Chemo brain commonly involves cognitive changes including trouble remembering names, difficulty concentrating or paying attention, lapses in short-term memory and being forgetful.
It is important to know you’re not alone and that lots of people living with cancer suffer from the side effects of chemo brain. Many of you responded to our news story on chemo brain saying “Nice to read I am not on my own” and “I thought it was just me.”
Any kind of yoga or mindfulness practices such as sitting or walking meditation can improve your ability to pay attention. Mindfulness exercises can help you to identify, tolerate and reduce difficult feelings and give you some control. They can also help improve your mental wellbeing and memory retention which can make you sleep better reducing forgetfulness. We’ve even written an article with 5 easy mindfulness exercises to get you started.
Cognitive practices such as crosswords, sudoku and jigsaw puzzles can help to help to strengthen your mental ability. You can find these in your local paper, in a puzzle book or online. A group of researchers found that 40 minutes a day, 4 times a week for 15 weeks resulted in a significant improvement of these cognitive symptoms, showing that online exercises helped toreduce the patient’s experience of chemo brain.
Moderate Physical Exercise
Memory and decision-making abilities have been shown to improve after mild to moderate physical exercise. A good place is start is a gentle midday walk. Be careful if you are fatigued and always check with your medical health team about the best form of exercise for you.
Ask For Support
Don’t be afraid to tell people and ask for support. Ask your friends, family and medical treatment team to repeat information or write down new information. Record important conversations so you can listen to them again to fill in the areas that you may have forgotten.
Work On Your Strengths
Remember what you do well! And then build on these areas – whether it’s cooking, playing board games or telling stories. This will help develop your concentration levels and your memory while doing something you enjoy.
One final thing to remember – it’s simple but true – you probably notice your problems much more than others do. So try to be confident and honest with people around you when you’re struggling, so you can get through the “brain fog” together.