. Using extra energy while stressed makes you feel fatigued faster. Bring on the fogginess!
- Cortisol disrupts your HPA axis (stress response), eventually leading to hormonal imbalances from being in survival mode. One of the things I hear from women with hormone issues on an almost daily basis is that their mind is not as clear as it used to be, and there is good reason. Your HPA axis governs the hormone levels in your body, many of which are necessary for proper thinking.
- Finally, chronic stress impacts your hippocampus, the area in your brain responsible for memory and organization. Having trouble thinking through a task from start to finish?
Can’t seem to access your short-term and long-term memories? Yup. It makes you feel forgetful and incompetent!
SELF-CARE FOR YOUR BRAIN
You’ve heard me say it before: self-care is NOT selfish. It is essential for you to be the best version of yourself.
Obviously, your stress can have a major impact on your health, feelings of well-being, and ability to get things done. If you do only one thing to start taking charge of your health, make it incorporating self-care into your daily routine. Removing constant stress and supporting your body for healing miracles will make a huge impact on your journey to wellness!
So, where do you start?
- Get Restful Sleep! Sleep is when your mind processes the day and refuels itself. Often, when you are chronically stressed, it can be hard to get true restorative sleep. Using rituals like going to bed at the same time each night, journaling before bed, and spending your last hour of the day free of screens and other distractions can all help you get a better night’s sleep. Essential oils like Lavender, Vetiver, Roman Chamomile, and Cedarwood can also help you drift off faster and stay asleep longer so you can get the rest you need. Check out my Sleeping for Your Hormones blog series, parts one and two for more ideas on restful sleep.
- Move Your Body! Taking hikes and walks on the beach are things that I try to incorporate into my self-care routines as much as possible. The combination of fresh air and movement does wonders to clear my mind and refresh my body. Other gentle exercises like yoga or tai chi are also known to reduce your body’s stress responses and help you keep your calm. Find something that you will enjoy, and do it daily!
- Practice Meditation, Mindfulness, Prayer, and Deep Breathing! Each of these things can help slow the release of cortisol in your system and help you feel more relaxed. Listen to Podcast Episode #326 where we talk about all things healing, including adopting the right tools to help you sit with and process those overwhelming emotions.
- Supplements. As you implement positive habits to more healthily manage stress, consider adding a few heavy-hitting supplements to your daily routine that contain powerful, all-natural ingredients proven to aid in regulating and optimizing your stress response system. It takes very little effort yet yields remarkably noticeable outcomes. Neuro+ Support can improve focus, memory, and prevent age- and inflammation-related damage to the brain, while Calm & Restore relieves symptoms associated with chronic stress and debilitating anxiety. Attempting to relieve stress levels without adequate sleep is like binging on ice cream to lose weight – not happening. If restful sleep is a long-lost friend, Magnesium Restore and Zen Sleep can be integral additions to your supplement arsenal. While whole-food nutrition should always be your first line of defense, don’t underestimate the power of high-quality supplements in achieving more manageable stress levels, mental clarity, better sleep, and so much more.
- Use Essential Oils! Essential oils are amazing at making your self-care routine more effective, exciting, and sensory. When we inhale an essential oil, it immediately enters our body and lungs, affecting our system more quickly than any over-the-counter digestible remedies. This direct access to the limbic system allows the essential oils to influence a variety of body systems, such as centers for sleep, memory, and emotion, which is why it’s helpful to have them around as the first defense against anxiety and stress. If you do nothing else, keep Lavender and Wild Orange on hand — inhaling the scent of either of these will make you feel an instant calm.
Here are some of my favorites to help banish brain fog and reduce the stress that you can always have on hand:
BRAIN FOG BE GONE ROLLERBALL BLEND
8 drops Wild Orange essential oil
7 drops Bergamot essential oil
5 drops Rosemary essential oil
5 drops Peppermint essential oil
3 drops Frankincense essential oil
Add oils to a 10 ml glass rollerball bottle. Top off with fractionated coconut oil, replace top and cap, and swirl to combine. Apply to temples, back of neck, and behind years to ward off brain fog. Apply to palms, cup hands over your nose and mouth, and take several deep breaths to get instant mental clarity.
INSTANT ENERGY DIFFUSER BLEND
3 drops Wild Orange essential oil
2 drops Peppermint essential oil
BONUS: 5-MINUTE SELF-CARE IDEAS!
Looking for a quick way to get back to your real self and support your body in healing miracles without a lot of fuss?
Journaling is a proven self-care and mindfulness practice that can improve mental health and self-confidence. By journaling you can identify problems, fears, concerns, triggers, and symptoms which provides an opportunity for resolving facets of your life that have become worrisome and unmanageable. My Daily Self-Care Journal can help you attune to your mind and body in a powerful way, help you set intentions and goals, as well as adopt a spirit of gratefulness which studies show increase happiness.
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