Book Review: Overcoming Stress-Induced Brain Fog

Book cover: Overcoming Stress-Induced Brain Fog by Jill Weber

Overcoming Stress-Induced Brain Fog by Jill Weber covers ten strategies to find focus and make your mind work better. It’s aimed at people who are experiencing brain fog due to chronic stress rather than due to illness. The book draws on concepts from cognitive behavioural therapy (ACT), acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and mindfulness.

The book begins by explaining how chronic stress affects the mind and body, and then there’s a chapter devoted to each of the ten strategies, including overcoming survival mode with emotional awareness and overcoming irritability and stress with mindfulness and acceptance.

The author differentiates between false self-care (coping strategies that only end up making things worse) and healthy coping, and the book addresses healthy habits around nutrition, sleep, exercise, and relaxation.

Some of the other topics that are addressed include avoidance, cognitive distortions, self-compassion, perfectionism, self-talk, and how to make new habits stick.

This book isn’t aimed at people dealing with mental illness, and I think the author does a good job of presenting therapy and mental health-related concepts in a way that’s likely to be accessible for people who don’t have background knowledge. It’s practical and doesn’t feel especially therapy-ish, and I think it would be a good choice for people dealing with chronic stress.

On a side note, I’m not a huge fan of the term brain fog. This isn’t an issue with the book, but the term more generally; I just find it a bit too vague to be useful, and there isn’t an equivalent medical term. Fuzzy-headedness in chronic stress, fibromyalgia, and depression aren’t necessarily the same thing (for example, a study in the journal PLoS One looks at differences in cognitive symptoms between fibromyalgia and depression), but they may all end up getting lumped into the same colloquial brain fog bucket. I probably care because my depression-induced molasses brain feels subjectively different from stressed-out-when-well brain.

Is brain fog of any sort something that you deal? How do you manage it?

Overcoming Stress-Induced Brain Fog is available on Amazon (affiliate link).

I received a reviewer copy from the publisher through Netgalley.

You can find my other reviews on the MH@H book review index or on Goodreads.

33 thoughts on “Book Review: Overcoming Stress-Induced Brain Fog”

  1. Chronic stress yes, but no brain fog. To be honest I had to Google brain fog and if you summarise all the symptoms it can pass off for Alzheimer’s. Reading off Google can be extreme sometimes 🙂. I would not say my memory is great, but I think it’s more the long term impact of being stressed than like I have a brain fog when I’m stressed from a situation and I can’t remember anything.

  2. Brain fog is certainly something I suffer with and has got worse since the stress of my deputyship.

    I also had a period of a few months where it was so bad that typing up an email was hard to do because I Couldn’t remember how to do it and when I was working out the steps, I then forgot what I was emailing about.
    This is the issue that I have mentioned I have had in a blog post, but not gone into depth with because of the difficulty I have had processing it and the issue I have had. It’s not at the worst now, this. But I am mindful to try and not get there again, hence random breaks from social media and my break announcement to come on my blog.

    I still rely on my ring binger journal I once shared on my previous blog post. My monthly calendar is the important part of it. I don’t use much of the other sections now. But they are there if needed and I leave a note list on my dinning table if its a day where I need to do more than one thing, so I can cross it off and not forget.

    I also use my phone to set reminders too. Odd occasion the reminder may be set on my phone in addition to the paper, as an additional back up to make sure I don’t forget.

      1. Yes, it’s dragged on far too long. I received a load of paperwork (copies) that is what will be used in court and I had a form to sugn and post back on whether I agree or not with the takeover of another person named, taking over deputyship. I didn’t have to sign because if you don’t send it back by a certain date, they take it that you agree. But I signed it, as happy anyway with whoever takes over mentioned. It will be sometime after near end of November, when there is a next free date on court. So depending on how soon, I could be free of it by New Year all being well. If not a bit before.

  3. I see what you mean with “brain fog” being too vague. I guess that’s why I like it to describe what I experience because it’s hard to pin down. Apparently mine is fibromyalgia brain fog, but I do now live with chronic (some self-induced) stress, so that probably doesn’t help. The main thing that changed for me was how I used to be very cognitive-minded and studious; I loved studying for hours, writing for hours, learning and remembering huge amounts of data for my degree and swallowing it all up. I also did creative writing and loved to debate (argue) about things. Now my concentration is shot, I have to do several things at once because I hit a wall so quickly and move on to the next and cycle them around.

    Writing an email is hard enough let alone to do the sort of writing I used to do. I struggle to find the words I need, and that’s why I’ve turned to mass amounts of swearing when I talk because it’s easier. If I’m out and not swearing, there’s often big gaps where I’m trying to find a word and I get so frustrated. I can’t think straight a lot of the time and have to make the most of the times where I can to do something useful, like blogs and emails. And my memory is atrocious.

    And I’ve already forgotten why I’m rambling with all of this 😂 Great review as always. It’s good to see a book on this as chronic stress can cause cognitive impairment as well as have an emotional and physical impact. I’ve also only ever really seen brain fog used in the realm of health conditions like fibro or MS etc, rather than for stress. x

    1. I’ve also only seen brain fog talked about in the context of chronic illness.

      I have no idea how I managed to do as much as I did even just a couple of years ago. Now even responding to blog comments tends to involve a lot of staring blankly at the computer screen trying to come up with coherent thoughts.

      1. Oof, I hear you. I mostly comment short phrases, for what feels like a very long time. Or just emojis. If I want to type something longer, I copy what stuff I’m responding to because I need to keep rechecking it.

          1. You inspired me to try to find descriptions and examples for my kind of brain fog. I’ve not been able to explain a lot of the cognitive impairment I experience to relevant people, and it drives me nuts lol. Especially because I need to put together a letter listing my struggles, so that hopefully I don’t keep triggering myself or forgetting my impairments the next time I’m assessed for medical financial aid.

            1. Same, so I liberally borrow other people’s words haha. I used to be so good at doing cognitive stuff and creative writing in my adolescence long long ago

  4. Interesting that you mention the vagueness of the term “brain fog”, because I was just quite recently thinking about it and wondering about how it really seems to encompass quite a few different things. Brain fog has never been something that would be a huge or frequent problem for me, and I don’t think I’ve ever experienced it as a result of stress, but still I know what other types of brain fog feel like, , and I’d say that the depressive sluggish brain is something vastly different from, for example Zombie day (after no sleep) spacey mind state, and both of these feel different yet to how your brain feels after certain medications like sleeping pills or substances like alcohol, or low BP brain fog, or fuzziness that I get for some time after sleep paralysis, or slimy brain lag from hypothyroidism that I used to get as a teenager occasionally. But then it all feels so subjective, like, I guess there’s no way of objective measuring of brain fog, so perhaps brain fog is a similar catch-all term as pain. There are all kinds of pains but we just call all of them pain, even if they have barely anything to do with each other, even the emotional sensation is called pain. We can use all kinds of descriptive adjectives along with it that feel right for us but another person might use totally different ones and completely not relate to ours even if they have pain caused by the same thing.

      1. I am sort of getting better day by day. But life is hard with mental illness. My friend who I’ve known for 10 years is beginning to struggle with mental illness. But I’m glad he managed to establish a business before and if he breaks down

  5. The medical world talks about NEUROFATIGUE

    as seen in many brain injuries [eg: closed head injury and hypoxia].

    And pianist David Helfgott used to talk about “the fog in his head”

    which resulted from depression and “an acute anxiety neurosis” [to use the words of the late 1960s and early 1970s when he was first under psychiatric care].

    There have been very good studies like this 2013 one about “Neurofatigue and fatigability in neurological conditions”.

    Another phenomenon is also known as CENTRAL NERVOUS SYSTEM FATIGUE.

    This seems to be associated with inflammation. Neuroinflammation itself is a source and target of chronic stress.

    As usual: information and provocation; not advice.

    A good mate post-stroke experienced it. It has also been associated with cerebral palsy.

    And after studying, there is something from the National Autistic Society from 2 years ago about “autistic fatigue”.

    [seems it is the thing you want to avoid and be very aware of before burnout].

    My friends in neuropsychological and neurological rehabilitation know something about this.

    It seemed that neurofatigue lived in the brain and central nervous system fatigue lived in the CNS.

    Also there may be a structural/functional/organic factor depending on how it was caused and how it is maintained.

    How I deal with it:

    Self-compassion and comparison with how I was 6 months ago.

    I last had an overwhelm in August 2022. It was when link-ups looked strange and I could not move forward.

    SH; Liz; Eirlys: you had some good ideas based in and on your experiences.

  6. I don’t know what brain fog is but my mind goes blank during conversations sometimes, and I have a problem focusing in social situations. It gets overwhelming pretty quickly. I don’t know if it’s from social anxiety or something else.

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  8. With modern life’s fast-paced and demanding nature, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and suffer from fatigue, leading to difficulty in concentration, memory, and decision-making. Thanks for posting this article; It’s really helpful. However, I also think that a stress level test can help a lot in finding out how stressed you are and can help you understand and tackle it more.

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