• Reanna Mathis

DSN Weigh In- Brain Fog and How to Conquer It

The cold months of the year with all of the weather changes (and barometric weather changes) we all struggle with brain fog. The hours of darkness make our brains ready for sleep as well. In May of last year we asked DSN's global Facebook group what they did to help with brain fog and felt that the responses were just as applicable now.

Something that we all struggle with-The Fog. Brain Fog. Short term memory loss. This seems to be a common complaint among those of us with Dysautonomia and conditions like Chiari, Mast Cell and Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome. However, no matter what illness is causing it, it is a real issue we face. It can cause major problems when it comes to relationships, medication, work, school and other everyday activities. Many of us have developed little ways of adapting to the constant issue of forgetfulness and that is what this weeks Weigh in Wednesday blog post is about!

Jamie P.-I keep a dry erase board on my fridge with my to do list. Add & erase as needed. Iphone is a great tool, I send myself notes so I can keep track.

Rachel-Lots of lists and planners, but I still sometimes forget.

Alys-I make all-day calendar events on my phone for really seemingly inane things that I'll need to remember in the future, the SECOND I learn about them. Like on Monday I learned that my preschooler could take a dinosaur to school on Tuesday for dino day, so I made a calendar event in all caps, "IRIS DINO DAY. PACK DINO ASAP". It helps! For other, less time specific things, I keep notes to myself in my phone's notes app.

Sarah-I swear by my Google Calendar. If it doesn't make it into the calendar, there is a very large chance I won't remember it and will double-book myself or forget a thing I said I'd do. I use one calendar for commitments, one for tentative things, one for meds, one for all day events, one for holidays, etc. Everything gets color-coded too.

Jennifer-lists and mark things on the calendar. I can be mid sentence and completely lose my train of thought. haven't figured out how to fix that.

Rachel M-I mainly use Google calendar on my phone and a paper planner as well. It helps to actually write things down as well as having the reminder on my phone. Post it notes are also helpful.

Ginger-I once got so disoriented in a store that I could not find my car. I did not even remember coming to the store. It was really terrifying.Now I ALWAYS park in the same general area of the lot so if it ever happens again at least I know the general area to look.

Blythe-On my really bad times of the day, I suck on peppermint. It seems to keep my mind clear and wakes me up!

Cassandra-Make list, post it notes, phone calendar, write personal reminders on my copy of my work schedule, borrow my fiance's brain, and pray.

Kimberly-If I think of it, I write it down ASAP. There are days that I have the fridge open and don’t know why I’m there. Retracing steps to try to jog my memory works pretty good. And calendars...everywhere.

Amy-The night before writing down goals etc for the following day ....then following it. A designated organized work space and time. Post its and not distracting myself with social media until done..Caffeine.

Kelly-I use post it notes. They're EVERYWHERE.

Gina-Everything goes into my planner! I have to physically write something down in order to remember it and my chalk board helps too.

Amanda-I have a dry erase bored in my room on my closet door and my phone's calendar has everything on it. I also use the Samsung notes on my phone a lot too to keep track of stuff I wanna watch or places I should go and check out.

Niki-Everything has to be written down for me. I have 4 kids and a real estate business. Lots of details! If I don't write it down, it does not happen. I even have a pad of paper and pen by my bed in case i need to "data dump" in the middle of the night!

Caitlyn-Between POTS brain fog and pregnancy brain I've given up on trying to remember things. I seriously put the milk in the pantry where the oil goes and the oil in the fridge. I use the notes app on my phone to remember everything I need to to, lists for errands, and things to remember like which plants I wanna grow this year. If something has to be done on a certain day, I put it in my iCal with an alert reminder. I use alarms on my phone for everything from feeding the dog to taking my next dose of pills. I just try to be patient with myself and get through each day. The tiny human will be worth it.

Suzan-We have a large calendar on the closet door to keep track of both our appointments, so there's no interference with each others. My husband has to drive me. And naturally the calendar in my phone tracks that. Then I use notes on my phone, with reminders for scheduling medications daily. I often ask people to text me what they told me, cause "I might forget" if it was important.

Sarah- The big one for me is forgetting stuff. I try to keep things in a specific place, but if I am tired or in a hurry to run out the door and something gets moved from its original place or doesn't make it back to it's place, all bets are off. I will lose it / forget it. ...even if I grabbed it from it's usual place and put it somewhere "obvious" like the doorknob of the front door.

Anisa-(Since I’ve always been a list maker & calendar event type of person, thought I’d share a different trick that’s helped me.) I’ve noticed that my love of word games (word searches, crosswords, & the like) seems to have helped me hang on to more of my beloved vocab. I still struggle with spelling things I used to just know, but my wife says she has yet to notice the brain fog limiting my use of my vocab. Trust me, I can TOTALLY feel a difference, but the outside world doesn’t seem to see it. I attribute it to daily word games on my phone. Crossing my fingers they keep helping!

Reanna-Dry Erase boards and my newly discovered Dry Erase TAPE! I have that stuff all over my house. It is so helpful. Everything gets put in my google calendar. If it does not, then forget about me remembering it. Each week on Sunday night, I do my meds for the week and put them in a weekly container. I was getting to the point I was forgetting meds and that was bad. I use Google Keep too for checklist items and I can share those lists with other people which has been really helpful.

Ambrosia- (1) Electronic and cloud solutions are a game changer. Everything is on Gmail Inbox, Google keep, Onenote, and instead of saving to my computer I save to OneDrive. I use the Cozi app for appointments and setting routines up as well as lists and recipes and meal plans. (2) Disc bound notes are my real world power houses. The convenience of a notebook with the versatility of a binder. I organize medical with one. I track wellness with another. One is a family recipe compilation. Another is the house and vehicle maintenance log. These all get tied into phone reminders via cozi. (3) Get into routines. Healthy people might not get it--One wellness guru even said it's because people who are sick or chronically ill have a tendency to try and control their schedule as much as possible because they can't control anything else in life. Couldn't be farther from the truth. I have very rigid extensive routines not because I feel the need to control something in my life, but because developing life skill habits means that when my brain stops working I have intrinsic memory about what to do and when to do it or what I've done and where I did it. It can make life a bit of a bummer having such a rigid schedule, but I don't see it as any different than a professional working 10-hour days. I only have so many spoons, so by carefully planning and strategically allocating them throughout the week I can get my priorities accomplished. In addition, when I have a serious flare I have a habitual framework to fall back on.

Cathy-I use Google Keep getting used to it don’t like that it doesn’t notify when changes are made but still learning. Cozi so far so good. Google calendar life saver just having issues with merging. Care zone I love so far.

Shannon-Lists. Then lists to remember those lists. Most of the stuff goes in my phone with an alarm. I still forget if I don't set the notifications right. Projects have one list. House cleaning another list. Each kid has their own list. Prob going back to the dry erase board so i don't lose all these notebooks!

Well, folks, there you have it. Memory tips by DSN members! There were a lot of great tips here today. Most of us rely on our electronic devices with a bit of old school back ups like list making. Dry erase boards seem to be a favorite of the crowd too. I hope some of these tips will help you get a handle on the brain fog! Come back next week for tips on housework, kitchen hacks and outdoor maintenance.

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