Got ‘brain fog?’ You’re not alone

CBS4 This Morning

INDIANAPOLIS For more than a year, life has been turned upside down for so many people.

The monotony of working from home, social isolation, limited outdoor and interpersonal interactions–all done in the name of safety. But it turns out all that lack of stimulation may be coming at a price.

Complaints of brain fog have been on the rise, including by many people who haven’t had COVID-19.

Brain fog is often characterized by decreased attention or memory problems. Kendra Thomas, University of Indianapolis assistant professor of psychology, describes it as the “sort of fuzzy head feeling you get after a really bad night’s sleep.”

For those who rarely leave their home, living the past year staring at the same walls, the same desk, the same computer screen with limited interaction could be fueling the feeling. Brain fog may also be a sign of “burnout.”

However, Thomas says there are ways to help snap out of a fog–the most prominent being stimulation.  

“That’s one of the ways you can try to get out of it, seeking stimulating action. Whether it’s a book, a social interaction that keeps you in the moment. Sometimes these online stimulation interactions, they can serve some purpose, but they don’t ground you in the way that real time interactions can have,” Thomas said.

Thomas suggests adding a new routine, taking a daily break to get out of your home, setting alarms to break up your day, changing the art on your walls or brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand to break out of it.

“The brain is always developing and always responding to the environment, and so tweaking the environment, adding the alerts, more interactions, changing the day, being outside more, is now a lot more possible in Indiana.”

For those who were diagnosed with COVID-19, brain fog has been a commonly reported lingering symptom. If you find yourself in that category, it may be something you need to discuss with a health professional. But for those without a diagnosis who find themselves in a “foggy malaise,” it’s possible adding stimulation to your day may help.

“If you talk to a psychologist, or a mental health professional, even your neighbor, you’ll realize it’s something a lot of people are dealing with,” Thomas said.

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