Can you remember the color of the car you parked beside this morning? What coat your child wore to school? Or even, “What did I walk in here for?” Our memories are constantly bombarded with information that we need to sort and file for future reference. A co-worker from Columbus, Jenny Lobb, shared this information and I hope you find it helpful.
“How does COVID affect memory?” This is a valid question as up to 30 percent of COVID-19 patients at some clinics report experiencing brain fog weeks to months after they recover from their illness. Brain fog is a term used to describe how you feel when your thinking is sluggish, fuzzy, and not sharp. You might experience brain fog when you are sleep deprived, jet-lagged, recovering from an illness, or experiencing side effects of medication. According to Dr. Tamara Fong, an assistant scientist and associate professor of neurology at the Harvard Medical School, “In many cases, brain fog is temporary and gets better on its own. However, we don’t really understand why brain fog happens after COVID-19, or how long these symptoms are likely to last. But we do know that this form of brain fog can affect different aspects of cognition.”
Cognition refers to the processes in the brain that we use to think, read, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention. People experiencing brain fog may have trouble paying attention, remembering instructions, making plans, learning, storing, and later recalling information.
To help clear brain fog, doctors recommend practicing the same behaviors that have been shown to protect thinking and memory:
- Exercise – aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity physical activity each week. Moderate intensity is anything that gets your heart beating faster. If 150 minutes is too much, do what you can – every little bit adds up!
- Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet – fill your plate with nutrient-dense foods like fruits and vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and low-fat or fat-free dairy products. Limit added sugar, saturated fat, and sodium.
- Get adequate sleep – at least seven hours a night.
- Avoid alcohol and drugs – if you don’t drink, don’t start. If you do drink, limit consumption to one to two drinks a day.
- Engage in social activities – virtually, or in person. A simple text or phone call is sometimes all it takes to stay connected.
- Do brain-stimulating activities like games and puzzles, listening to music, reading, and practicing mindfulness.
In addition to clearing brain fog, I found some additional information that says that practicing mindfulness increases the neuroplasticity of our brains, or it helps to change the way we think. This message was addressing procrastination, and how two parts of our brain give mixed messages. One part is our survival side, telling us that we “can’t do this or I’m just overwhelmed,” thus causing us to put off doing necessary tasks for both our job and our family. The other part of our brain is a little slower in processing, but when it catches up, encourages us to accomplish those tasks and gives a feeling of success when we do them.
I’m guessing I’m not the only one who will write things on my to-do list to cross them off. Even when the day doesn’t go as planned, we still need to feel that we have completed tasks. Mindfulness will help the side of the brain that gives encouragement.
In short, if you haven’t tried mindfulness, check out the benefits at https://fcs.osu.edu/programs/major-program-areas/healthy-relationships/mindful-wellness If you are interested in programs for your group or business please give me a call at 330-264-8722.
Melinda Hill is an OSU Extension Family & Consumer Sciences Educator and may be reached at 330-264-8722 or firstname.lastname@example.org
CFAES provides research and related educational programs to clientele on a nondiscriminatory basis. For more information, visit cfaesdiversity.osu.edu.