About 1 year ago the first cases of Covid 19 appeared in the UK. The effects of the disease have been devastating. Many patients experience the disease mildly, for the more severe cases, or those experiencing long COVID, there can be an affect on long term neurological health. How can technology help those who are struggling with their neurological health since contracting corona virus? What is available and how can it help.
It is important to look at what neurological symptoms patients are suffering from since contracting the virus. Commonly reported symptoms include, brain fog, inability to concentrate or focus, or longer-term headaches they hadn’t experienced had before and taste or smell not returning.
Some of the symptoms reported appear similar to chronic fatigue syndrome. In other patients it is hard to ignore the brain injuries caused by a greater number of post Covid strokes. Further research is being conducted to look at the link between stroke and Covid.
The advice from professionals for people experiencing brain fog and concentration issues can include general things that would help with your wellbeing such as, getting lots of rest, focusing your mind on dealing with the things that are distracting you, eating well, trying to get a little bit of exercise to the extent that you can, avoiding alcohol, avoiding medications that might cloud the way your brain works and also spending less time on your phone and at your computer.
How can technology help?
So how can we use technology to help us with brain fog and concentration if part of the solution is to spend less time on our phones and on our computers? If we think about it may be about how we use these technologies and how we can make them as useful to us as possible enhancing our lives rather than being a trigger for the symptoms.
How to use technology to reduce distractions rather than increase them ?
A common contributor to brain fog can be distractions, when we have lots of distractions its common to start feeling a bit overwhelmed, its important to acknowledge that a lot of these distractions can come from technology, whether its notifications, emails, social media these things can be a constant noise of background activity interrupting your day. Have a look at your device how can you make notifications more useful to you? What can you switch off? What would happen if you put your phone away for certain periods of time when you don’t want to be distracted?
Technology touches so much of our lives particularly during a pandemic. We are being asked to work or study from home via our computers. Children are taught online, we socialise over the phone or via zoom and not to mention all those hours spent watching Netflix for our entertainment. Whilst we are in lockdown its hard to see how we would benefit from breaking away from screens from time to time or how we would conduct our lives with less screen time. I think its not about removing screens or apps or our entertainment entirely but it is about designing our lives and our time so that we can have some downtime from the technology that we consume.
How to use technology to feel more rested
Getting a good nights sleep is essential to helping reduce the symptoms of brain fog and poor concentration. If you are a masterclass subscriber I would highly recommend Neuroscience professor Matthew Walker masterclass. Matthew teaches the science of sleep and how to optimise it to better your overall health. If improving your sleep is something you are interested in you might also be interested in the Oura ring which is a wearable that can help you find out what the sleeping and waking best pattern is for you and how your habits impact your health.
How to use technology to benefit our daily activity
Covid 19 and lockdowns have had a massive impact on how we access exercise with a lot more now accessible by technology than ever before, whether it is using a step tracker on your phone, using apps like strava, a virtual yoga class with a local instructor over zoom, PE with Joe Wicks, or an app with workouts there is now a multitude available to help keep people motivated whilst our gyms and leisure centres are closed. If you are struggling with long covid symptoms always consult a doctor before starting a new excercise program and take it slowly and gently focusing on what you can do.
How to use technology to reduce stress
Meditation can be highly beneficial to people suffering from headaches and brain fog Lucy Grimwade wrote an article for technology for good where she recommends some excellent excellent apps which can help you meditate like the headspace and calm app.
Think about the music that you are listening to, how does it make you feel ? Spotify has some excellent lists to help keep you calm and focused try the Spotify list brain food or neural development . There is also a specific sound type called “Brainwave entrainment” is a powerful audio technology that some say can completely change your mental state and can be an effective tools I’ve found to mitigate brain fog, you can check out some Brainwave entrainment here.
How to use technology to ensure you eat well
Eating healthily can also help reduce the symptoms of brain fog and poor concentration ensuring that you are eating enough of the right foods and that those foods are fuelling you well may help, it may help you to create a food diary to keep track of what and when you are eating and drinking, this may help identify and food triggers and help you make healthy choices for food. Two good food trackers include MyFitnessPal and MyNetDiary.
It can be overwhelming to think about shopping and cooking healthy food and this can be a bit of a barrier particularly if you are feeling fatigued. Consider how you can get your food delivered via online shopping or by using a meal delivery service such as Gousto, Mindful Chef or Hello Fresh this may help ease the barriers.
If you are actively suffering from brain fog due to the after effects of Covid 19, it’s important to understand that the ideas on this list are not meant to be a magic bullet and you should always consult a doctor rather than self diagnose.
It can seem a be a bit of trial and error to find what works for you to get to a place where you can actually notice improvement. Keeping brain fog at bay is an ongoing process that requires careful ongoing management to improve your quality of life however the benefits are very impactful and can enable you to do more of the things you want to do and feel more like your old self.
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