In my life with Meniere’s Disease, there are few things that I find more frustrating than a great day ruined by brain fog.
It can be so disheartening.
After several difficult weeks of intense, constant disequilibrium, I’ve been back on a somewhat productive streak. And as a result, my new book is finally finished. My paperback proof copy is in the mail. And launch day is next week, just in time for the holidays!
But yesterday, I was swiftly reminded that pushing myself this hard always carries a cost. At about two in the afternoon, brain fog struck me down.
And it was a hard blow, because even with the finish line in sight, I still have so much work to do. But it’s so difficult to work when your mental energy disappears and your head feels like mush.
I truly believe that on difficult days like this, rest is the best medicine. But in the battle against brain fog, rest isn’t always an option.
When you have a day where you need to push through, these tactics can help you finish your work.
Emotional Shock and Awe:
Have you ever listened to a song that gave you goosebumps? Or watched something inspirational that resonated so deeply with you that it sent a chill down your spine?
Maybe you experienced it while reading a powerful book, or at a surprising twist in a movie. It’s safe to say that our bodies respond to strong emotional content in unusual ways.
But recently, I noticed something interesting. When brain fog strikes, listening to a song or watching a movie that elicits a powerful emotional response, the kind that makes your skin tingle, dramatically affects my brain fog.
It doesn’t make it go away, but a powerful change in emotional perspective is often enough to break me out of my mental funk. It offers a small window of mental energy to start working again, and when I seize the opportunity, I can usually finish what I’m working on.
If you find yourself being blocked by brain fog, take a few minutes to watch or listen to something powerful. It can be sad or inspiring, beautiful or revealing. Just find something that gives you that telltale tingling sensation.
To get you started, here is my goto channel for emotionally powerful videos: Humankind (a part of the USA today network).
When you live with Meniere’s disease, caffeine is, unfortunately, not typically an effective tool against brain fog. In fact, if caffeine is a trigger for you, it can make your brain fog a whole lot worse. But you can get a similar boost in mental energy with brainwave entrainment audio. It’s a technology that allows you to alter your mental state in very targeted ways with nothing but sound.
I’ve written extensively about brainwave entrainment as a tool to cope with Meniere’s disease, but it bears repeating here, because it’s so effective against brain fog.
Brainwaves are the electrical signals your brain cells use to communicate. Without getting into the science, all you need to understand is that there is a specific and somewhat predictable brainwave pattern directly associated with every single action you could ever take, as well as every single way you could ever feel.
To put it another way: how you feel changes your brainwaves. But incredibly, the opposite is also true. You can change your mental state, and how you feel, by changing your brainwaves with an external stimulus, like sound. This effect is known as Brainwave Entrainment.
By simply listening to brainwave entrainment audio embedded with the frequencies that correspond with being alert and focused, you will suddenly find yourself feeling a boost of mental energy.
If you’d like to try it out, last year, I created a pay-what-you-want (READ: free if want it to be) album of brainwave entrainment audio to help people cope with Meniere’s disease. It features tracks to help you counteract brain fog, fatigue, and morning grogginess.
For the last 6 years, I’ve worked from home. It’s been wonderful, and it helps me cope with Meniere’s disease. But I’m home nearly all the time, and it affects my mindset. Most days, it’s helpful. My routines and comfort help me spend my mental energy on the things that matter most, allowing me to be productive. But when I’m dealing with brain fog, it’s the opposite.
The repetitive environment can quickly begin to reinforce unhealthy habits, and my feelings of frustration and despair. When this happens, and I have work that has to get done, sometimes just a change of scenery is enough to clear the fog a bit.
Working from a new environment helps to keep the wheels spinning a bit longer. But you don’t have to take your work with you. Sometimes it’s better to just take a break, go somewhere else for a little while, preferably around people, and come back with a fresh set of eyes.
When my brain fog is at its worst, I never feel like doing much of anything, let alone creative work. Usually, it’s hard to do anything else other than watch TV in a hazy stupor.
But creative work can activate your brain in a powerful way, even when your brain fog is turned up to 11. It seems so counterintuitive, but I’ve found it to be a powerful way to fight back against brain fog in the moment.
The next time you struggle with brain fog and fatigue, try taking a break from your work, and force yourself to be creative for a little while. Writing is what works for me. But the medium doesn’t matter. You can write, paint, draw, take photos, make music, or any other artistic, or creative endeavor.
If your normal work is creative work, try breaking up your routine and create something different, or work on a different task.
It’s very difficult to force yourself to be creative on a bad brain fog day, but after 10-20 minutes, you will very likely find yourself in a creative flow that cuts right through the fog. It’s a powerful tool.
These tactics won’t be the be all end all against brain fog, but having a toolkit to fight back in the moment is important. Because there will come a day when brain fog will get in the way of work that needs to be finished, or responsibilities that cannot be avoided.
And when that day comes, I want you to know that you are not alone. I’m right there in the trenches with you. We all are. Fighting together with whatever tools are within reach.