Are You Living With Brain Fog? Read This

Living With Brain Fog (What it is + 7 Strategies to Help Manage It).

Have you ever walked into a room and suddenly forgotten why you came in?

Or perhaps you have been struck with a brilliant idea, only to forget it seconds later when you reach for your pad and pen?

We have all been there: A random memory lapse, impaired concentration or the feeling that your brain has been enveloped by a thick shroud of fog.

For most people this spaced-out feeling is usually temporary and resolves itself after a good night’s sleep, exercise or a boost in blood sugar levels.

But what happens when this isn’t just a ‘now-and-again’ type occurrence? What if the fuzzy-headedness happens with such regularity that it starts to impact your work, communication, relationships and overall well being?

I have been living with the effects of brain fog for the past 10 years.

The very real cognitive dysfunction that I, and indeed countless other people, experience is just one of many frustrating aspects that come with the chronic illness / chronic pain territory.

There is difficulty with concentration, finding words, holding conversations, feeling alert, remembering things, processing and responding to information in a clear and concise way.

Mental tasks that used to come so easily become frustratingly challenging as it’s hard to concentrate when you’re exhausted and in a lot of pain.

Help! I’m fed up with brain fog! How can I manage this?

Stress reduction and more sleep would undoubtedly help the situation, but these concepts generally fall into the ‘elusive bucket’ for people living with chronic illness and chronic pain.

Luckily there are other things you can do to help manage the symptoms. Here are my top 7 workarounds for living with brain fog:

1. Find the time of day where you are at your clearest. Then use it to get your most important shiz done.

This can be a hard one to predict, but most of us can narrow down a ‘best’ time of day, when pain is at its lowest and energy levels are at their highest.

2. If your memory is unreliable, do yourself a favour: Stop trying to rely on it!

The familiarity of simple routines and structure can dramatically reduce your experience of brain fog stress. Some things that can help include:

  • Systems for routine, everyday things can be a lifesaver. For example, always putting your keys in the same place or using a daily pill box dispenser to manage medication usage.
  • Write it down! Apps, Post-It (sticky) notes, calendars and notebooks (the prettier the better) are the tools of the trade.
  • Set alarm reminders on your smart device or enlist the help of friends/family to remind you.

3. Blow out the cobwebs and get some fresh air.

The more anxious I get about not remembering something, or being able to focus, the worse it gets.

Time to head outside for a little brain break!

4. Eat. Real. Food.

I could write for hours on these three little words.

The vital role that food plays in brain health (notwithstanding overall health) cannot be underestimated.

At a super-duper high level: Crowd out the soft drinks, processed foods and chemically-laden pre-packaged foods in favour of more fresh whole foods, with an emphasis on fruits, veggies, healthy fats, nuts, seeds and plenty of water for much-needed brain n’ body hydration.

5. Engage your brain by doing something new.

This is where the old ‘Use it or Lose it’ philosophy comes into play.

It’s not just our body that needs daily exercise; our little grey cells need it too! Engaging in new activity literally wakes up our brains, creating new neural connections and pathways.

6. Pace yourself.

Things can take two, three, even four times as long when battling brain fog. So in knowing that, it makes sense to allow extra time to complete work / go about our daily living, which will help minimise any associated stress or fatigue:

  • Break up larger tasks into a series of smaller tasks.
  • Focus on one thing at a time Eliminate the distractions and give your brain space to breathe and concentrate on the task at hand.
  • Postpone if you are REALLY off your game. Get some extra rest and catch up on the latest season of your favourite TV show.

7. Cut yourself some slack.

Five years ago I decided to study for my Certified Internal Auditor qualification. This was back when I was on a (legal) cocktail of pain medications. Today’s brain fog pales in comparison to that time in my life.

Never one to be deterred from a challenge, I went for it. Poured over my books; practiced online tests.

I needed a result of 75% to pass. I got 74%. Fail.

I was gutted. I mentally harangued myself for days.

I should have celebrated.

I should have celebrated the stellar job that I did to push through extreme medication/chronic pain/chronic fatigue brain fog.

I should have celebrated my ability to study for that exam, sit that exam, and walk away with a result of 74%.

My circumstances and environmental conditions had dramatically changed from years gone past. Yet I still had the same expectations of myself.

Moral of the story: Cut yourself some slack. You are doing the best you can.

Now it’s your turn! Are you living with brain fog? Any funny stories to share about your experiences? {Humour is healing, we’ve got to find the funny where we can!}

Like this article? Then share it!

All photos the property of Starbrite Warrior and Bree Hogan. Not to be reproduced without permission.

Starbrite’s Note: This post was originally published in July 2015 and has been completely revamped and updated for you!

8 Replies to “Are You Living With Brain Fog? Read This”

  1. I have nearly constant brain fog. I like your idea of number 5, to try something new. I am always reluctant to do so, as I fall into “comfort zone” syndrome, hehe. I need to go do something new though, to help alleviate some of the fog.

    1. Brain fog really sucks doesn’t it, Robert? Doing something new really does help wake up our little grey cells and gets them firing with excitement. Doesn’t have to be anything complicated or strenuous, just something that you think you will enjoy. Good luck!

    1. I’d love to know how you go with the tips and what works well for you, Jaime. I find it’s all a matter of trial and error. Eventually something will stick!

  2. So pleased to find Starbrite Warrior. I was formally diagnosed with the full-house of symptoms of Fibromyalgia in 2009, although it’s thought I probably had the condition for a decade or more before finally getting an answer. The brain-fog was one of the worst things to come to terms with. From being bright (both intelligence and personality wise), so much so that my boss heaped extra work on me almost daily, to sitting at my desk with a brain so foggy I no longer knew how to do the simplest of tasks. The stress of the fog and work resulted in my pain and fatigue levels going sky high. Eventually resulting in a complete nervous breakdown and taking medical retirement. It cost me friends, my independent income, self-worth and a deep deep depression. Some years on I’m still having psychotherapy and, thankfully, a collection of meds which after some trial and error suit me well. I have just started a Mindfulness & Psychology course run by my local mental health service. I’m very much looking forward to reading and learning more from Bree.

    1. Hi Shona, I’m so glad you stumbled across my site and we can connect, yay!

      You have certainly been put through the ringer with your Fibromyalgia and my heart goes out to you. You are one tough cookie to come through what you have experienced and to keep fighting for the good life.

      If positivity, possibility, a healthy dose of realism and a whole lotta humour is what you are looking for, then you have definitely come to the right place at Starbrite Warrior! I look forward to many more chats with you in the future.

      Bree xx

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *