GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — Feeling more forgetful lately? Scattered? Like you've got too many balls up in the air? Well, hop on the brain fog band wagon. It's a real thing.
And we're all suffering from it. Part of it comes from something that we’re all required to do, multitasking
“So many people think they are great multitaskers, and can focus their attention here or there, and the truth of the matter is, we can only focus well on one thing at a time,” says Dr. Angie Buffington, neuropsychologist with Allina Health.
And you know what's better than one neuropsychologist? Two.
“It's better to do two things at once because we're seen as more productive, as contributing more, whether it be to work, or our families, but really the recommendation is to do one thing at a time if you can,” says Dr. Katherine Oddi, neuropsychologist with HealthPartners.
Yeah, we really wanted to drive that point home, and here's why; something actually happens inside our brains.
“Our brains have a lot of networks so – different parts of the brain communicate to other parts of the brain with these really fast networks that zip along quickly – and when we've got too many signals going in too many directions, it just feels like we can’t keep track of anything,” says Dr. Buffington.
And the stress, it releases hormones in our bodies, and those little buggers, well, they're not nice.
“When we have these high levels of stress hormones in our body, it can lead to problems with learning and memory. Whether that's trying to think of a word that we're trying to say, or if we stop mid-sentence and say what was I talking about?" explains Dr. Oddi.
“Stress hormones also impact our ability to pay attention and executive functioning skills, which is like planning ahead, being organized and being on top of everything,” she adds.
No big deal, it's only everything that's expected of us right now.
But, we can help ourselves.
“The number one tip for brain health is exercise, exercise, exercise, and it's not what most of us want to hear, but it is the most important factor in keeping our brains healthy,” says Dr. Buffington.
“Our brains need good quality sleep and enough sleep to function from day to day. And when we don't get enough sleep, we're even more forgetful, more disorganized, and more irritable," says Dr. Oddi.
Try to take some things off your plate. Can't do that? Then cut yourself some slack. And if you can, find any kind of schedule or routine, because, well, this is our lives. At least for now.
“Just embracing that, and knowing that you've got to restructure your life, and restructure your daily routine for the moment, can help you just accept that and help your brain be better at anticipating what's going to come next, so it doesn't feel so exhausting to try to navigate change every day,” says Dr. Buffington.