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Brain Fog Tips
Compiled by Paul T. Barrett, Ph.D.

Many people have difficulty concentrating and remembering things, whether or not there is objective evidence of neurological disease or memory loss. This is especially a problem for people with fibromyalgia and related conditions. Sometimes the only treatment is to follow some basic memory and communication tips.

Below are some common-sense pointers that can help you focus and remember better.

  1. Maintain good sleep hygiene. See Dr. Barrett’s sleep hygiene tips for further information on this important topic.

  2. Get treated. Depression, pain and sleep deprivation can influence your ability to concentrate and remember. Getting your medical problems treated may indirectly help your memory.

  3. Stay active. Physical activity can increase your energy, help lift your brain fog, and improve your mood.

  4. Repeat yourself. Repeat things to yourself over and over. Repetition will keep thoughts fresh in your mind.

  5. Write it down. Making a note helps you get a thought more firmly in your mind. You may want to keep a calendar or notebook with you so you can write things down while you're thinking of them.

  6. Visualize. Remembering words or directions can be difficult because they are abstract. Try to picture an image of what you need to remember instead.

  7. Pick your best time. If there is something you need to do that requires concentration and memory, such as balancing your checkbook or following a recipe, pick your best time to do it. Many people perform best early in the day after they have fully woken up.

  8. Do a set of specific tasks in the same order, every day. This will lessen the chance that you will omit something. Retracing your previous steps can help you remember if you forget what you are doing.

  9. Engage yourself. Reading a book, seeing a play, or working a complex crossword or jigsaw puzzle can stimulate your brain and your memory.

  10. Keep it quiet. A radio blasting from the next room, a TV competing for your attention, or background conversation can distract your attention from the task at hand. If possible, move to a quiet place and minimize distractions when you are trying to remember.

  11. Go slowly. Sometimes memory problems can result from trying to do too much in too short a period of time. Break up tasks, and don't take on more than you can handle at once. Stress and fatigue will only make the situation worse.

  12. Explain yourself. Explain your memory difficulties to family members and close friends. Stress often makes memory problems worse. Getting a little understanding from the ones you love may help.

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