Coping with brain fog: 9 strategies and techniques – Healthy Hearing

Posted: January 6, 2020 at 5:52 am

Contributed by Glenn SchweitzerJanuary 6, 20202020-01-06T00:00:00-06:002020-01-06T00:00:00-06:00

When you live with a vestibular disorder like Meniere's disease, sometimes its the lesser symptomsthe ones that are not always addressed directly, like brain fogthat can really make life difficult.

Even when you arent actively experiencing balance problems likevertigo or dizziness, brain fog can still completely disrupt your ability to be productive in your day to day life.

Simply defined, brain fog is a type of fluctuating cognitive impairment that affects many people suffering from vestibular disorders (and many other health conditions as well). When your vestibular (balance) system is compromised, your brain has to work much harder to maintain equilibrium, and that constant effort takes a toll on cognitive function.

The result is a clouding of consciousness and diminishment of mental energy that can impair concentration, executive function, decision making ability, memoryand word recall. Many sufferers find it difficult to remember names and specific things theyre supposed to do.

When my Menieres disease symptoms flare up and brain fog rears its ugly head, words get stuck on the tip of my tongue and I find myself forgetting why I walk into rooms.

If youre used to being a productive person, brain fog is a difficult symptom to deal with and can make it hard to stay focused on important tasks.

Its also an invisible symptom. You dont look sick, so your friends and family wont be able to see that you are suffering. It may be difficult for them to fully understand what youre going through. Its a big challenge for many vestibular patients.

Fortunately, there are coping strategies that can help you better manage brain fog, push through it on difficult days, or even mitigate it altogether.

Brain fog may seem to come and go at random, but its often triggered by some external factor in your environment, diet or lifestyle.

The problem is that its difficult to figure out the specific things that exacerbate your brain fog and other symptoms.

The good news is that you can start to identify some of your brain fog triggers by keeping track of various aspects of your lifestyle, diet, environment, and health in a journal. Its an important step and it can help you to find the patterns and connections that may not obvious in your daily life.

Once youve kept track for a little while, you can go back and compare the days when your brain fog and other symptoms were at their worst, looking for commonalities and patterns. Maybe you ate too much sodium on all of your worst days, or maybe it was something else in your diet. Maybe you didnt sleep enough the night before. It could even have to do with changes in the weather. For example, barometric pressure changes can trigger symptoms for some Menieres sufferers.

You can keep track of everything in an actual journal, but to make this easy for everyone, I created a free downloadable PDF journal template tool called the Menieres symptom trigger tool. It was designed for Menieres patients, but it can help other vestibular patients to find their triggers as well.

This tool enables sufferers to easily track daily symptoms, diet, sleep, supplements and medications, exercise, stress levels, meditation, weather (including barometric pressure)and more.

When dealing with brain fog, its important to build a strong foundation of health through careful lifestyle management.

Even if you arent actively experiencing debilitating symptoms as a result of your vestibular disorder, ignoring the basics like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and managing stress, can cause brain fog to creep in more and more often.

I truly believe this sort of lifestyle management is important for all vestibular patients across the board, but its critical when it comes to managing brain fog.

Try to improve your health as much as possibleboth mentally and physicallyso you have the energy necessary to be productive.

Even if you arent actively experiencing debilitating symptoms as a result of your vestibular disorder, ignoring the basics like getting enough sleep, eating well, exercising regularly, and managing stress, can cause brain fog to creep in more and more often.

When you have a vestibular disorder and you also arent sleeping well, exercising regularly, eating healthy foods, or effectively managing stress, most of the limited energy you do have will be utilized elsewhere to deal with the consequences of your unhealthy lifestyle.

The healthier you are overall, despite your vestibular symptoms, the better you will be able to manage brain fog.

If you are struggling to be productive in the face of brain fog, sometimes the best thing you can do is to stop working and go for a walk.

Its easy to feel overwhelmed when you have a lot of work to finish but are not mentally feeling up to the task. And often times, trying to push through it can make you feel worse.

So the next time you are feeling frustrated by brain fog, trytaking a walk.

Theres something about walking that both calms and stimulates the mind. I find it works incredibly well to reduce brain fog, enough so that Im usually able to finish whatever project Im working on when I return to my desk.

Walking is also all you need for your brain to start releasing endorphins, which can reduce stress and make you feel good. If youve ever heard someone refer to a runners high,theyre talking about endorphins.

When you are feeling brain fogged, the endorphins released during a long walk might just help youfeel a bit better.

When you are experiencing brain fog, it can be helpful to think of the problem as one of limited mental resources. If you understand that you only have a small amount of cognitive energy to complete any number of tasks, you can better manage your priorities.

In economics, there is a distribution pattern known as Paretos Law. Pareto Vilfredo was an Italian economist in the late 1800s who discovered a distribution pattern in nature that accurately described many elements of society. His distribution pattern, commonly known as Paretos law, states that 20% of any inputs generate 80% of the outputs.

Pareto first noticed that 80% of the land in his native Italy was held by 20% of the population. Interestingly, he started finding this distribution everywhere. For example, in his garden, he noticed 20% of the pea plants in his garden produced 80% of the peas.

This pattern also directly applies to many aspects of our personal lives and can be leveraged to better manage our priorities.

Try to answer the following question: Which 20% of your tasks make up 80% of your priorities? This is where you should focus your energy.

And you can take it a step further:

On my worst brain fog days, its hard to feel like doing much of anything, let alone creative work. Most of the time its a challenge to do anything other than lay on the couch watching television.

But Ive found that forcing myself to be creative activates my brain in a way that cuts through the fog. It seems counterintuitive, but it can be a powerful way to fight back against brain fog in the midst of a difficult moment.

The next time youre struggling with brain fog, try taking a break from your normal work and force yourself to do something creative for a little while.

Writing works best for me, but the medium doesnt matter. You can write, paint, draw, take photos, make music, or any other artisticor creative endeavor. If your normal work is creative work, try breaking up your routine by creating something entirely new, or simply work on a different task for a while.

This isnt an easy strategy its difficult to force yourself to be creative on a bad brain fog day but after 10-20 minutes, you may find yourself in a creative flow that erases the fog.

One of the best things you can do to cope with brain fog is to take a lot of notes.

Remember, with brain fog, your memory is often impaired, so you can avoid a lot of frustration by just writing everything down.

I keep stacks of index cards, pads of Post-it notes, and small notepads all over my house. I end up with a lot of loose scraps of paper, but I dont have to worry about forgetting an idea, appointment, or anything important.

You can take notes on your phone too, but I find that actually writing things down on a piece of paper can help you to boost your memory.

For random ideas, lists, and general note taking, I use3 x 5 index cards. This forces me to be concise with my notes, plus its easy to carry around.

For reminders, I recommendPost-It notes. If there is something I need to remember, I write it down on a note and stick it to the place where I will most likely need to remember it.

Another helpful trick is to sticknotes to the back of your phone. I do this with important notes that I need to remember at some point in the near future.

I also keep a pad of notes next to my bed to write down reminders or anything important that comes to mind as I brush my teeth or fall asleep, and I stick it to the back of my phone to make sure I see it first thing in the morning.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor or medical professional. Speak with your doctor before trying any new supplement or medication, including activated charcoal. Activated charcoal will reduce the absorption and effectiveness of other medications and supplements. So do not take any activated charcoal supplements within 2 hours before or after taking any other medications or supplements. The charcoal will absorb the medication preventing it from being absorbed by your body.

A while back, I came across a website offering activated charcoal capsules made from coconut shells. It was being sold as a supplement that could quickly absorb toxins in the gut stemming from low-quality foods and environmental pollution.

Activated charcoal is an incredibly absorbent, porous material that can remove over 100 times its weight in toxins from the body. It has been used for thousands of years in both Western and Eastern medicine and is generally considered harmless to the body.

This got me thinkingsome of my worst Menieres disease symptom triggers are related to specific aspects of my diet. Brain fog is usually the first symptom I experience when I eat triggering foods.

It occurred to me that if activated charcoal could quickly remove toxins and impurities from food in my gut, then maybe it could help to reduce my brain fog as well. It was just a hunch, but I decided to give it a try after eating a meal that I shouldnt have eaten, and it reduced my brain fog considerably.

Its unclear exactly why this works, but Ive found that taking activated charcoal capsules after eating any foods that normally trigger brain fog and other symptoms, reduces the intensity of the symptoms quite a bit. The brand I use personally is sold byBulletproof.

Brainwave entrainment is a powerful audio technology that can completely change your mental state in a matter of minutes, and its one of the most effective tools Ive found for mitigating brain fog.

For some vestibular patients, myself included, stimulants like caffeine can trigger symptoms and make brain fog worse. Fortunately, brainwave entrainment can be used to induce a stimulated and focused mental state.

This is possible because there is a specific and somewhat predictable brainwave pattern directly associated with every way you could possibly feel. To put it another way: how you feel changes your brainwaves. But incredibly, the opposite is also true. If you can temporarily influence your brainwave pattern to change with an external stimulus, you will experience the corresponding mental state. This effect is known as brainwave entrainment.

By simply listening to brainwave entrainment audio embedded with the brainwave frequencies that correlate with being alert and focused, you will experience a boost of mental energy.

If youd like to try it out, I created a pay-what-you-want (READ:free-if-you-want-it-to-be) album of brainwave entrainment audio engineered to help people cope with various symptoms Menieres disease like brain fog, fatigueand mental grogginess.

This may seem like a simple solution, but its hard to actually implement. Every day we are endlessly bombarded by notifications, content and information. With email, social media, and smartphones, we face more distractions than ever before in human history.

When we are already dealing with limited mental resources in the face of brain fog, these seemingly minor distractions can rob us of the little bit of productive energy we have left.

Brain fog also requires us to spend more time and energy than is usually necessary to get into the mental space needed to be productive and complete a given task. Every time you get distracted, you have to spend additional energy to re-engage with whatever youre working on.

Before I started writing, I never knew how much time I wasted by being constantly distracted. But every single text message, social media notification, email, and phone call completely destroys my creative flow and it takes a while to get back into the zone, if I do get back at all.

Our smartphones are addictive by design. Apps are often engineered to capture our attention as thoroughly as possible. So the next time you struggling with brain fog and need to be productive, simply turn off your phone, or at the very least put it in Do Not Disturb mode. Close your email inbox and web browser, too.

Brain fog also requires us to spend more time and energy than is usually necessary to get into the mental space needed to be productive and complete a given task. Every time you get distracted, you have to spend additional energy to re-engage with whatever youre working on.

If you want to take it a step further, I recommend keeping an organized workspace as well. A cluttered desk is a distraction in itself and can also be a source of stress.

The idea here is to prevent all possible distractions for a period of time so you can get the most out of the limited energy you have to work with.

If you are actively suffering from brain fog right now, its important to understand that the strategies on this list are not meant to be a magic bullet.

Often times, a bit of legwork is required to get to a place where you can actually notice improvement. And for many vestibular patients like me, keeping brain fog at bay is an ongoing process that requires careful management and vigilance.

But in my opinion, its always worth the effort.

If you can reduce brain fog even 10 to 20%, it can make a meaningful impact on your quality of life. It means being able to do more of the things you want to do and feeling closer to your old self.

I hope youll give these strategies a try and if you know of any other helpful coping strategies for brain fog, please leave a comment below!

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Coping with brain fog: 9 strategies and techniques - Healthy Hearing

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