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How do I say this? I CAN’T THINK STRAIGHT THIS WEEK. Ok, I guess I came up with those words pretty easy but if I want to speak past a 6th-grade grammar level I need a thesaurus.
Many suffering with chronic illness find themselves plagued by a condition known as brain fog.
You may have also heard of fibro fog in the fibromyalgia community. Same thing! At it’s very worst it can cause a disorienting effect that can leave a person not knowing where they are or where they were headed for 30-90 seconds or more. I haven’t experienced it to that extreme, yet.
My main problems are losing my train of thought mid-sentence, comprehending what I’m reading, and having trouble following conversations. Sometimes it can feel like a bunch of static in my head and I wish I could just tune in to whatever channel needs to be my focus for that moment.
There are a few little tricks I keep up my sleeves to help clear brain fog. I thought I’d share them with you.
- Don’t trust your brain. Even though you think of yourself as normally an intelligent person who’s really focused; just face it. For certain periods of time, possibly every day for some, you won’t be able to trust that little gray matter in your skull. Don’t stress about it or feel less of a person – just work with it. Determine that you’ll change how you do certain things so you can manage at your very best!
- Don’t panic – you’re not losing your mind. Some individuals get really nervous that they could be developing Alzheimer’s. The two aren’t related and the one doesn’t turn into the other. For example, with brain fog I might forget what you just told me but with Alzheimer’s I may forget who you are.
- Make lists! And use them! Use a planner too! I’m getting better at this all the time. For example, I developed a grocery list that is divided into sections according to the aisles in my local grocery store. This really helps me stay on track and focused. I don’t have to keep scanning through a list in the midst of store noise to be sure I grabbed it all; I just start at aisle one and I’m all set.
- Sleep. The problems with brain fog are multiplied when you’re tired and wore out. I understand insomnia can come with the territory of chronic illness too. Try your best to do what you can to unwind at night and talk to your dr to see what can be done to help. Insomnia is horrible and can highlight fatigue, fog, and pain – among other problems!
- Talk to your doctor about possibly adding some supplements to your mix. I discovered a supplement called ribose from reading a book by Dr. Teitelbaum called Fatigued to Fantastic. D-Ribose is a simple, natural sugar that your body uses in the energy molecules. It also helps process other nutrients as well, such as the B vitamins. As part of my treatment my doctor has me taking B vitamins 3x’s a day; mainly for the fatigue. However, I have noticed a drastic difference with my brain fog on days I don’t take them.
- Get oxygen moving in your blood! Exercise increases the flow of oxygen and blood to the brain and helps with the fog. I understand there are days we can barely shower, let alone get out for a walk. For those days, I’ve noticed sitting on my porch, or even in the house in a quiet room for a bit, and breathing deeply helps calm down my mind when it’s racing or foggy and it allows me to focus better.
- Cut back on the sensory overload. I grew up in a house where the tv was on almost constantly. Sad to say it’s on way too much in my own home. To top it off I have my cell phone, my kindle, my computer, my husband, my kids and my grandson all contributing to the amount of input my brain is trying to process at any given moment. On days I’m at my foggiest I find taking some time away from all the media noise helps! I can’t turn off the people in the home, I’ve tried ;). But I can limit those other things!
- Uni Task. I don’t know who decided multi-tasking was the benchmark for productive women but they certainly didn’t have a chronic illness or brain fog. I’m not militant about this. Yes, I’ll do other things while I have a load of laundry in the washer but trying to do too much just adds to the already confused state of our minds. Focus on one thing at a time and don’t allow yourself to be distracted by trying to do multiple things at once.
- Avoid caffeine. Trust me, a Coke is usually the first thing I want to grab when I need to focus but it only means you’re going to crash later on. Also, because it’s a stimulant it can make all those jumbled thoughts floating around in there move faster-making things worse!
What have I missed? I’d love to hear your ideas and tips for getting through your brain fog days! Leave a comment below!