Have you experienced a sort of inexplicable lack of motivation, a touch of laziness, or an unidentifiable sort of brain fog over the past few weeks?
I know it’s not just me, because I have spoken with a number of friends and acquaintances recently who brought up the subject before I did. We feel like there’s a pillow in our heads, suffocating our normal functionality.
This is not like pregnancy brain, which occurs in many women because of the tremendous changes going on throughout her body. In that case, the best remedy is sleep.
And it’s not like hangover brain fog, in which the entire body feels like crap because you drank too much. In this case also, usually the best remedy is sleep.
At first, I thought it might be just one of those weird, lingering symptoms of the mild case of COVID-19 that I had over Christmas. A quick internet search reveals that’s a real thing, according to a number of neurologists.
I found a lengthy explanation on the Harvard University Health Blog. Dr. Andrew E. Budson started with this: “Brain fog is not a medical or scientific term; it is used by individuals to describe how they feel when their thinking is sluggish, fuzzy, and not sharp.” Exactly!
He said brain fog has been described as similar to jet lag, or unclear thinking while sick, or sluggishness from medications – all of which cleared up with time, rest and recovery.
But none of the other foggy folks I talked with had been infected with COVID. And that made me question if there’s something that’s just “in the air,” something we can’t quite identify, but recognize as an overall malaise.
Of course, we all could have serious neurological issues and not know it. It could be old age creeping up, or an underlying illness about to explode inside us.
More likely, though, it’s something far less dramatic. Based on comments I’ve heard, most of us who feel foggy have 100 things going on with work, family, chores, and our brains are just on overload and a little anxious.
I think I figured out what it is causing the fog.
The weather has been getting increasingly nicer since late February, azaleas started blooming in March, and here it is April and, though the pollen is choking us, we want to break free and get out into our community.
But at the same time, we feel stuck in the same sweats or yoga pants we’ve been wearing for a year. We can’t shake loose the hesitation (and sometimes fear) that has kept us in our homes, ordering groceries for delivery, binge watching Netflix because we were tired of the news.
Last spring, we felt as if we were under siege from an unknown enemy, and certainly we were. We might have enjoyed our own backyard, but we kept our distance even from family because we didn’t want to chance infection.
We learned a new craft, remodeled the bathroom, read volumes of books, worked 800 jigsaw puzzles, and taught the children how to play an instrument and do their own laundry.
Now, some restrictions are being lifted, lots of businesses have fully reopened, many folks have been vaccinated, and we feel a little more confident in once again getting together with family and friends – but we’re still hesitant.
Dr. Budson gave some suggestions for clearing brain fog, including aerobic exercise (walking, running, swimming), eating a healthful diet of mostly fruits and vegetables, getting enough sleep, and participating in social activities.
So, let’s do it! Let’s get back out there, gather safely and be social, and enjoy active life again. Maybe that’s just what the doctor ordered.