Having had a number of my business coaching clients experience COVID-19 and then talk to me about their brain fog (those who have had babies say it’s similar to ‘Baby Brain’) I thought I’d do a bit of research for them on how best to manage this. After all, when you are in a small business, you still need to try and function. That’s hard if you’re finding it hard to focus on necessary tasks, confusion, forgetfulness or a challenge remembering things, zoning out or difficulty paying attention. Not a great thing to experience when you’re running a business (or for that matter, living your life).
Brain fog is not a medical condition, and I should say here, I am not a medical practitioner. My tips here are natural, practical and are strategies to help you manage this fog. In my research of this subject, what did concern me is that for some people, COVID-19 Brain Fog can last as long as 6 months! Now I should say the average person gets over their fog by around month 3. However, this isn’t a short period of time, so just taking that time off may not be an option.
So hence, here are my practical tips to manage this COVID-19 brain fog:
1. Alert your GP of your symptoms if you have/had COVID, especially if they are lingering.
This might be about energy, breathing, a persistent cough or any brain fog you’re experiencing. Remember many practices are now using tele health so you may not have to go into the practice. First and foremost, follow their advice and guidance … the following are supplemental, somewhat natural and very practical. Remember that brain fog can be a sign of other things, not just the residual effect of COVID – so talking to your doctor is definitely wise.
2. Rest and allow yourself (without guilt) to rest.
Stressing out or pushing yourself too hard won’t help the situation and won’t help your own mental health. You’ve had COVID – you are not at 100% so allow your body (and mind) to get over it.
3. Consider what you can put aside.
Look at your daily tasks and what can be put to the side. This is also why it’s wise to get ahead when you’re well and you have time. I am months ahead on my blogging, so I know if I had to pause that for a bit, that’s fine.
4. Keep a record of when the fog is worse in the day.
From this, you will ascertain your ideal times to slot in work, and times when you just don’t schedule in anything, and especially anything important to mentally challenging. If you can identify your ‘triggers’ (what makes you worse) that is even better, as obviously you’ll avoid those triggers. For example – if you have a ‘big day’ say Monday, and feel drained, tired and foggy on Tuesday, then that’s a message that overdoing it won’t help you long term.
5. When you do need to keep functioning and doing things, work in small blocks.
If you are best when you’re fresh in the morning, then schedule anything important or mental tasks for the morning. Also, be sure to only work in small blocks of time; for some, it may be only a half hour, for others they might manage 2 hours; so what you feel works best for you. It may even be a case of starting small and building yourself up gradually as you feel you are coping.
6. Don’t multitask.
This actually is something which I provide as a tip for ideal time management when I’m business coaching my clients. We are less effective when we try to do multiple things at once. Often nothing gets done well. With brain fog, the results are even worse. Do one thing at a time, complete it and then move on to the next.
7. Reminders in your phone, or on apps that you use (like Trello, Microsoft Tasks or a CRM) will help you keep on top of important activities, appointments or tasks.
Setting those reminders with alerts will ensure you don’t forget. Use technology to your advantage.
8. Notes are your friend, as are checklists as these types of tools help you to ‘remember’ things as you go or ensure you don’t forget steps.
Notes and checklists are great in business even at the best of times and make for consistent business where things don’t get forgotten due to distraction or busyness.
9. Break down tasks into bite-size chunks.
This is a great strategy to avoid overwhelm and especially great if you’re experiencing brain fog. It’s also a great strategy if you are somewhat of a procrastinator. Having small easy to manage chunks makes getting a task overall done quicker. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. But please, no elephant eating : )
10. Consider delegating.
If you have staff then consider what can be delegated. Smart business owners will always cross train their staff so that no one person only knows a single task. That same philosophy should apply to the business owner; making no-one (including the owner) indispensable.
11. Avoiding alcohol, smoking and drinking coffee is always good for your body and particularly good for reducing some of your brain fog.
Rather than having a tenth coffee for the day, consider instead an earlier night … which leads me to my next point.
12. Sleep – always golden regardless of how healthy or unwell you are.
However, when you’re fighting a bug, or recovering from an illness, your body needs to rest so getting enough sleep (aiming for 7-8 hours a night) is ideal. Again, avoiding caffeine in the afternoon, or blue screens (like an iPad) at bedtime will help improve sleep patterns.
13. My research indicated that aerobic exercise is great for brain fog, but remember you’ve been unwell, so don’t overdo it.
Everyone is different; listen to your body and don’t over extend yourself.
14. Exercise your brain by doing brain games, crosswords, brainteasers, which all stimulate the mind.
Even try doing things which feel unnatural, like brushing your teeth with the hand you don’t normally use. Try it – It’s actually harder than you’d think.
15. Diet and nutrition also play a big part in good health.
Eat well, get a balanced and healthy diet with lots of green vegetables.
16. Good quality vitamins should be considered, especially fish oil Omega 3 which helps with brain function, motor skills and vision.
Personally, if I’m feeling under the weather, then absolutely Vitamin C is a must. In winter, if I’m not getting enough sun, then I’ll add a little vitamin D to my regiment. Magnesium also showed up in my research … but again, take anything according to the instructions or via your doctor’s advice.
17. Do things which interest you and which you will look forward to.
Those activities might include listening to music, art and painting, reading or socialising.
As I said, I’m not a doctor or mental health professional, but I know as an experienced business coach that as a business owner, we are often set challenges and I’m about finding solutions to those challenges. I hope these tips have been useful for you and wish you all the best with your future business activities – and quick recovery from COVID Brain. If you are interested in learning more about my Business Coaching, Leadership Mentoring, or Life Coaching services, please reach out to my contact page. If you’d like to know more about quality vitamins and the Usana range, click here.