The bad news is that people don’t care. We live in a results- driven society, and unless you’re popular, people are interested in output and not excuses (even if you are fortunate enough to be a “golden child,” peoples’ patience with the abnormal is limited). Kick and scream over it, and you’ll be labeled a “whiner,” because everybody is busy, everybody is overwhelmed, and everybody has their hands full dealing with their own business. It isn’t personal, although it feels like it is. And that’s step one to dealing with brain fog:
Don’t play the “blame game. Our “instant everything” society has shortened our patience to the span of a micron, so do yourself a favor and don’t get hung up on who you think should be helping, who should be more sympathetic, who should have called or come by, etc. You’re just as guilty of failing with everybody in your life at one point or another. It’s impossible to be there for everybody, every time, all the time. We don’t have enough time or energy to be as attentive as we’d like to be, so we’re going to fail to meet other peoples’ expectations every now and then. Have some grace.
If you do find yourself getting frustrated or angry with the world, then realize that you’re tired and take a break and get more rest. I know it’s been said so often that it sounds cliché, but you have to take care of yourself, or you’re no good to anybody else. It’s difficult to be effective or helpful if you’re so burned out that you can’t maintain a train of thought, and the first way to combat this is to make sure you get enough sleep, and to take breaks. The Tasmanian Devil wasn’t effective whirling around all over the place, and neither are you. There’s nothing wrong with going to bed early, and taking 15-30 minutes to yourself every now and then.
Many people think the key to getting through hectic days is to load up on caffeine. While I won’t deny you the morning cup of coffee, this is a mistake. Forget caffeine, and get protein. Protein is good for your muscles, and your brain is a muscle! That’s why I call protein “brain food.” Eat some meat for lunch and breakfast, and swap that soft drink for a protein drink or shake. Trust me, it works. I was up at 4:45 a.m. yesterday to get Rick to the hospital for his surgery at 6 a.m., and a Boost drink kept me going until I could have breakfast nearly two hours later.
Another way to cut through brain fog is to stop multitasking. I know it’s tempting, and you think you’ve got this and it’s the best way to keep things rolling, but studies have shown that people are most effective when they focus on one thing at a time. Slow down, and if you find yourself distracted then make a list to consult later. But for gosh sake, put a moratorium on multasking. You may totally have it most of the time, but if you have brain fog then this is clearly not “most of the time.”
This leads to another tip, which is to let your smartphone make you look smart. Use the note, calendar, and reminder apps to keep you on track, especially for time sensitive things like paying bills. I forgot to balance the checkbook when our parakeet died. Fortunately, it wasn’t a time of the month when anything was due, but it still startled me when I realized it two days later. Don’t assume that anything is a no-brainer at times like these. That’s just it – your brain isn’t functioning as fully and clearly as normal, so don’t test it. Let your phone, computer, or even notes all over the house help you.
One more tip is to let other people help you. This is especially critical if you’re in a long-term situation. Hire out things like yard work and housekeeping if you can, and if somebody offers to help, then don’t be afraid to tell them what you need. There are many people that offer help and services, either for a fee or volunteer based, so research these options and make wise use of them.
I would caution you not to get overly dependent on one person. I think we all know of those “go to” people that are #1 on our speed dial for help, but remember that they have lives and responsibilities of their own (as discussed above). Use discernment and if you sense that they’re ignoring your messages, then there are seven billion people on the planet, so turn elsewhere. Also, be prepared to reciprocate when this season of life passes and they need your help, and always thank them. The fastest way to get somebody to stop doing things for you is to stop showing gratitude. That’s an easy one to avoid, so avoid it.
Another tip is to set priorities. Don’t try to do everything right now. This is where the lists and reminders I mentioned above can come in handy: take a time out every day to look over them, and determine what must happen, and what can be postponed. Everything doesn’t have to happen today, or by the end of the week, or the month, or the next holiday. The sun rises every day and while we live, we have another day to get things done. Pay attention to deadlines, mind to what’s critical, and after that see what’s left and decide what you’d like to see done.
And finally, the good news: life might seem to be spinning out of control, but you do have control over how things go from here. The way to take control is to be patient with yourself. Yes, the world is impatient, but that’s their problem. You need some grace right now, and the only way you get the respect you need is to give it to yourself first. Don’t berate yourself, get frazzled, or call attention to yourself unnecessarily. As I said above, if you find yourself drifting toward irritation, then you’re tired and need a time out. People mirror what they see, so if they see you doing your best and taking care of things in a patient and efficient manner, then they’ll pick up that energy and mellow out themselves (or go away). Remember, the way you change the world is from within. Take charge of your mind to cut through the fog, and everything else will follow.
That’s all today. Take care. Have a happy Friday tomorrow and a wonderful weekend.