Mike: Do you have any tips on improving cognitive functions? I tend to get brain fog occasionally and I’m wondering if there’s anything I can do to help myself.
Steph McElroy, Occupational therapist: Okay, a lot of people I know call this the ‘cog fog’ and I think that’s a great expression because I think that’s how it appears and again, how pictorially, it’s like walking through fog, like what is going on here. So yeah, we all get tired, no matter who we are. We all forget things, we all sort of think we’ve remembered something and we haven’t, so I guess it’s about then managing it. So from a cognitive point of view, maybe keeping a diary, I know I’d be lost without my diary. Everybody keeps some sort of order, whether it’s on your phone to bleep at you when you need to take your medication, whether it’s for appointments, whatever it is, but keeping a diary in some sort of format. It may be having lists of things or it may be having a light bulb to remind you what to do that particular day.
Because you start realising you’re forgetting things or you’ve misplaced things or things are not going according to plan, then you put a downer on yourself and that does you no end of good, that doesn’t do your self-esteem any good at all. So yeah, keeping lists, keeping a diary. Using apps to prompt you. Very much at the moment we’re into apps and because of my age and I’m a dinosaur I’m not very into those, but I know that lots of people do use apps in a great way and there’s loads of them available out there. And also, reduce your distractions as well. I think that in lifestyle we are very, very distracted and I know lots of people will say, well I forgot that and I forgot that, but life is very busy. If you’ve got family life and you’ve got work life and you’ve got your social life as well, they all blend into one and sometimes it’s too easy to blame your cog fog. It could just be the fact that’s how it is in life at the moment, there’s too much going on. So it’s good to reduce your distractions so you can focus a little bit more. Easier said than done maybe, but maybe limiting the things that you’re doing or putting them in little boxes so you can pick them up, is quite a good way to be organised and so on.
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