If you experience ‘mental fog’ like Dwyane Wade, here are some solutions

Retired NBA star Wade recently opened up about experiencing energy-draining "brain fog." Here’s how to navigate the haze.

In our fast-paced modern world, where information bombards us from every angle and the demands for productivity seemingly never cease, it’s not uncommon to experience the perplexing phenomenon known as “mental fog” — also known as “brain fog.” Unfortunately, this cloudy state of mind does not discriminate, reportedly more common among young people but affecting people regardless of age, race, career or fitness level, especially after the pandemic. 

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Retired NBA star Dwyane Wade attends the 2023 Met Gala in May in New York City. He recently talked about dealing with mental fog.(Photo by Ray Tamarra/GC Images)

In fact, retired NBA star Dwyane Wade reports having experienced this feeling, recently telling People magazine, “I have mental fog. You know when things just go blank sometimes, and you’re like, ‘Where’s that word? How do you spell that word? What was that thought?'” 

Often experienced as a persistent cloud of lethargy, confusion, forgetfulness, and reduced mental acuity, mental fog can significantly impede productivity, hinder decision-making, and even affect emotional well-being. Even as a world-class athlete, Wade revealed mental fog has impacted his energy levels, leading him to partner with wellness supplement company Thorne for its Build to Last campaign, where the 41-year-old learned new ways to battle the mental haze and cater to his overall health. 

Although aging motivated Wade, brain fog should be addressed no matter how old you are (including this writer in her early 20s, who has frequently fallen victim to the fog). Whether from stress, lack of sleep, information overload, or other underlying factors, understanding how to manage and reduce cognitive cloudiness is crucial in navigating back to clarity and focus. 

“‘Brain fog’ isn’t a scientific term itself, but rather a mild cognitive dysfunction that may be caused by many different conditions,” said Dr. Dean MacKinnon, associate professor of the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Johns Hopkins, per Healthline

Studies have found anxiety, nutrient deficiencies, hormonal and chronic health conditions, and even viral infections like COVID-19 can all be causes of brain fog. 

“We all have periods of not thinking as sharply as we’d like,” MacKinnon continued. “But most of the time, the sensation is temporary.”  

As someone who has been forced to navigate the hazy roads of brain fog blindly, here are some tips to help you the next time your mind wanders: 

Do not pour that extra cup of coffee

Whether it’s a classic cup of joe, an energy drink, or candy, sugar and caffeine will not clear the haze. While they might trick your body into thinking it has energy, caffeine and sugar don’t really help with brain fog. They might actually make it — and anxiety and depression — worse. 

Instead, check in with your body. How much water have you had to drink? Believe it or not, a glass of cold water can give you the same energy boost as a Red Bull when you’re dehydrated. If you still want to consume caffeine, opt for more natural caffeine like green tea, matcha, or yerba mate. And if you need a snack, reach for energy-sustaining fruits or nuts instead of candy or chips. 

Hit the pause button

Between cellphones, laptops, tablets, and the endless notifications flooding all those devices, sometimes mental haze is the brain’s way of asking for a break. And no, scrolling on social media does not count as a break. Instead, give your mind a rest by meditating, which studies have found can increase concentration. 

Shake it off — literally 

Often, brain fog is triggered after hours of sitting in front of your computer. Taking a 15-minute break to move your body can help recenter your mind. The activity can be anything as long as it gets the blood flowing in your body — and may lower your cancer risk and lengthen your lifespan, too. So consider:

  • A walk outdoors
  • Stretching or yoga 
  • A quick dance break 

While these are quick solutions to help you push through brain fog, remember: A good sleep schedule and healthier meal choices during the workweek can help prevent the mental haze altogether. 

Haniyah Philogene is a multimedia storyteller and Lifestyle reporter covering all things culture. With a passion for digital media, she goes above and beyond to find new ways to tell and share stories.

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