I can’t even begin to count the time I have had friends, family and co-workers complain about having brain fog during the COVID-19. It seems the longer we are in this pandemic the more brain fog we are feeling. It is frustrating and sometimes quite scary to think about this kind of mental incapacity.
I have found little research about this phenomenon and what to do about it. Recently on the PACES Connection website Ellen Fink-Samnick wrote about brain fog in her own life and provides some tips on what to do about it. Some excerpts from the article are as follows:
As colleagues and peers know, I’m in a Doctorate of Behavioral Health program. My quest for learning is insatiable, especially in a curriculum focused on integrated care, medical literacy, leadership, healthcare quality, and entrepreneurship. Amid my zest to gain knowledge, my brain and I can be at odds. This precious organ periodically reminds me it will only absorb so much information. My critical-thinking is challenged by episodes of brain fog: a collection of symptoms impacting the ability to think, such as distraction, memory lapses, word-finding, and utter frustration.
Activities that would previously take me 30 minutes, took hours. Anxiety kicked in, then rapidly escalated. I worried my brain fog was caused by a medical condition. At times, I thought it was due to being a post-menopausal women on a rigorous academic journey. Instead, I learned there was another explanation. I was among a new generation of persons dealing with the condition.
Brain fog has become a common occurrence across age groups, impacting hundreds of millions of persons around the globe.
Brain Fog More Norm Than Exception
A variety of medical conditions are associated with brain fog (e.g., anemia, autoimmune disorders, COVID, diabetes, migraines, pregnancy), as well as stress. In fact, brain fog and stress are in a synergistic dance. We become easily overwhelmed by daily tasks. We struggle to remember the name of the last movie we watched, our beloved actor, favorite restaurant, or just the last thing we ate. Studies have addressed the traumatic impact of the recent waves of chronic, pandemic-related stress on populations: fear of virus transmission and personal/family safety, grief and loss, job and economic security, increased isolation, profound fatigue. Simultaneously occurring societal tensions have meant an added psychological hit for the population.
She then continues to write about stress and its impact on the brain and provides 12 simple ways to help us overcome brain fog. Some of these techniques are similar to brain breaks that will help us relieve some of the stressors and fears that we have about brain fog.