5 tips to avoid brain fog


  Quality of Life • Article

It was a hot summer day some years ago. I was tired, exhausted, and had been in meetings all day; it was a stressful time. Someone came to me with a question in my native language (German). But I couldn’t answer it. I knew the words that I wanted to say in my head, but I was not able to “deliver” them. I started to talk, but the only thing I could say was something in English.

My brain felt disconnected. I struggled to understand what was happening. It stressed me out. I went to bed thinking that perhaps if I slept for a little while, my speech would improve. It felt like a nightmare to know what I wanted to say but not be able to get my words out right.

Later, as my brain “reconnected” with me again, I started to discuss what happened with the MS community. Because I knew I wasn’t alone, and I thought that others living with MS would have had a similar experience to me.

As it turns out, I was experiencing my first episode of brain fog (also known as “cog fog”). Since then, I've discovered some helpful strategies for managing this difficult MS symptom in my everyday life.

My 5 best tips for avoiding brain fog are:

  • 1.   Rest when you can.
    • Turn off your devices, shut your eyes, and take a power nap for 30 minutes. In our busy work lives, sometimes it's necessary to do nothing.
  • 2.   Structure your day and allow yourself regular breaks.
    • This is valuable advice I received from a friend with MS. Use your free time to do something for yourself. I know that’s challenging, but if you explain it to the people who care about you, they’ll understand. The more structured and regular your day is, the more relaxed you can be—and this downtime is a welcome rest for your mind and body.
  • 3.   Create healthy sleeping habits.
    • I know a lot of us have problems sleeping. And every bad night increases the likelihood that we'll have brain fog the following day. So, look at your sleeping routine: Is your bedroom the perfect place to fall asleep? Make sure it’s a dark room away from light, and that you are cool enough. Also, don't use your electronic devices too close to your bedtime. If you still aren't sleeping well, please go to your doctor and ask for advice—because good sleep is essential for healthy functioning.
  • 4.   Eat well!
    • Nutritious and healthy food is key. Let your brain nourish itself by eating cleaner. If you have any concerns about allergies or worries about what to eat, speak with your doctor and dietitian to create a plan.
  • 5.   Avoid stress and say no.
    • Challenging? Yes. But important. You don’t have to do everything. Some things can be done later or put off entirely. Listen to your body and say no when you need to. Avoiding stress will improve your sense of well-being.
    • Remember that some things on your to-do list can be delegated, too. I know this is hard—especially when you want to be independent—but it's important to get the support you need. Delegating relieves your brain and helps you take good care of it. It also means you have to trust other people and let them do the things you can't manage when you're having a bad day.

Brain fog is a tough thing to deal with. But we can do something to combat it. We can make sure that our brains and our bodies are rested.

Take your time and find what works for you.

It’s not always easy, but it is important if you want to improve your life with MS. Helping your brain work better makes it easier to help yourself. After all, living consciously and improving your quality of life is what matters, right?

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