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Learn & Practice

Workplace Wellness: Breaking through Brain Fog

By The Healthy Minds Team

In this week’s Workplace Wellness we provide tips on how to break through brain fog to nourish your well-being.

Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash  

Languishing” – it’s been a bit of a buzz word lately – with workers and others feeling just sort of blah. In terms of the workplace, this can manifest in multiple ways but often it can feel like intense “brain fog.” 

What is brain fog? You know that feeling when you should very much be focusing and working on the tasks laid out in your to-do list but instead you find yourself easily distracted and doing anything but the intended task? That’s brain fog – and it can really eat into both your productivity and your well-being.

You may be judging yourself for not being as productive – especially if you now have all those extra “work from home” hours. But long-term stress, like an 18 month pandemic, and the multiple distractions at home make brain fog seem like a pretty reasonable response by our minds at this moment in time.

So, while we are going to lay out a few ways to break through your brain fog – remember – have some self compassion. It’s a hard time and you’re doing the best you can.

Now, some tips:

  • Tip #1: Change your environment. As you’ve learned by now through the Healthy Minds Framework for Well-Being and Healthy Minds @Work – often our minds are on auto-pilot, and practicing awareness can help break through that auto-pilot. If you have a case of brain fog, you may just need to change your workspace up a bit. For example, if you’ve been working from home – can you (safely) work from a coffee shop or a friend’s house? If you’ve been going into the office, can you work from home instead? A different set of environmental cues can shift your brain – and even that slight shift could give you a bit of breakthrough.

  • Tip #2: Get better sleep. Many times our brains are foggy because we are just plain tired. High stress levels and worry can lead to sleep difficulties and you might be dragging the next day. If this is a repeated pattern – you may have long term effects. So tonight, be mindful of what you do right before bed and use these skills to cultivate a calm, clear mind as you drift off to sleep. One very concrete thing you can do is leave your phone outside of the bedroom. Or if you read before bed, read things that will uplift and inspire you. The key here is to pay attention to what you fill your mind with before you drift off to sleep to ensure you create the right conditions for a good night’s sleep.

  • Tip #3: Disrupt your day and find a friend. Another aspect of brain fog, especially if you are working from home, is the isolation you might feel, since you might not be bouncing ideas off of colleagues or friends. Getting a different perspective on a project or a situation can help us see a bit more clearly through the fog. Also – receiving the compassion of a friend helps keep your own self-judgment in check. If you can’t meet with someone in person, try a walking phone call. This changes your environment and gets you that social connection you need.
  • Tip #4: Reignite your purpose. In the midst of brain fog it is challenging to be inspired. By reconnecting with what inspires you and your sense of purpose for your work, you can remind yourself why you do what you do. Hopefully this will help you break through the fog and even for a small amount of time – get focused and a little excited. Try this 10 minute active meditation (take it as an opportunity to get outside on a walk to change your environment) to remind yourself of your previous Moments of Inspiration.

Lastly, if you try all of these changes and you’re still feeling a little foggy – it’s time for Plan B – take a mental health day to regroup, recharge and come back refreshed. But remember even the best of us are languishing right now – be kind to yourself and others as we all “work” through the rollercoaster that is working during this time.

Learn more about how the Healthy Minds Framework can support your workplace well-being with our Healthy Minds @Work program. Dive deeper into the scientific framework for well-being by registering for our Healthy Minds Masterclass: Founders Edition.

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