“You’re really foggy this morning, aren’t you?,” my husband asked as I stood in the middle of the kitchen trying to figure out what I was in there for. He was just starting to make our morning coffee and I had zoned out about three times already.
Of all the wacky things that go along with fibromyalgia, this brain fog is probably the most disconcerting for me. As I’ve mentioned before, I’m retired military, and making quick, sound decisions was part of my everyday life. Now, it often takes me a while to even process what I’m supposed to be making a decision about, much less make one!
Add to that the inability to remember things, and sometimes, I feel as if my brain is just shutting down on me. I’m learning to live with it, but I don’t have to like it :o). I teach a Life Group at church a couple of times a month, and sometimes, in the middle of teaching, I’ll just forget what I was saying, or where my train of thought was headed. It’s embarrassing, but thankfully, I teach a group of older ladies, and they just laugh and tell me it’s only going to get worse as I get older. That definitely makes me a lot more comfortable in the moment, but then, when I think about it, it scares the living daylights out of me. Worse? Really??? Yikes!
Whether I like it or not, brain fog is a part of life with fibromyalgia, so I’ve developed work-arounds to help me function halfway normally even on those days I can’t think straight. I thought I’d share them, and although most of them probably won’t be new to you, hopefully, you’ll find something helpful here.
Five Ways to Find Your Way Through the (Fibro) Fog
- Make lists – I make lists for groceries, meal ideas, blog ideas, you name it, I probably have a list for it. These really are my lifeline when I’m having one of those foggy days. They help me stay focused and serve as my “memory” when I can’t remember things.
- As much as possible, stay organized – Keep the things you use most often in the same place all the time, and after you use them, put them right back in the same place. When you’re having one of those foggy days, you don’t have to think about where things are; your muscle memory will take care of it for you. You’ll just go straight to what you need and not have to worry about trying to remember where it is.
- Set up reminders in your computer, on your phone, whatever you usually have around that will get the reminder to you. I use my Amazon Echo now. We got one when Amazon had Prime Day – they were half off so I figured “why not?” I now have a new best friend! All I have to do is say, “Alexa, set a reminder” for whatever I need to be reminded of, or “Alexa, add ____________ to my shopping list” and it’s taken care of. The important thing is just to put your reminders in whatever format works best for you.
- When you’re out and about, only lock the car door with the key fob from outside the car. Getting locked out of the car has been a big fear of mine since this brain fog started, so I just make sure I have my key fob in hand before I even open the car door to get out, and I never touch the lock button on the door.
- Set up a double-check system for things that are critical, i.e., I have a gas stove, so after I’m done cooking, I always go back and double-check each burner and the oven to make sure the gas is completely off.
Of course, the best thing we can do is to try to keep the fibro fog at bay as much as possible with a healthy diet, exercise, things that stimulate the brain such as brain games or reading, etc., and even deep breathing. I know that last one sounds weird, but I’ve noticed that because of the almost-constant tightness I have in my upper body, my breathing is very shallow most of the time. Deep breathing brings more oxygen into the lungs, which then passes into the bloodstream and nourishes the brain.
Do you deal with fibro fog? What kind of systems do you have in place for your foggy days?