Moms and Dads

Period Brain Fog is Real: How To Deal With It

If there was Mom Brain then now, there’s Period Brain Fog. Here’s how to deal with it when we need all that juice.

Mom Brain and Period Brain Fog may be two different things but they do have the same effect. We start forgetting the simple things, getting angry over the littlest of things, and frustrated when people don’t follow what we know as “common sense.” While Mom Brain happens because the brain is forming new and permanent connections to adapt to the new change in our lives, Period Brain Fog feels like that one week where everything that happened was in a blur.

However, one thing’s for sure: most of these are caused by chemical changes which we can manage via a slight lifestyle change. Here are some ways to cope with Period Brain Fog when we need our brains to work:

1. Eat more iron-rich food.

When we bleed during our period, we also lose large amounts of iron. Being low on iron makes us more prone to fatigue, breathlessness, and headaches, making us incapable of processing things around us. Our Period Brain Fog doesn’t make us liars; it just makes us more prone to missing out on details because our senses — sight, smell, taste, touch, and hearing — are running on a lower amount of oxygen.

Vegetables like Spinach and Sweet Potato and meats like beef and chicken have high amounts of iron to help compensate for low iron levels. And if the foods are not available, some multivitamins have iron in them.

2. If you’re working, use your sick leaves.

The Department of Labor (DOLE) in the Philippines mandates every company to provide at least five (5) sick leaves although, it’s more customary to provide fifteen (15). Menstrual stress is an actual physiopsychological condition and if we have pre-existing issues like endometriosis, PCOS, and other hormonal issues — periods can go from a quick trip to the doctor to being hospitalized for several days. The pain from these issues is also highly distracting, making it hard for us to work properly and leaving us with a more stressful situation.

Although work will always have deliverables, it won’t make sense to constantly “power through it” when our brains are too busy managing the pain. Use your leaves!

3. Send out a quick warning to the family before the period brain fog hits.

Our periods are a monthly thing that lasts for almost a week, giving us the remaining three weeks to warn the family what may happen. Although no two instances of period brain fog are alike, there are some patterns that we can list down on various period tracking apps that we can install on our phones.

If our family’s all girls, it’s best to warn Dad because Menstrual Synchrony (or the McClintock Effect) happens. This is when all the women and girls in the house get their periods and suffer from Period Brain Fog, all at the same time.

If it’s mostly boys then, do warn them that we will not be as patient. While Dad may have gotten an idea of how to predict, the kids haven’t.

4. If you have an existing mood disorder, check in with your psychiatrist.

Period Brain Fog doesn’t just affect how we think but also how we feel. For those who are already suffering some form of depression or anxiety, Period Brain Fog can make us feel worse. The chemical imbalance can amplify our negative feelings out of nowhere, leaving us either numb or volatile. In some cases, psychiatrists may change our prescription especially if we’re taking other hormone-related medicines like birth control pills to manage our reproductive health.

5. Write a list of 3 simple things to do in a day.

Period Brain Fog can make us hate ourselves for not being productive. But what can we do? There are just some days when those creative juices don’t come out or we can’t figure out how to assemble a broom! So that we’re not so hard on ourselves, write a list of three things we need done the night before. That way, we’re giving ourselves a sense of achievement.

It doesn’t have to be something complicated. Little things like depositing the cheques into the bank, restocking groceries, or finally making that overnight oatmeal recipe we’ve been wanting to try can give us that high that we’re productive for the day.

6. Mute work chats.

Most chat apps like Viber, Telegram, Messenger, and even WhatsApp have a “mute chat” option. It allows us to not hear any notifications for the next couple of hours, giving us time to breathe. These are usually in the settings section of the chat room or if we’re on a desktop, right-click the chat’s channel and select the mute option.

Hearing those dings is actually stressful because it causes sudden chemical shifts in our minds. We’re conditioned that every time we hear a ding on our messenger apps, we jump up and flood ourselves with adrenaline to finish the job. Doing that instantaneously and several times, back and forth, can leave us with a worse Period Brain Fog than last time!

Period Brain Fog is real but hard to explain when everything’s just stressful!

Unfortunately, period brain fog isn’t easy to believe in, especially when there are only behavioral or mood symptoms rather than the typical physical ones. However, these are very much real conditions and it’s something we often just try to “power through.” Not every mama can do that though. Every mom and daughter has unique body constitutions and some Period Brain Fogs can be worse than others.

Although we can do these things for ourselves, we’ll still appreciate a little love and support from family, friends, and colleagues during that week.

More about women’s or mom’s health?

Trishka Puno Samonte: A Mom’s Fight Against APAS and Birth Trauma
Exclusive on Modern Parenting: The Real Story of a Filipina Living with PCOS and Type-1 Diabetes
Bindi Sue Irwin Hopes to Continue Raising Awareness for Endometriosis

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