Keeping cognitive symptoms at bay


  Quality of life • Article

5 tips to avoid Cog Fog

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, and the only thing what I was able to say was something in English. 

My brain felt disconnected. I struggled to understand what was happening. It stressed me out. I went to bed, I thought perhaps if I went to sleep for a little while my speech would improve after a good rest. It felt like a nightmare to know I can talk but not be able to get my words out right. 

Later, as my brain “re-connected” 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. 

I’ve discovered some strategies for dealing with those difficult situations when they arise. 

My best 5 tips to avoid Cog Fog are:

  1. Rest. If possible, find a quiet place to rest. Take power naps for 30 Minutes or an hour, turn your devices off and shut your eyes. In this busy work lives, it’s sometimes 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 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 sleeping problems. And every bad night is one night for potential cog 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 you are cool enough. Also, make sure to not use your electronic devices too close to your bedtime. And if that doesn’t work, 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 dietician to create a plan.
  5. Avoid stress and say no. Challenging? Yes. But important. You don’t have to do everything. Somethings can be done later or put off entirely. Listen to your body. Avoid stress and this will improve your sense of well-being. Some things on the to-do list can be delegated too. I know this is hard especially when you want to be independent, but you should make sure you get enough support. To delegate means to relieve your brain and take good care of it. The only thing you must do is to trust other people and let them do the things you cannot always manage yourself on a bad day. 

Cog 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 to find what works for you. It’s not always easy. But feasible if you want to improve your life with MS. Helping your brain makes it easier to help yourself. To live consciously and seek to improve your own quality of life is what matters! Right? 

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