Aside from fighting pain all the time, if that weren’t challenging enough, one of the most frustrating side-effects of Fibromyalgia is so-called Fibro Fog.
What is Fibro Fog?
Also called Brain Fog this symptom causes a feeling of wooliness around the brain which makes thinking (or cognitive function for that matter) intensely difficult.
It can make me feel like there’s an invisible expanse between me and the rest of the world.
There are many definitions of this symptom and DrMyHill.com defines Brain Fog by its outcomes:
- Poor short term memory
- Difficulty learning new things
- Poor mental stamina and concentration – there may be difficulty reading a book or following a film story or following a line of argument
- Difficulty finding the right word
- Thinking one word, but saying another
Most of these happen to me.
What Difficulties Fibro Fog Gives Me
The clouding or misting of my mind causes multiple issues for me:
I simply cannot do meetings or phone calls early in the day. As I do my best at working with Fibromyalgia, I have to put some limits in. Fibro Fog, and the fact that my meds aren’t working properly until after 10am most days, stops me from being functional enough if I have to communicate early in the day.
Nowadays, I simply do not drive. I can’t think clearly enough at the start of the day to be safe on the roads and, due to Chronic Fatigue, I’m so shattered at the end of the day I can’t really drive back. Thankfully my other half drives and, as we work together, it’s not a massive inconvenience for her either.
Aside from work, Fibro Fog really affects me in social situations. I feel a bit claustrophobic in a large group of people and the mistiness prevents me from working out where my attention should be. This includes time at church. I wish my church would discover evening meetings! I would be so much more on the ball.
If I just worked for myself, I would prefer to work 1pm-8pm because that’s when I’m more capable. Sadly in the UK, the normal pattern is more like 8:30am-5:30pm. So I have adjusted my times to 9:30am-5:30pm. I still can’t hold meetings at 9:30am but at least I’m there!
How Can You Reduce Brain Fog?
I can only offer advice I’ve heard from others, along with a little bit of experience. Nothing clears it completely or even consistently, but anything’s worth trying, right?
- Caffeine: Yep, if I have a morning coffee I can become more cognitively functional quicker. Sadly coffee and fibromyalgia also can add to my pain levels if I consume too much. So it’s about balance.
- Breakfast: Your brain’s functionality is only as good as what you put into your body. If I don’t have breakfast (because I forget, or don’t have time) then getting into the day is so much harder. So if I get breakfast and coffee, I help myself a lot.
- Reduce Gluten Intake: According to a few websites, reducing your gluten intake may help you with brain fog reduction (Link). It didn’t help me, but there’s no one-size-fits-all with chronic illnesses.
- Reduce Multitasking: As I sit here, I have 7 pinned browser tabs (website stats, DNS monitoring, Hootsuite, MailChimp, Outlook.com, Trello and Web Ranking Tracking) along with 8 currently in-use tabs. I don’t learn. Humans aren’t really designed for multi-tasking. You cannot effectively do many things and do them all well. Switching between tasks also causes ‘wasted time’ in settling to the new focal point. LiveScience says this can cause a foggy brain. The problem is the world expects instant answers, social media never stops and work emails always come in. If we just focussed on doing one thing at once, it would help. And make the world a calmer place. (Image Credit)
- Exercise: Most exercise methods are impossible for me now. Running hurts my legs, walking tires me out in 15 minutes, swimming hurts my hands. I’m not promoting laziness, it’s just hard. But if you’re able to exercise then getting more oxygen to your brain can help. Even having a door or window open to let some air in could help.
TL;DR Fibro Fog
Fibro Fog (or Brain Fog) can happen in people with or without health conditions. I hope I was able to help someone with this post. And if you have any strategies for combatting the fogginess please post them in the comments – you may help someone by doing so.