Hacks for Dealing with Brain Fog
Brain fog: it's one of the most frustrating symptoms lupus patients have to live with. Brain fog sometimes feels just like its name suggests: a thick fog in your brain that makes it hard to think. Sometimes called cognitive dysfunction by doctors, brain fog is an awful combination consisting of short term memory loss, a lack of focus, and an inability to formulate thoughts.
I've struggled with brain fog many times, particularly during lupus cerebritis, or brain inflammation, flares. Each time, it felt as if my brain had been hijacked. Even simple tasks like microwaving instant oatmeal or cleaning my kitchen confused me. Fortunately, brain fog has not been a constant symptom. It usually subsides as I recover from a flare. However, I've experienced it enough that I've developed some hacks for dealing with it. Here they are:
Hacks for lupus brain fog
If you enter a room and forget why you're there, don't retrace your steps
Every one of us has at some point walked into a room in our house only to forgot what we needed in that room. If you have brain fog, this might happen to you multiple times throughout the day. I used to waste many minutes of my day retracing my steps and becoming frustrated with myself when I couldn't remember what I was looking for.
Over time, I realized that the memory of what I was supposed to be doing will eventually come back to me, and retracing my steps will not necessarily speed up that process. These days, when I forget what I'm supposed to be doing while in the middle of a task, I simply move on to the next task. This saves me time and prevents me from becoming frustrated. And eventually, I always remember the initial task and am able to complete it.
Develop habits for entering or exiting your house
I used to constantly lose my keys and worry that I didn't lock my door before leaving home. Then I decided to develop a habit of keeping my keys on a hook by the door. For weeks, I made sure I hung my keys on this hook before I put them anywhere else. Now, I automatically hang them up when I come home.
I also developed a habit of locking my door before I put my keys in my purse. Because of these habits that automatically happen without me thinking about them, I no longer lose my keys or worry about leaving the door unlocked.
Download a find my phone app on your watch or computer
I tend to misplace my possessions when I'm struggling with brain fog. This means I frequently lose my phone. Fortunately, I'm able to find it easily with a phone locator app on my watch. In the future, I'll also consider Tilex or Apple Air Tags for other often misplaced possessions.
Use a to-do list app on your phone
To keep track of important tasks or bills that need to be paid, I use a To-Do app on my phone. Not only does my phone keep track of things I need to remember, but I can also set it to reminder me at certain times throughout the day.
Tell a friend at work
If you have a job, dealing with brain inflammation at work can leave you feeling insecure and exposed. Rather than deal with this alone, confide in a colleague you trust. Having a work friend to cover for you if need be or to gentle remind you of meetings and assignments is invaluable.
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