Regain Your Brain—Improve Mood and Cognitive Functioning; How to Recover After Long COVID or Poor Lifestyle Choices

If you’re feeling a bit sluggish, or a bit down, that’s not surprising if it’s in the middle of winter, you’ve had a period of bad sleep, or lots of stress. But if you have constant brain fog, are feeling incredibly down, can’t seem to remember things you used to have no problems memorizing, or you’re just feeling “slow” for a longer period of time, there might be more to it than winter blues, temporary stress, or sleeping issues.

Two of the most common reasons for feeling like your brain has gone on vacation (and forgotten to bring you along)? Long COVID and poor lifestyle choices. Often the two work in tandem, so it’s important to look at both.

Thankfully, there are ways and means to “regain our brain.”   

First, let’s look at what other causes there are for cognitive impairment so that you can rule out those, then we will deep dive into how COVID and lifestyle choices can “derail” our brain and how to fix it!

Common Causes of Brain Fog, Mood Imbalances, and Impaired Cognitive Functioning

Before you try to fix your brain, you need to understand what’s wrong.

If your mood swings are caused by lack of sleep, the cure is sleep (possibly in tandem with things that will help you sleep better, such as exercise, a good sleep routine, and certain herbal supplements), while if it’s caused by eating the wrong foods, the cure is a change of diet.

In other words, it’s hard to fix the problem unless you know what’s causing it. While improving your lifestyle helps your brain in general, you still need to get to the root cause of what’s wrong to ensure the problem is dealt with appropriately.

There are plenty of things that can cause mild impaired cognitive functioning (MIC)—from natural aging, to inflammation, hormone disruption, and ADHD.

Common causes of poor cognitive functioning include:

  • Aging
  • Long COVID
  • Stress
  • Low grade chronic inflammation (often caused by aging, stress,
    or poor lifestyle choices)
  • or poor lifestyle choices)
  • ADHD
  • Depression
  • Hormonal imbalances
  • Disease, such as Alzheimer’s and diabetes
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Poor lifestyle choices (poor diet, lack of exercise, not enough time spent outdoors, etc.)
  • High blood pressure and/or cholesterol
  • Brain injuries, strokes, or blood clots in the brain
  • Vitamin deficiencies
  • Intolerance to certain foods
  • Exposure to toxins
  • Infections (such as a UTI that’s not been treated)

Note that this above list is not exhaustive and you should always consult a doctor if you suspect you have MIC.

The different causes for poor cognitive functioning require different approaches to address the issue. That’s why to treat the underlying problem, you need to get the correct diagnosis.

In this article, we are looking at why poor lifestyle choices and long COVID can cause lingering symptoms of cognitive impairment and/or mood imbalances and how to overcome them. The reason we look at both is because they tend to go hand in hand—the better lifestyle choices you make, the easier it is to recover from long COVID.

If you want to find out more about how to address memory issues and other symptoms caused by aging this article may also be interesting as we address inflammation. Inflammation is one of the natural effects of aging that may affect our brain and thus cognitive functioning and mood. However, we look at aging and its effect on the body in more detail in this article and recommend you read this, too.

Long COVID and Its Effect on the Brain

Long COVID, also known as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection (PASC), refers to a condition where individuals experience lingering symptoms for weeks or months after the acute phase of COVID-19 has passed.

This is like losing the lottery twice—first you get COVID and once you draw a breath of relief the worst is over, you have to deal with lingering symptoms!

While COVID-19 primarily affects the respiratory system, it can also impact various organs and systems in the body, including the brain. (1)

Some common neurological symptoms associated with long COVID include:


The exact causes of these symptoms are still being researched, but several theories have been proposed (2) (3):

1.Brain Fog: Many individuals report experiencing cognitive difficulties, often described as “brain fog.” This can manifest as difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and slowed thinking.

1.Direct Viral Effects: SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, may directly infect brain cells and cause inflammation, leading to neurological symptoms.

2.Cognitive Impairment: Long COVID may lead to cognitive impairment, affecting reasoning, problem-solving, and other higher-order cognitive functions.

2.Neuroinflammation: The immune response triggered by the virus can lead to inflammation in the brain, which may contribute to cognitive dysfunction.

3.Memory Issues: Some individuals experience memory problems, including difficulty remembering recent events or information.

3.Vascular Damage: COVID-19 can damage blood vessels throughout the body, including those in the brain, which may affect cognitive function.

4.Headaches: Persistent headaches are common in long COVID patients, which can further impair cognitive function. 4.Hypoxia: Severe cases of COVID-19 can lead to decreased oxygen levels in the blood, which may damage brain cells and impair cognitive function.

5.Psychological Factors: The stress, anxiety, and depression associated with COVID-19 infection and its consequences can also contribute to cognitive symptoms.

Managing and improving cognitive symptoms in long COVID patients often requires a multi-faceted approach:

1. Medical Management:

Addressing any underlying medical conditions, such as inflammation or vascular damage, may help alleviate neurological symptoms. This may involve medications such as anti-inflammatory drugs or anticoagulants.

2. Rehabilitation Therapy:

Cognitive rehabilitation therapy, including cognitive training exercises and strategies, may help improve cognitive function and manage symptoms like brain fog and memory issues.

3. Physical Exercise:

Regular physical activity has been shown to have cognitive benefits, including improved memory and attention. Exercise can also help reduce inflammation and improve mood.

4. Nutrition and Hydration:

A healthy diet rich in antioxidants, omega-3 fatty acids, and other nutrients may support brain health and cognitive function. Staying hydrated is also important for overall brain function.

5. Supplements:

In addition to eating well, taking supplements that address the various different issues caused by long COVID can help speed up the recovery process. In other words, supplements that improve vascular health, brain functioning, mood, your immune system, and cell health while lowering inflammation.

6. Sleep Management:

Getting adequate sleep is essential for cognitive function and overall health. Practicing good sleep hygiene and addressing sleep disturbances can help improve cognitive symptoms.

7. Stress Management:

Techniques such as mindfulness meditation, relaxation exercises, and stress reduction strategies can help mitigate the impact of psychological factors on cognitive function.

8. Social Support:

Engaging with supportive social networks and seeking professional mental health support when needed can also aid in managing cognitive symptoms associated with long COVID. Social support can further improve mood and overall happiness.

The first thing you need to do is always get medical evaluation and support. From there, you can take charge of the things you can do, such as engage in activities that stimulate your cognitive functioning, improve your lifestyle (more about that below), and take supplements that might help your body and brain recover. Now, let’s look at the lifestyle choice that might derail…or supercharge your brain!

Lifestyle Choices That Can Contribute to Poor Cognitive Functioning (Causing Brain Fog, Difficulties Focusing, etc.)

Having a few drinks too many on the weekend, getting poor sleep throughout the week, skipping workouts, and eating more hamburgers than salads might be okay in our twenties, but by the time we reach fifty (sometimes even thirty!) our bodies don’t cope. Our lifestyle needs to change if we want our brain to work optimally again—and there are several lifestyle factors that need to be taken into consideration.

This becomes even more apparent if we’re hit by something like long COVID that further puts stress on our body and brain.

The below can all lead to issues with mood and cognitive impairment (4) (5) (6) (7) (8) (9) (10) (11):

1. Sedentary Lifestyle:

Lack of physical activity can lead to poor blood circulation, reduced oxygen flow to the brain, and decreased production of neurotransmitters that are essential for cognitive function.

2. Unhealthy Diet:

Diets high in processed foods, sugar, and saturated fats and low in fruits, vegetables, and omega-3 fatty acids can lead to inflammation, oxidative stress, and impaired brain function.

3. Chronic Stress:

Prolonged exposure to stress can lead to elevated levels of cortisol, a hormone that can damage brain cells and impair cognitive function over time.

4. Sleep Deprivation:

Inadequate sleep can interfere with memory consolidation, cognitive processing, and overall brain function. Chronic sleep deprivation has been linked to cognitive decline and increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases.

5. Excessive Alcohol Consumption:

Heavy alcohol consumption can lead to cognitive impairment, memory problems, and brain shrinkage. Chronic alcohol abuse can also increase the risk of developing conditions like dementia.

6. Smoking:

Smoking cigarettes can damage blood vessels, reduce oxygen supply to the brain, and increase the risk of stroke, all of which can contribute to cognitive decline.

7. Lack of Mental Stimulation:

Engaging in intellectually stimulating activities, such as reading, puzzles, and learning new skills, is important for maintaining cognitive function. A lack of mental stimulation can lead to cognitive decline over time.

8. Social Isolation:

Social isolation and loneliness have been associated with cognitive decline and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. Social interaction and engagement are important for maintaining cognitive health.

9. Head Trauma

Traumatic brain injuries, such as concussions, can cause long-term cognitive impairment and increase the risk of developing conditions like dementia later in life. (This is perhaps not technically lifestyle related, but if you engage in sports that often cause head trauma, you might want to rethink it.)

10. Poor Management of Chronic Health Conditions

Chronic health conditions like diabetes, hypertension, and obesity can negatively impact cognitive function if not properly managed. These conditions can lead to inflammation, vascular damage, and other physiological changes that affect brain health.

All of the above can also lead to low grade inflammation in the body (and/or brain), which, in turn, can lead to cognitive impairment, low mood, and various diseases (diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cancer, etc.) and cause premature aging. Aging itself also triggers inflammation, which can lead to cognitive decline. You can read more about slowing the aging process here. 

Lifestyle Choices That Can Help Improve Cognitive Functioning and Mood

If you want to heal after long COVID or simply want to up your brain game in general, lifestyle is a key thing to consider.

The below lifestyle changes all play a role in keeping your brain healthy and happy: (24) (25) (26) (27) (x) (y) (z) (å)

1. Active Lifestyle:

Engaging in cardio for twenty minutes per day, or longer sessions at least three times per week. Partaking in activities such as table tennis, dancing, and juggling, can further improve coordination and mental cognition.

2. Healthy Diet:

Diets high in fruits, vegetables, healthy proteins, whole grains, and omega-3 fatty acids can help decrease inflammation and improve brain functioning. Anti-inflammatory herbs and spices might further help combat inflammation.

3. Supplements:

There are many supplements that can help improve brain functioning and mood (see below).

4. Mindfulness:

Mindfulness practices can help lower the stress hormone cortisol and improve focus.

5. Good Sleep Habits:

Enough sleep on regular hours help prevent inflammation, and improve cognitive functioning.

6. Mental Stimulation:

Partaking in activities that help improve our cognitive functioning is beneficial for brain health.

7. Leading an Active Social Life:

An active social life appears to decrease stress, improve happiness, and lead to longevity. Doing something for others by engaging in volunteer/charity work seems to also play a part in this.

8. Spending Time in Nature:

Research has shown that spending time in nature improves your immune system, lowers stress, and improves cognitive functioning.

You will find that good lifestyle choices play a huge part in your mental and physical wellbeing. Choosing a healthy and happy lifestyle is one of the most powerful things you can do to keep your brain in tip top shape. Leading a healthy and happy (don’t forget the latter!) lifestyle can probably be considered the cornerstone of wellbeing.

Supplements for a “Brain Boost”

Both a poor lifestyle and long COVID can cause inflammation. Long COVID can, furthermore, cause problems with your vascular system, so it can do with a boost. In addition, there are herbs that may help with focus and energy.

As always, there is no one herb or supplement that does it all—which is why the multipathway approach is, as always, crucial. You have to look at the combined causes for the issue, as well as the things that, when combined, will offer a cure, or at least alleviation of symptoms.

For general “brain wellbeing,” taking probiotics and including some fermented foods in your diet is important as there is a strong correlation between your brain and gut health. Lately, there’s been a lot of research surrounding the link between depression and gut health. (12) (13) (14) (15) (16) (17)

Furthermore, probiotics help fight inflammation, which can help assist with brain fog caused by low grade inflammation.  (18)

Taking a multivitamin a couple of times per week, especially one that includes all the B vitamins, zinc, vitamin D, folate, and magnesium can be good to ensure you get all the vitamins and minerals needed for your brain to function optimally.

In addition, omega-3 supplements have shown incredible results in numerous research studies when it comes to brain health/functioning. Plus, it might help reduce inflammation across the board (body and brain).  (19) (20) (21) (22)

Consuming three to four small cups of coffee per day might also help with the release of neurotransmitters that affect happiness. If you don’t like coffee, you might want to try caffeine supplements (though they don’t have exactly the same effect).

There are supplements that might increase the availability of neurotransmitters such as dopamine and serotonin (the “happy chemicals”), as well as supplements that might have a calming effect (the latter is often also available as teas in lower doses). Some of these supplements also have other effects that have an impact on mood and cognitive functioning. (23) (24) (25) (26) (27) (28) (29)

These supplements include:

*(interacts with a number of medications and if you are using any medication you should consult with a doctor before using it, it cannot be combined with antidepressants—it can be fatal)

Some of the above, like the calming herbs, can often be found combined in supplements for calm and sleep.

Beware that no matter how many supplements you take, unless you’re also willing to lead a decently healthy lifestyle, they won’t be as effective as they otherwise would.

As you can tell, different supplements also have different effects. That’s why we work with a multipathway approach—combating the sum total of the things caused by a poor lifestyle and long COVID.

The above supplements can help fight inflammation and/or improve mood and/or improve brain functioning/cognitive health. If you suffer from long COVID you also have to look at things like vascular health in the brain. That’s why we’ve developed a supplement that specifically looks at all the different pathways to improve cognitive functioning and mood that have been affected by lifestyle choices and/or long COVID.

Please note that it’s always best to consult a medical doctor that is also an herbalist before you take any supplements. Some of the above supplements come with side effects and can further have different side effects when combined. And if you take any form of medication, you always have to check that the supplements won’t interact with the medication.

A Supplement to Assist with Brain Functioning After Long COVID and/or to Get a Brain Boost

In addition to those more “overarching” supplements, we have focused on finding a specific solution for people suffering from brain fog, mild cognitive impairment, or low mood due to long COVID or lifestyle factors. This takes into account all the different pathways of your system that might be affected—the vascular system, inflammation, neurotransmitter imbalance, and issues with anxiety and stress.

Grassleaf Sweetflag Leaf:

  1. Hyperactivity: Might improve acetylcholine levels, which in turn appears to lower hyperactivity. (30) (31

  2. Neurological Disorders and Impaired Cognitive Functioning: Sweetflag has been traditionally used to support cognitive function and memory and recent studies back this up. (32) (33) (34

  3. Mood: Sweetflag may have calming effects and help reduce anxiety. (35)

Rosemary Leaf:

  1. Cognitive Functioning: Rosemary has been studied for its potential to improve cognitive function and memory. (52)
  2. Mood: Rosemary may have mood-enhancing effects and help reduce anxiety. (53)
Polygonatum Rhizome / Polygala Tenuifolia:
  1. Brain Functioning: Polygonatum may have neuroprotective effects and support cognitive function, especially in relation to Alzheimer’s disease and can potentially reduce brain damage during ischemia. (36) (37) (38
  2. Immune System: Some studies suggest that Polygonatum has immunomodulatory properties.

Sage Leaf:

  1. Cognitive Functioning: Sage has been traditionally used to support cognitive function and memory. (54) (55) (56
  2. Mood: Sage may have mood-stabilizing effects and help reduce anxiety and depression. (57
White Peony Root:
  1. Inflammation: White peony root contains compounds with anti-inflammatory properties, which may help reduce inflammation in the body. (39
  2. Mood: White peony root has been traditionally used to alleviate mood-related disorders and scientific research backs this up. (40
  3. Cognitive Dysfunction: Research shows it can ameliorate cognitive dysfunction in diabetic rats. (41

Sichuan Pepper Fruit and Seed:

  1. Brain Functioning: Sichuan pepper may modulate neurotransmission systems and cerebral blood flow, potentially improving cognitive function and mood.
  2. Inflammation: Compounds in Sichuan pepper may possess anti-inflammatory properties, helping to reduce inflammation in the body.
Asian Ginseng Root:
  1. Cognitive Functioning: Ginseng has been studied for its potential to improve cognitive function and memory with good results. (42
  2. Inflammation: Gingsent shows promise in lowering inflammation. (43)
  3. Immune System: Ginseng may have immunomodulatory effects and support immune function. (44)
  4. Tiredness: Ginseng might help fight fatigue, which can be beneficial if you suffer from long COVID.

Chinese Salvia Root:

  1. Cognitive Functioning: Chinese Salvia has been traditionally used to support cognitive function and memory.
  2. Mood: Chinese Salvia may have mood-regulating effects and help reduce anxiety and depression.
Bai-Zhu Atractylode Root:
  1. Gut Health: Atractylodes contain compounds that may support digestive health and promote gut motility.
  2. Immune System: Some studies suggest that Atractylodes have immunomodulatory properties.
Tienqi Ginseng Root:
  1. Immune System: Ginseng is known for its immunomodulatory effects, supporting immune function and enhancing resistance to infections.
  2. Brain Functioning: Tienqi Ginseng has been studied for its potential to improve cognitive function and memory.
Gastrodia Rhizome:
  1. Brain Functioning: Gastrodia has been traditionally used to support cognitive function and memory. (45
  2. Mood: Gastrodia may have calming effects and help reduce anxiety. (46
Dong Quai Root:
  1. Cognitive Functioning: Dong Quai may improve synaptic and neuronal structure, enhancing cognitive function and memory. (58) (59
  2. Ischemic Stroke: Shows promise in treatment in relation to cognitive functioning after an ischemic stroke. (60
  3. Mood: Dong Quai may have mood-stabilizing effects and help reduce anxiety and depression. (61)
Green Tea Leaf:
  1. Inflammation: Green tea contains catechins, which have anti-inflammatory properties and may help reduce inflammation in the body. (47)
  2. Brain Functioning: Green tea has been studied for its potential neuroprotective effects and ability to support cognitive function. (48)
Schisandra Fruit and Seed:
  1. Cognitive Functioning: Schisandra has been traditionally used to support cognitive function and memory. This may be linked to gut health and its antiinflammatory properties. (62)
  2. Mood: Schisandra may have mood-enhancing effects and help reduce anxiety and depression. (63)
Polygala Root (Solomon’s Seal):
  1. Cognitive Functioning: Polygala has been traditionally used to support cognitive function and memory and appear to have neuroprotective properties. (49
  2. Mood: Polygala may have mood-stabilizing effects and help alleviate anxiety and depression.
Chinese Licorice Root:
  1. Immune System: Licorice root has been shown to possess immunomodulatory properties, supporting immune function. (64
  2. Inflammation: Compounds in licorice root may help reduce inflammation in the body, contributing to overall health and well-being. (65)  (66)

Poria (Poria cocos) Root:
  1. Gut Health: Poria contains polysaccharides that may support digestive health and promote gut microbiota balance. (50
  2. Immune System: Some studies suggest that Poria has immunomodulatory properties. (51


    Note that if you suffer from hypertension you should not consume licorice root. Always consult a doctor before taking supplements, especially if you have any medical conditions, or are taking medication. Certain herbs, like ginseng, interact with some medications.


    The first thing to do if you suffer from mental sluggishness or low mood is to determine the cause—unless you know it’s lifestyle related, you need a medical diagnosis. 

    Secondly, the best way to improve your mental health and cognitive functioning at large is to ensure you lead a healthy and happy lifestyle. 

    If you are suffering from the consequences of a lifestyle that has perhaps not been ideal, long COVID, aging, or brain imbalances (such as naturally lower amounts of certain neurotransmitters, for example) supplements can also give a much needed “brain boost.” Together with a healthy lifestyle, it can help your body find equilibrium. 

    As opposed to trying out a number of different supplements, we recommend choosing one or two supplements that use a multipathway approach to combat the underlying issue. There are several biological processes affected by inflammation, poor vascular health, and so forth and a good supplement should tackle all of these (or at least enough to make a potent difference). 

    Our Yellow Blend is particularly potent if you’ve been leading a taxing lifestyle, or are suffering from long COVID. If you need a further boost, the Uplift Bundle is a great pick. 

    Whatever you do, be sure to only buy supplements from reputable companies.

    Reclaim your cognitive health with our expert insights on improving mood and brain function post-COVID. Learn effective, natural strategies to restore mental clarity and emotional balance. Don’t let past challenges hold you back—empower your brain and enhance your quality of life today!
    Boost Your Brain Health Now!






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