How do you cope with cognitive impairment? Share your best strategies.
One of the worst symptoms for functionality for sure is the cognitive issues. I so not find this amusing at all when it comes to work. I can feel my brain slowing down to pudding brain and my communication skills stutter and falter. I have impaired memory and concentration. You can actually read some research on that here. What bothers me I suppose is that I used to be an articulate person and now I fumble with my words. If the word even comes out right in the first place.
But I deal with fibro fog as well and I have before I even dealt with the cognitive issues due to migraines, so I have learned a thing or two about dealing with the brain drain. And I have adapted in many ways in order to function, mostly at work. But also during my academic studies back in the day, since I did have issues with this for my Bachelors and Masters… so I did have to adapt to that as well with FM and high episodic migraines. Here is what I wrote about migraines in University tips.
Certainly in a work environment you want to establish easy accessible information points. What I mean by that is a) bookmark important sites b) have a notebook of quick info you may need for immediate use and have c) backup binders of organized information you may need to draw on. Just in case, in a brain foggy moment you have information at your fingertips. Just a matter of being ultra organized and having some info that you wouldn’t normally have on hand, really. I also Love checklists. Just to ensure I miss nothing in the work that I am doing. I always confirm with the customer what they need, due to communication issues this confirmation ensures I have the proper information. I double check every entry to ensure I do not make an error. I am methodical. And always stay on point.
- Exercise: It indeed it helps boost our mental clarity. Even just a 20 min walk. In fact if you are working and you find your concentration is shot try getting up and taking a short walk around, sometimes the act of changing activities to motion and then getting back at it can stimulate the brain.
- Eat regularly: Do not skip meals. In fact, have regular snacks between meals. Snacks really help maintain your energy and you will find it helps with mental fatigue.
- Change activities or tasks: Sometimes the act of changing what you are doing, shifting the brain from one activity to another can help clear your mind. Then go back to your task and you may find your mind more focused.
- Get sleep: This may be difficult if you have insomnia or pain or both, but good quality sleep also helps with combating mental fatigue.
- Try boosting your B12. Low B12 can affect your concentration levels.
- Reduce stress: Stress also can be a cause of increasing our brain fog so reducing it is beneficial. One way to help reduce it is with such things as deep breathing exercises and meditation. Even if it is just some short deep breathing exercises during the day to calm yourself down.
- Routine is our friend: Established routines help reduce our stress by taking away any stress associated with being flustered or in a rush. It helps maintain balance in the body. It is also beneficial to make lists and reminders to help us remember things, as again this takes stress off of us when we might have issues remembering non-routine events and appointments.
- Avoid multitasking- It has been established in studies that the brain actually works better when we focus on one thing… I suspect a lot better for those of us with chronic illness and issues with brain fog. So avoid this inclination of multitask.
- Remember pacing: take breaks as needed as we can overextend ourselves and small breaks can be greatly beneficial
- Do a medication check: There are medications that can cause mental fatigue and if it is an issue that is of concern see if it is a side effect you are dealing with and ask your doctor about it.
- Try Rhodiola: This supplement is for fatigue but in people who have fatigue due to chronic illness it is also beneficial for cognitive fatigue. Or brain fog. It certainly helps me.
There still will be times, mostly will high pain when it hits immediately, you will have a great deal of trouble communicating. Finding your train of thought. Sort of searching for things to say. Not to mention you may get aphasia and have troubles finding and using words. I feel horrible when this happens. No one likes to feel stupid and it certainly makes you feel that way. We can manage it best we can, but there are times when in the land of migraine it is pretty foggy out.