Let’s Talk About Periods and Brain Fog

woman with her head down on a train taable, looking stressed

So, I missed my post last week. Because of my period. Ironic given my niche. Here’s the thing, I was tired, I couldn’t focus, basic tasks took far more energy than usual. Posts for my other blog took twice as long to make, and let’s not even talk about the amount of time it took to psych myself up enough to actually make the recipes. My other blog is a food blog, if you didn’t know and that last part made no sense. And that was just PMS. I’m sure many of you can relate to all of that, but I feel like that side of things is often overlooked. When issues periods cause come up, we talk about the physical pain a lot, even the low moods they can bring – but what about that overwhelming feeling that you’re unable to function and can’t really explain why? Let’s talk about periods and brain fog.  

Photo by Abbie Bernet on Unsplash

What is brain fog?

Brain Fog –  Brain fog is the inability to have a sharp memory or to lack a sharp focus. You just really feel like you’re not yourself and you’re unable to think clearly.

Things I experience when I have period brain fog: 

  • An inability to put a sentence together – sometimes I forget words. Sometimes I start a sentence then completely forget my point half way through. And sometimes I know exactly what I want to say, but I look at my keyboard like some sort of alien and I don’t know how to make words appear on the screen.  
  • Brain fatigue – Similar to the last one, but a little different. Sometimes I’ll get asked a question and an answer will appear in my head. But I can’t muster up more than a little groan or noise in response. 
  • Inability to focus – I’ll open a document with the best intentions in the world of being productive. Then it takes an hour to type a paragraph. The words might be there, and my fingers might remember how to type. But my brain isn’t engaged enough for long enough periods of time to actually type anything in a cohesive way. Paragraphs may appear, but they don’t necessarily flow with what comes before or after. I’m essentially left with a jagged bullet point list that needs a lot of further attention.  
  • Forgetfulness – Walk into a room and can’t remember why? We’ve all been there. But this takes over completely. Replying to an email? Can’t remember the question I was asked even though I read it 30 seconds ago. Make a recipe? I have to write ingredients and steps as I go because there’s no chance I’ll remember when it’s time to type it up later. But then there’s a really high chance I’ll forget to check when I put something in the oven so I won’t know how long it took to cook. So, I’ll have to repeat this whole process another day anyway.  

The list goes on, but those are the main examples. Do you experience any of these things? 

What’s the link between periods and brain fog? 

We all know that menstruation in general is an under researched area. So, surprise surprise, there’s no concrete scientific explanation for this phenomenon that is ‘period brain’. Google it – you’ll likely find lots of people (women) acknowledging that it exists. But you’ll find very little offering an explanation of why. There are some suggestions that it could be that fluctuations in estrogen impacts different women differently, causing brain fog in some of us. But if we’re going to be blunt about this, blaming estrogen with a lack of research seems like the text book copout answer for everything period related.  

Tips for dealing with it 

This is easier said than done. And a lot of what I’m about to say relies on you having a level of flexibility over your own schedule, and a cycle reliable enough to plan for this.  

If you’re looking for how to avoid it, that’s an answer I don’t have. But I have picked up a few tips on how to be somewhat productive when you feel like your brain can’t do basic tasks.  

  • Set aside easy but productive tasks – For me, this is stuff like making pins for Pinterest, editing photos for future blog posts, scheduling social media posts. Essentially stuff I need to do that requires zero input from outside sources and little brain function.  
  • Small tasks – all of the things I mentioned above are all small, which is intentional because that’s all I can handle. What those tasks are for you will vary, but it helps if you’re not trying to do a big task.  
  • Take a day – if you really can’t manage and are screwing up more tasks than you’re getting right – take a half day if possible. You’re only going to have to go back and correct it later. And right now, with many of us working from home with somewhat more flexibility with working hours, this is probably easier than ever to accommodate.  
  • Play to your own strengths – you know your body, I know mine. I know I’m more productive at night most of the time, but I also know that my brain fog is worse on a morning. I’m essentially useless. If you can’t take a day, try to plan your schedule so that harder tasks fit in when you have the most capacity to handle it.  

Do you experience period brain fog? If so, do you have any extra tips for dealing with it.  

Until next time,  

Sophie 

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