The aftereffects of COVID seem to be distinct for every 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. 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 continue, and hopefully, it won’t be permanent, but if you’re suffering from it, here are some Brainhacks to help you clear the fog and get your memory and brain back on track.
1. Reduce your stress with breathing exercises and meditation.
Many of our health problems, including brain fog, are caused by stress, which is an underlying issue. 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 is not intended to be experienced every day, all day, every day.
That is, unfortunately, what our modern civilization has produced. We’re waiting in traffic, reading angry social media messages, and worried about stacks of bills, and that non-stop stress is like a narcotic that negatively influences our brain and our 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 sucked 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 to 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 how you breathe affects your stress levels directly.
2. Get better sleep and stay on a routine.
Over 30 percent of Americans suffer from insomnia or sleep loss, according to the American Sleep Association. 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. With the light on late at night, our brain believes it is still sunlight. Melatonin levels are reduced as a result.
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 is not ineffective for safety concerns. Because it is an asleep trigger rather than a sedative, more is not better. You should always consult your doctor before taking melatonin.
3. Never stop learning.
The brain is a muscle, and just like any other muscle in the body, it gets 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.
You must constantly be learning if you want to avoid brain fog and get your memory and brain back on track. And every day has to be different. Yes, doing a Sudoku or crossword puzzle every night is fine, but your brain will ultimately adopt. 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 challenge your mind as well!
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. Farrow Communications makes brands unforgettable representing a diverse range of clients across industry sectors and global markets. Dave’s upcoming book, Brainhacker, which will help you to “rewire” your brain and boost its power, will be released later this year, and newly edited versions of his audiobooks, 3x Your Memory in One Hour and Superhuman Speed Reading, are currently available at Audible.com.
By Dave Farrow