Have you ever watched a pregnant woman, holding her car keys, frantically looking everywhere… for her car keys? Have you ever been that woman? When “pregnancy brain” gives way to “mommy brain” you might find that you sometimes have difficulty completing normal, everyday tasks without concentrating on what you are doing. Fortunately, you don’t have to wait until your precious little one is 18 before coming to your senses.
What is “Mommy Brain”?
Just after giving birth, your brain is awash in hormones that are working to bring your body back into working order. However, hormonal flux only accounts for part of the mental fog that you might experience after having a baby. Parents who adopt their children also report having the same foggy brain that birth mothers experience. This is largely due to chronic sleep deprivation which can mimic being legally intoxicated. Frankly, it is a miracle you aren’t putting your cell phone in the freezer more often.
Fixing a Foggy Brain
Fortunately, clearing out the mental fog is not as difficult as it might seem. Scientists would tell you that you need to simply get more rest to clear out the cobwebs. While getting more sleep may seem like a luxury, it can dramatically improve your ability to concentrate. Taking a 20-minute “power nap” when you have the opportunity can help you feel refreshed and focused in a way that other activities cannot.
However, if your boss frowns on falling asleep in meetings or if getting more sleep simply is not possible, consider this. Daily exercise has been scientifically proven to improve concentration. Numerous studies have shown that people who perform daily physical activity can concentrate better and are more productive than their sedentary counterparts.
How It Works
It is no secret that exercise increases blood flow throughout the body. Your heart pumps faster, forcing blood through your arteries and veins at a rapid speed. Your breathing quickens to keep up with your body’s oxygen needs. This combination of blood flow and oxygenation stimulates your brain to produce “feel good” hormones called endorphins that elevate your mood and relieve stress which automatically gives your brain a boost. However, recent studies have also shown that moderate exercise actually increases the size of the hippocampus, the memory center of your brain. In essence, working out at a moderate pace can improve your ability to learn, retain information, concentrate, and recall what you need to know when you need it. If the thought of adding one more thing to your “to do” list makes you cringe and exercise simply does not have a place in your life, it is time to make room for it. You don’t have to spend hours in the gym or years on the treadmill for it to work for you. A simple 30-minute walk, hike or dance class three times a week can give you the same benefit of mental clarity that more intense exercise can. Not only will you feel more focused and productive, you will find that the fog will lift, and you will feel like “you” again.
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