COVID's side effects appear to vary from person to person, and we're still discovering what they are and how long they'll stay. However, one of the most common issues they're seeing with post-COVID patients is persistent brain fog, particularly in older adults. According to a recent study, around 30-40% of persons infected with COVID-19 suffered "brain fog," which is a catch-all term for mental cloud, memory loss, difficulty thinking of specific words, difficulties paying attention, and even feeling overwhelmed with ordinary everyday tasks.
We don't know how long this brain fog will stay, and hopefully, it won't be permanent, but if it does, here are some Brainhacks to clear the fog and get your memory and brain back on track.
1. Reduce your stress with breathing exercises and meditation.
Stress is an underlying problem for a lot of health issues we face, and brain fog is no different. In modest quantities, stress can be beneficial. It's fantastic if someone is chasing you with a knife or if you tread on a snake while strolling. But here's the thing: it's designed to help you survive a perilous circumstance. It's not supposed to be experienced every day, all day, every day.
That is, unfortunately, what our modern civilization has produced. We're stuck in traffic, reading angry social media posts, and stressing over piles of bills, and that constant stress is like a narcotic that harms our brain and body.
Practice attentive breathing techniques to counteract stress and the negative effects it has on your memory and brain:
Close your eyes and start breathing deeply and slowly diaphragmatically. This involves breathing from your stomach rather than your chest. Imagine all of your stress being dragged in from every corner and extremity into your stomach as it expands as you inhale. Feel the stress leaving your body and melting right in front of you as you softly exhale. Rep this process slowly and deliberately. After a few minutes, you should notice a decrease in your stress level. Because our tendency when shocked is to suck air quickly into our chest, breathing with your stomach is like a switch to turn down stress. This is nature's shortcut, and the way you breathe has a direct impact on how stressed you are.
2. Get better sleep and stay on a routine.
Over 30 percent of Americans, according to the American Sleep Association, suffer from insomnia or sleep loss. Sleep deprivation has also been linked to the development of cognitive fog. Humans used to sleep twice a night, rising in the middle of the night for a brief period before returning to bed. This was before the light bulb was invented. When we turn on the light late at night, it fools our brain into thinking it's still sunlight. Melatonin levels are reduced as a result of this.
To counteract artificial light and sleep better, you can take a melatonin pill (if your doctor allows it). When taking melatonin, take it right before bedtime and in small doses. It isn't for safety reasons; it is simply ineffective. It's not a sedative, but rather a sleep inducer, so more isn't necessarily better. However, you should see your physician. The difference is in the consistency and sleep schedule.
3. Never stop learning.
The brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body, it grows weaker if it isn't used. And the truth is that your brain enjoys learning, but most people stop learning after they graduate from high school. Most people are simply "applying" what they already know rather than acquiring new knowledge and pushing their intellect.
So, if you want to avoid brain fog and regain control of your memory and brain, you must continue to learn. And it has to be unique each day. Yes, doing a Sudoku or crossword puzzle every night is fine, but your brain will ultimately adapt. An app, email, or service that sends you a new puzzle or challenge every day would be a better alternative. Learning a new language or musical instrument is also a terrific way to keep your mind stimulated on a regular basis.
Will these tactics and pointers help you get rid of your COVID brain fog? Although the full impact of COVID-induced brain fog is still unknown, adopting these brainhacks can significantly improve your overall well-being. So, get out there and continue to study, begin breathing, and get some rest.
About the Author:
Dave Farrow is the two-time Guinness World Record holder for Greatest Memory, a title he earned by recalling the exact order of 59 decks of shuffled playing cards using 'The Farrow Memory Method.' Dave has been a featured guest expert on over 2000 interviews in the media including multiple appearances on Dr. Oz, The Today Show, Live with Regis and Kelly, Steve Harvey, Discovery Channel, and many others. Today, Dave uses his keen understanding of the brain in the public relations and media sector. He is the founder and CEO of Farrow Communications, a full-service PR and marketing firm known for brain-based marketing and memorable messaging. Dave’s upcoming book, Brainhacker, which will help you to “rewire” your brain and boost its power, will be released later this year.