Although the major symptoms of fibromyalgia are widespread pain and chronic fatigue, many individuals report a feeling of confusion and forgetfulness. This feeling is often referred to as the “fibro fog”. The cause of these cognitive difficulties is unknown, but may be attributable to the sleep disturbances often experienced by individuals with fibromyalgia.
Here are some steps to alleviate your “fibro fog” symptoms:
1. Make a habit - Establish easy to remember routine for everyday tasks. For example, if you are constantly losing your phone, make a habit of putting your phone on the charger as soon as you walk in the door from getting home. Or if you are constantly late to appointments, set an alarm for when you need to leave.
2. Make a schedule - If you are having difficulty remembering to complete tasks, make a list or schedule. Use a planner to make note of any special events during the day, like appointments or meetings. Use a daily schedule to keep yourself on track.
8:00 a.m. - eat breakfast
8:45 a.m. - watch television
9:15 a.m. - exercise
10:00 a.m. - rest
3. Try yoga - Yoga concentrates on gentle movement, deep breathing, and relaxation. It can be extremely beneficial for individuals with fibromyalgia. By decreasing stress, you may notice a decrease in your anxiety and confusion. You may even find that you are able to relax and get better sleep.
Yoga can easily be modified to meet the ability and skill level of the individual. Maybe fibromyalgia patients find that, with time they are able to move from the easiest of poses to complex moves like headstands.
For beginners the following poses are often most beneficial:
- Child’s Pose
- Legs up the wall inversion
- Mountain pose
- Standing forward fold
- Warrior One
- Cobbler’s Pose
4. Get some sleep - Evaluate your sleep environment. Is there excessive noise (maybe from a snoring partner), is the room too dark or is the temperature uncomfortable? Establish a bedtime routine that includes time for relaxation.
5. Get regular exercise - Exercise re-establishes the natural balance of neurochemical in the brain. It also facilitates the release of mood-enhancing hormones (endorphines), which triggers a happy feeling in the body. In addition, exercise can improve balance, reduce stress, increase strength, control weight, and reduce pain
6. Tease your brain - Exercise your brain to decrease memory loss and confusion. Sharpen your mental skills with games, such as Scrabble, chess, checkers, and bridge. By activating your brain with logic and strategic thinking, you may be able to lift yourself out of the fog.
7. Limit caffeine intake - Many of us drink caffeinated drinks every day, such as soda, tea, or coffee. Caffeine is a stimulant that enters the bloodstream and activates the central nervous system. For individuals with fibromyalgia, even a small amount of caffeine can have a serious impact. Caffeine can cause anxiety, insomnia, and depression.
8. Add magnesium to your diet - A magnesium deficiency may contribute to both the pain and cognitive difficulties found in fibromyalgia patients. Magnesium levels can be increased through the intake of green vegetables, beans, and whole grains. In addition, it may be taken in pill form.
9. Try acupuncture - Acupuncture is the practice of inserting needles into the skin at certain areas of the body. Gently twisting or manipulation of the needles may cause the release of endorphins into the bloodstream. Endorphins are the body’s natural pain relievers and as such individuals with fibromyalgia may experience some pain relief with the practice of acupuncture.
10. Get a massage - Massage therapy encourages circulation in the muscles and can reduce the heart rate, relax muscles, and improve range of motion. After a massage, fibromyalgia patients may find that they are able to have more restful, deep sleep.
With proper care of your health, body and mind, you can deal with the cognitive difficulties associated with fibromyalgia.