My frustration with "Fibro Fog" pushed me to draw on my experience as a registered nurse and a dementia specialist. I never imagined I'd be implementing the strategies I had learned from studying memory into my own life. Happy to say I was able to formulate ways to overcome Fibro Fog. Here are tips and easy techniques you can start using today to help improve your memory and concentration.
As you implement these strategies, remember to be patient with yourself. You can fight Fibro Fog and gain better control over your life again.
WHAT IS FIBRO FOG?
It's important to understand that fibromyalgia is not just a condition of chronic pain and fatigue. There are brain effects that seem to go along with this syndrome, although doctors don’t know exactly how the brain and the pain of fibromyalgia are interrelated.
Many people who have fibromyalgia also experience a brain fog, known within the fibromyalgia community as “Fibro Fog,” a set of cognitive problems that plague people living with fibromyalgia. It includes poor memory, a diminished sense of concentration, and a lessened ability to focus on any tasks.
Exactly what causes fibro fog is unclear. Not everyone experiences fibro fog when they have fibromyalgia, but it can be very debilitating for those that do. Those who have jobs that require concentration often suffer from decreased productivity. For some, it means having to leave a good position because their brain does not function efficiently enough to keep up with the cognitive portion of the job.
When suffering from fibro fog, you may feel helpless and inefficient. It can lead to depressive symptoms because you know you are not living up to your potential.
Fortunately, there are things you can do that will help you counteract this phenomenon.
Memory is not something that you can see. You know it’s there inside of your brain. The important thing is that there is a place where you can store and retrieve information whenever you need it.
It’s been said that there are three areas where memory can be stored in the brain. There is the sensory area, the short-term memory, and the long-term memory. We don’t have to hold on to everything that is stored in our brain. There is a section that acts as a protector so that you aren’t bombarded with information overload.
There is not much capacity in your short-term memory. However, if you divide the information into chunks, it could stay in your memory a little longer than usual. You can also repeat the information to keep the short-term memory going.
The information to get to the long-term memory bank will go through the sensory and short-term memory first.
Crucial information goes to the long-term memory bank. If you use the information repeatedly, it will probably go to the long-term memory area. When information is well understood or meaningful to someone, it can be easier to store in their long-term memory.
If you are looking to improve your memory and fight off fibro fog, this guide provides some tips and techniques that you can use to start the process. As you utilize them, you can keep information in your memory bank without the embarrassment of forgetfulness.
You can practice improving your memory. Like anything you do, the more you practice, the better and easier it becomes.
Begin by recalling things you read, such as newspapers and online texts. Read a segment and then talk about what you read with a friend or over dinner with your family. If you are successful with that, it shows that you paid attention to what you were reading.
If you're not successful with that, you may have to remind yourself to pay more attention. Soak up the important details. This can be the key to keeping it in your memory bank. Eventually, you will be able to master improving your memory.
Part of practicing what you're reading or what you’ve heard involves being focused. You must keep your attention on the issue at hand. If you are conversing with someone, listen to what they are saying. You could ask them to repeat it if you did not hear or understand.
Some people have trouble focusing when there is noise. Try to find somewhere quiet to read or talk. There may be times when there will be disruptions, but minimize them if possible. The less noise and distractions you have to deal with, the better off you'll be. You will be able to focus more on the task at hand.
Repeating things silently or aloud may improve your memory. If you are receiving information from someone else, repeat and confirm what they tell you.
It's a good idea to take notes so that you can refer to them later.
"Although the world is full of suffering, it is also full of the overcoming of it." Helen Keller
There are some things that you may forget that you need to recall often or are of a sensitive nature that you do not want to write down. The chunking technique may be what you need to store this information. This technique is also useful to store numbers and complex letter sequences - like remembering passwords. If you have a lot of numeric or letter information, such as a password, it can be broken down into a few chunks so you can remember it easier. It will require less energy to think about what you need to remember.
With chunking, you can also find certain subjects to relate to the numbers or letters. Then as you think about those subjects, you connect them with the number you are trying to recite. The more you connect and relate to the information, the better chance you will remember the numbers.
Chunking is also useful when you go shopping. Write your list, putting your purchases into categories so you can enter the correct aisles and prevent aimless roaming and searching. This will save time and frustration.
REMEMBERING NAMES, PLACES AND OTHER THINGS
If you are shopping in a large area, you might forget where you parked, which is often frustrating and confusing. To remedy this, look for a nearby landmark to help you remember where your car is parked.
In some parking lots, there are numbers to designate the spaces. Takedown that number and put it somewhere where you can find it. Recognizable sounds and smells are useful triggers that remind you of the location are useful too. Consider also drawing a map.
If you are cooking, it’s important to be focused and concentrate, so you keep to the recipe. Consider measuring out each ingredient before you commence cooking, double-checking you have all your ingredients out and the correct amount ready before you begin in case you get distracted while cooking.
Forgetting someone’s name can be rather embarrassing. If you are introducing someone to another person, and you can’t remember the third person’s name, that’s not a good sign. It happens more than people think. It’s easier to recollect someone’s face than their name. Your brain can process recognizing faces easier than it can remember names. When it comes to remembering names, your brain has to reach down and think about them. It takes more energy, and it is not an easy task.
There are some ways to overcome this problem. You can choose something significant that relates to that person and associate it with that person's name. You can also pay close attention when the person’s name is announced and repeat it.
You can connect their name with another piece of information. For instance, look at their face. Find unique features that would make them stand out. Continue to repeat the person’s name and connect the feature with it. The more you do this, the better chance you will remember their name if you should see that person again.
USING THE ENVIRONMENT AROUND YOU
Remember back in the day when people would tie a string around their finger to remind them they had something to do? It served as a visualization tool. Whenever they saw the string, it let them know that they needed to finish the job. With all of the electronic gadgets nowadays, it’s doubtful that anyone is still using a piece of string. Within your environment, though, there are things that you can do to help improve your memory. You can make them part of your daily routine.
Ways to use the environment to fight FIBRO FOG -
If you have clothes that you need to take to or pick up from the cleaners, place a hanger on the knob of your bedroom door or your front door. This way, you will remember the chore when you see the hanger.
Using a timer while you are reading or studying can help you to improve your memory. Knowing that you have limited time to read the material can help you focus.
If you are studying at home, you should do what you can to remove your environment's distractions. It seems when you are the busiest is when the distractions seem to crop up.
The ringer on your phone should be silent. If you need music to listen to while you’re studying, play some soft music that can get you in the mood to study. If you are studying for a few hours, take regular breaks. It gives you a chance to refresh your brain. If you don’t, you can have a breakdown in your concentration and focus level. On your break, take a brief walk or eat a healthy snack.
Do the most mentally taxing jobs when your mind is at the clearest, usually between ten am and three pm. This also correlates to times when your physical symptoms are usually at their most stable.
ELIMINATE UNNECESSARY REPETITIVE ACTIONS
If you are one of those who habitually forget things, you may be out of focus and have difficulty concentrating. You allow things and events to take over your life. You may have too much on your plate and allow distractions and stressful situations to plague your day. You may have a concise attention span or no attention span at all. All of this can prevent you from remembering important things.
When doing particular things become a habit, you may find that you can't remember if you have done them or not.
To prevent this, be cognizant of what you're doing. You must focus on and pay attention to your actions. Eliminate from your mind whatever is clouding your judgment.
Distractions can mess you up when you are working on breaking a habit. For some, it is a struggle to pay attention to what they are doing. Paying attention can help you to remember your actions and eliminate anything that you don't need to keep doing. Some of it is little stuff, such as turning out the lights before leaving a room or unplugging the iron when you're done.
Here is a list of tips that you can use to prevent being so habitually repetitive:
As you are leaving your home, stop for a moment. Think about what you need to do before you leave.
Think about the areas that you need to secure, such as the front and back doors. Pay attention when you are tending to those areas. They are critical when it comes to securing your home.
Being organized is very important when it comes to getting rid of unnecessary habits. Create a plan and stick to it. Make a list of things you need to do every day. Once you have completed each task, cross it off. This will release you from unnecessary repetition and worry, and it also saves you time.
Always keep your list in the same spot so that you will be able to find it easily.
Make sure that there's a place for everything that you use on a regular or daily basis. For instance, place pens in a particular drawer or a pen holder. That way, you will never be searching for a pen. Do the same for car keys, sunglasses, reading glasses, and the TV remote control. Assign them a place in your home. Putting them in places other than where they were can cause confuse you.
If you have children, place their book bags by the front door. That way, they will not forget them. If you make them lunch, put it in their book bag right after you've fixed it. If you make lunch for yourself, you can put it near the front door so that you will remember to take it.
Go over all of the tasks you want to achieve in a day, using a daily planner or journal to jot down the important information and things you need to do.
Place the most important things first. Keep the planner with you so that you can refer back to it. Make sure that you have everything that you need to complete the tasks at hand.
Keeping important information, such as names, phone numbers, addresses, directions in a daily planner or on your phone can also significantly aid a stress-free routine.