By | MEGHAN RABBITT | www.prevention.com
Safe to say we’re all feeling more than a bit overwhelmed with the state of the world right now. And that can lead to some fuzzy-brain moments, says Jessica Caldwell, Ph.D., a neuropsychologist and the director of the Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement Prevention Center at Cleveland Clinic. “It’s tempting to think that brain fog won’t happen until you’re much older, but I see it in so many patients at every age—and stress is a known trigger,” she says.
Take Delia Lewis*, a marketing strategist from Manalapan Township, NJ. Three months into the COVID-19 pandemic, Delia started feeling a little foggier than usual. She’d sit down at her desk in her new home office and begin doom-scrolling instead of answering emails. Tasks she used to rip through in 10 minutes started taking an hour. On calls with her manager, she had to type madly as they talked so she could remember her to-do’s. “Usually I can keep all the balls in the air,” says Delia. “Now I’m like, ‘What did you want me to do?’ ”
Stress is certainly a big factor behind that fuzzy feeling, experts say: In fact, being frazzled creates toxins that can build up in your brain and impact your ability to focus, concentrate, and remember multiple things, according to Sandra Bond Chapman, Ph.D., chief director of the Center for BrainHealth at the University of Texas at Dallas. “We all do things that wear out the brain, and then we wonder why we’re not as clearheaded as we used to be,” she says. “When our bodies are fatigued, we recognize that we need to rest. But when our brains are tired, we tend to slog through.” Yet the more you ignore brain fog, the more it builds up—and the more likely it is that you’ll keep having unproductive days and many “it’s on the tip of my tongue” moments.