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MS & Cognitive Health

By Daryl H. Bryant (574 words)
Posted in Living with MS on January 31, 2020

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MS & Cognitive Health

Of all the symptoms associated with multiple sclerosis, cognitive challenges may be among the most frustrating. MS can mean more than a little brain fog. Symptoms can include challenges processing information or concentrating, memory issues, changes in visual perception, and even trouble finding the right word. 

You deserve to be at your personal best every day. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to boost your brain function. Here are five tips for improving your mental abilities. 

Eat for Mental Health

Diet plays an essential role in both physical and mental health, and getting the right nutrients can boost brain health. Eat healthy fats such as tuna and salmon, and include plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables. You can also take supplements such as NeuroActiv6 and MitoQ, which can help with brain function and other MS symptoms. Lastly, drink plenty of water; dehydration can lead to brain fog and other mental challenges. 

If you struggle with eating nutritious meals, try creating a meal plan, and then prepping 3-5 meals in advance. If you’re having an “off” day, you can simply grab a balanced meal from your fridge or freezer and reheat. 

Play Mind Games 

Your body isn’t the only thing that that needs a workout - your mind does too! Games and exercises that engage your mind can help you stay sharp. Reading, journaling, crossword puzzles, Sudoku, and even certain apps can help boost your brainpower. Make exercising your brain a daily habit, and you’ll feel more confident in your mental power.  

Get - and Stay - Organized 

A cluttered life can lead to a clumsy brain. Organize your home and your schedule to ensure that your mind is clear to focus on the important tasks at hand. 

Here are some simple steps to help you stay organized: 

  • Buy a calendar or planner and use it to note all appointments

  • Jot down daily tasks in a notebook or an app

  • Set alarms and reminders on your phone to help you remember important tasks

  • Lay out clothes, medications, and supplements the day before

Creating routines and staying organized can help you stay on top of daily duties even if you’re feeling a bit “fuzzy”. 

Focus Your Attention 

The inability to focus can be one of the most frustrating - and embarrassing - aspects of the mental challenges that come with MS. Brain teasers, eating well, and proper hydration will all help. However, one of the most important ways to focus your attention is to take away distractions. Concentrate on one task at a time; jumping from task to task can lead to mental exhaustion. Turn off the television and shut out other distractions or background sounds - noise-canceling headphones can help in loud situations. 

Meditation and mindful breathing are also great ways to develop better focus. There are many apps and YouTube channels that offer guided meditation and breathing. Just a few minutes a day can create significant mental improvement.  

Take a Break

It can be extremely frustrating when brain fog settles in. If you’re struggling to concentrate, or finding a mental task to be overly challenging, take a break. Give yourself permission to “rest and reset”. Often, taking a quick break can help the brain relax and will provide the mental boost you need. 

MS doesn’t mean you’re resigned to a life of brain fog and confusion. With the right strategies in place, you can keep your mind sharp and focused. 

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