How to Handle MS “Brain Fog”
Try these five methods:
Tell your doctor. “We try to filter out any related problems that can affect you, like depression, poor sleep, and fatigue,” Klineova says. “When we treat those symptoms, the brain fog may begin to lift.”
Use your strengths to help you manage your weaknesses. If you have trouble remembering where you put the remote control or when you’re supposed to meet your friend for lunch, set up a central command where you keep track of everything happening in your household.
“Keep lots of lists, and have a family calendar where everyone can see what they need to do and where they need to go,” says Rosalind Kalb, PhD, vice president for health care information and resources at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. “Those organizational strategies can help you feel less foggy. You can learn ways to compensate for the challenges.”
Talk to your boss. Let her know what you need. The law requires employers to make “reasonable accommodations” that make it possible for you to do your job.
“Brain fog is one of those things that you may need help with at work,” Kalb says. “For instance, your manager can’t have a conversation with you in the hallway and assume you’ll remember everything she asked you to do. You may need written instructions. Or if your office is always warm, you might request a fan. With MS, your body is extra sensitive to heat, and you may feel sharper when you can stay cool.”
Give yourself extra time.
“Because your brain is communicating more slowly, realize that everything will take a little longer to do,” Rypma says. “Slow down and do things one at a time to help you compensate.” Don’t try to multitask. Go easy on yourself.
Stay active. Do as much as you can physically, and keep your mind challenged, too. Keep up with the hobbies and other interests you enjoy, and try different puzzles and games.
“’Use it or lose it’ holds true for all of us,” Kalb says. “When you stay actively engaged in work and hobbies, it keeps your brain active and stimulated. It’s not a cure, but it definitely makes you feel better.”