Friday, July 12, 2013

Functioning with Brain Fog -- Part III

From Flickr by David Schulman

1) On foggy days, we have to pay more attention to the things that we can do on a good day without thinking.  That's tough because our brains feel tired, and we don't want to concentrate.  It's good to remember that a little extra focus up front can save us the brain tiring effort of going back and fixing something.
2) Likewise, we can't multitask as well, either. Go slowly.  Stay calm.  Tackle things in small bits. This can be hard to do if a circumstance calls for complex multitasking.  If you work in a busy, fast-paced workplace, for example, or if you have a busy family, you might find yourself being called to think about several things at once. Others may become impatient with your need to slow things down in order to cope with them. Don't assume that others can read your mind and that they will instinctively know that you need some breathing from to process things. Ask politely if you can have a moment to think things through or to finish one task before going on to the next.   
3) Phone calls, emails, and texts will wait. Unless its an emergency or a very special message, don't feel that you have to answer every single one the moment it comes in. Focus on what needs to be done most in the moment and return messages later, when you have the time and energy to give those messages your full concentration.   
4) Store medicines in containers that have a compartment marked for each day.  Even if you take only a thyroid pill and a vitamin, it will eliminate those, "Did I take my thyroid med today?" moments.  It will also keep you from overdosing or under-dosing.  Since the timing of thyroid medication affects your thyroid levels, it's important to keep this straight.     
5) On foggy days, it's hard to make even small decisions. That's a good time to remember that many decisions in our daily life are a matter of choosing between two fairly good options.  Also, with many decisions, you can change later if you find that you've chosen the less satisfactory option.

To your health!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Functioning with Brain Fog Part II

Wanderer Above the Fog
Do we have to wander in the fog?  There are some practical things we can do to find our way:

1)  Here's one I learned from a web site about lupus:  Use your phone to take a photograph of your car in a parking space.  Make sure that you include some permanent landmark or a parking lot are identification sign.  You'll be able to find your car on even your foggiest days.  In fact, taking pictures with your cell phone camera can help you remember all kinds of things.
2)  Break your day down into small increments. You might even think in terms of only one hour or a half-hour. Pick one or two simple things you can accomplish, and do them.  If you can handle more, pick another. If not, do something restful until the next period. Don't fret about the big picture, but do what you can.
3)  If your brain fog worsens or hangs on for days on end, be tested to make sure that you are receiving enough thyroid replacement hormone.  Note:  In the days before thyroid hormone replacement was available, there were people who became comatose and died of the condition. A lack of thyroid hormone can dangerously impair mental functioning, though this is usually reversible when given the right medical attention. This is nothing to try to treat totally on your own, without medical help.
4)  Sometimes, light exercise is helpful.  Sometimes, rest is helpful.  Getting outside for a walk is always a good idea if you can manage it.
5)  Have a couple of healthy snacks and drink water throughout the day.  Plan how many snacks you will allow yourself, however, and don't graze all day in the hopes that food will give you energy and focus.
6)  Sticky notes, index cards, computer calendars, and cell phone alarms can all be great methods for giving yourself reminders of things.  Also, accept that you might not remember your schedule as easily as you once did. You will have to look at your calendar!  I say this to myself, because I love jotting things down in my calendar, but always (wrongly) think I can wing it without looking back at what I've written down.
7) Check your time and quality of sleep at night.  If you are having sleep problems, that will contribute to the feeling of daytime fog.
8)  Think positively; count your blessings.  Are you worried?  Depressed?  Brain fog often has physiological origins and is not necessarily an indication of emotional distress.  However, being preoccupied with anxiety or weighed down by depression can also cause brain fog.  Likewise, having brain fog can be a source of frustration, worry, and embarrassment in itself.  It can shake up your sense of who you are and what you can accomplish.  Doing what you can to stay faithful and positive can help.
9) When you feel well, organize your house to make things easier when you have brain fog.  For example, put essential, bare minimum, daily cosmetics in a cosmetic bag and stash it where you can grab it easily.  Group cleaning supplies together.  Have some in each bathroom.  Keep easy to prepare meals on hand or make extra food to freeze.
10)  Use brain fog days to accomplish some soothing craft project that doesn't require a lot of intricate thought.  Give yourself permission to spend an hour on a hobby that you might ordinarily think you are too busy to tackle, provided that it's not something that will frustrate you.

Be well!