How to Beat Brain Fog

By Wendy Caroline

As I sat down to write my column for this week, a massive wave of writer’s block hit me. This has been plaguing me for a while. Great timing, right?!

I started five different column pieces, each of which I would get a solid start on, and then nothing. I stopped understanding where the piece was going and didn’t like any of the words that I was writing. A few years ago, I started developing chronic fatigue. It started slowly, then quickly snowballed. In the past year, it has developed into brain fog. Very frustrating. I love using my brain for writing, reading, problem-solving, and critical thinking. It increasingly feels like cystic fibrosis is taking all these parts of my personality away from me. So here I am today, compiling a list of some tips and tricks that I use to combat brain fog and feel a little more like myself.

1. Don’t force it.

I can’t tell you how many times I have blocked my own brain by trying to force my way through brain fog. “Just do it.” How many times have we heard that? Unfortunately, at least for me, if I “just do it” and try to force myself to work through the brain fog, it just puts up more blocks. Then I get frustrated, and all I can think about is how I can’t think. It just spirals from there.

Cool, so how do you get past brain fog and still make your deadlines (because if you’re forcing it, that’s often why)? Be ahead of the game. I am guilty of this not being a natural instinct. In fact, I’m still learning how to do this. I used to be a procrastinator. I would thrive under the stress. My brain fog does not. Now I start writing and drafting at least a week before.

2. Get inspired.

One of the best ways to get inspired is to look to others. CF News Today columnist Brad Dell’s latest piece about brain fog directly inspired this post. It got me thinking about my own experience with brain fog, and how I have been insanely frustrated by its hold on my life. Find a piece of other people’s lives or the world around you that makes you think about your own. Capture it and go. I find that making a note of these inspirations in a note-taking app on my phone really helps because brain fog causes forgetfulness.

2. Create the mood.

Ditch the phone and whatever other fancy gizmos that cause a distraction. Find the type of environment that makes you feel inspired and ready to work. For me, that’s open space with lots of natural light and structured seating.

Next, put on some music — music that is going to make you focus and productive. My go-to is this Classical Essentials playlist on shuffle. This helps me drown out enough thoughts that I won’t get distracted without drowning out the thoughts that I need to work. Whatever you listen to, just make sure it doesn’t have words.

It’s also important to get your brain in the right mood. My brain fixates on chores and tasks that need doing, so I always make sure to get those done before I sit down to write. Also yoga and meditation, that’s some great stuff.

4. Let it flow.

A friend of mine gave me this very useful tip. Just let the words flow out of you, even if you don’t like them. When I use this technique, I have to write everything my heart desires and then walk away. Don’t reread it right then. You will get frustrated. Instead, write all you can and come back to it after you’ve had a solid break. For me, this is usually the next day. Your rough work can have a really good base but just needs to be re-worked.

I know that these tips and tricks are focused on writing, but I use the general ideas in all aspects of my life. Whether it is work, family, friends, or hobbies, brain fog can affect every aspect of your life. It’s one of the reasons that I haven’t been very active on any of my social media platforms — Instagram, YouTube, Facebook, and even my blog. As my brain fog developed into almost a daily issue, I took a step back and prioritized what I needed to focus on first. I truly believe that as these steps of beating brain fog become a habit, I will be able to handle more. Hopefully, you’ll see me around the internet again real soon.

» Find me on the internet at The Living, Breathing Wendy «

This article was originally published on CF News Today.

This content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

College and CF – Spring 2018 Scholarship Recipient Guest Blog

By: Holly Beasley

Approaching college while living with Cystic Fibrosis can be undoubtedly frightening. Although, great challenges bring great rewards. This is what I have come to learn during my time at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. While I am only a sophomore at the university currently, I hope the knowledge I have gathered through my journey thus far will serve to touch others with CF.

I believe that living with Cystic Fibrosis requires honesty with yourself and others. Therefore, I must be completely honest with you regarding the college experience while living with CF. I do not aim to discourage but to instead challenge you to prevail. I think a unique strength was placed within all of us with Cystic Fibrosis to surmount any challenge that presents itself in our lives. One of these being college, if you so choose.

College with Cystic Fibrosis will certainly not always be easy. As you may know, sick days, lengthy therapy routines, and hospitalizations come with the territory. Combine all of this with the pursuit of higher education and one can become overwhelmed. Balance and prioritization become key in the life of a college student with CF. I know I have spent countless nights reading my textbook while my Vest was simultaneously shaking my lungs. There have also been times when I completed assignments while lying in my hospital bed. This is where balance comes in to play. Finding a system that makes time for both school and health care is crucial, but I want you to be certain that it is also achievable. Despite some extra setbacks and effort, I finished reading all of those pages in my textbook and an assignment has yet to be turned in late. Now, this is where prioritization becomes a major factor. In order to be an efficient student, your health must come first. If doing both becomes too taxing on your body, please remember that it is ok to give yourself a break from school. This has been a difficult lesson for me to learn as a student who always strives for perfect grades. The times I have put school before my health, it has never worked in my favor. I only became sicker, causing a worse impact on my academic performance than if I would have taken the time to recover initially. Carving an hour or so out of my day for therapy when I first noticed signs of sickness would have been much easier than the eventual hospitalizations that resulted from the neglect of this fact. Always put your health first. The aspirations you are seeking through your college journey can only become a reality if you are alive and well to participate in these realized dreams.

All of this may seem rather challenging. So how does all of this ultimately become rewarding? Well, that is entirely up to you. I’d like to give some insight on how this process has rewarded me, personally. This might be the same reasoning that inspires you to pursue higher education or you might have a unique drive that motivates you. Either way, hone in on this sense of why it is all worth it.

Each day attending college rewards me because it serves as a constant reminder that I am equally as capable as anyone without Cystic Fibrosis. We are all different and many of us have encountered at least some degree of a setback in our lives. Mine just happens to be Cystic Fibrosis, but I can work with this along-side my peers. One classmate may have had a parent pass away, another battled a different disease or any other challenge that life may present. Yet, we can all come together in one classroom in order to learn and grow as equals. College allows me to reflect on the fact that the circumstances life presented me with do not define me as lesser. Instead, they exist to strengthen me so that I may become more. Life with Cystic Fibrosis has not been easy and this has never been truer than in my time at college. As I sit here now, I can still honestly say that I am happy to have Cystic Fibrosis. We are forced to realize how special we truly are when challenged by this disease. Yes, I have experienced setbacks and hard times while in college. They have not defeated me and they will not defeat you. At times, I may have to exert extra effort because of my CF. The reward of knowing that I got the job done regardless is much greater than any challenge that college or Cystic Fibrosis may introduce.

Pushing the envelope promising for patients

http://www.theherald.com.au/story/4762046/pushing-the-envelope-promising-for-patients/

A HUNTER-based fitness study looking at the effects of interval training on children with cystic fibrosis is achieving some “outstanding” results, a local exercise physiologist says. Continue reading Pushing the envelope promising for patients

USACFA Scholarship Opens June 1st 2017-June30th for Fall 2017!

Please share with young adults who would be interested and qualified!

The United States Adult Cystic Fibrosis Association (USACFA) is excited to offer the Lauren Melissa Kelly Scholarship award for the Fall semester 2017. The scholarship will range from $1500 to $2500 and be awarded to adults with cystic fibrosis who are pursuing career certifications, associates, and bachelor’s degrees.

Continue reading USACFA Scholarship Opens June 1st 2017-June30th for Fall 2017!

Please Join Us for a Free Private Screening of Up for Air at CUMC

Please join us for a FREE private film screening of
UP FOR AIR

Tuesday, May 9, 2017
6:00 – 8:00 PM

Reception followed by screening and Q & A with Jerry Cahill and the film’s Continue reading Please Join Us for a Free Private Screening of Up for Air at CUMC

From Sustaining and Surviving – to Living!

By Andrea Eisenman

Seventeen years ago I was just going through the motions of trying to keep pushing towards each day with a schedule of treatments, eating, napping, lung bleeds and more treatments. Then starting all over again the following day with Continue reading From Sustaining and Surviving – to Living!

Up For Air is Available for Rent/Purchase

Up For Air, The Inspirational Award-winning Documentary Available for Rent/Purchase

We are excited to announce that the award-winning Up For Air documentary featuring BEF ambassador and 60-year-old pole-vaulting coach living with CF, Jerry Cahill, is now available to rent and purchase on Vimeo. Watch the full movie here:
https://vimeo.com/ondemand/upforair.

About Up For Air
The film, directed and produced by Artem Agafonov, was shot over a period of five years, highlighting the “lead by example” and “you cannot fail” attitude of Jerry Cahill as he overcomes the daily challenges of living with CF. Viewers will understand the importance of Jerry’s role as a coach and mentor to pole-vaulting athletes, as well as the sobering reality of Jerry’s daily medical regimen.

The documentary follows the steady decline of Jerry’s lung function, framing his body as a defective machine and pegging time as his ultimate antagonist. When Jerry’s lung capacity decreases to 19 percent, a double lung transplant becomes imminent.

Up For Air gives viewers a glimpse into Jerry’s journey as he transforms and vaults over the many obstacles of this next chapter of his life.

Learn more about Up For Air here.

Making it Matter Ep. 16

Making it Matter Ep. 16 – Football and Cystic Fibrosis

Making it Matter this week is Matt Mitchell, a freshman in college with cystic fibrosis, who joins the podcast today to talk about his career as a football player. Matt was a stand out player in high school at Joy Christian Continue reading Making it Matter Ep. 16

Gastroparesis and Cystic Fibrosis – By Meranda Sue Honaker

By Meranda Sue Honaker

Gastroparesis (delayed gastric emptying) is a common complication for many with CF; however, the condition is exceptionally hard to treat due to lack of promotility agents in the United States. In my early 20’s I began to experience Continue reading Gastroparesis and Cystic Fibrosis – By Meranda Sue Honaker

Making it Matter Podcast – CF Nutrition

Making it Matter Podcast Ep. 10 – CF Nutrition

Nutrition is something I love to talk about (well…. ever since I got my feeding tube placed in 2011). It is a vital part of CF care, something that Julia and I approach differently. While my pancreas doesn’t seem to work, Julia knows she is Continue reading Making it Matter Podcast – CF Nutrition