Self-management

Lifestyle and home remedies

You can take steps to ease chemo brain symptoms on your own. For instance, try to:

  • Control what you can about your working environment. If noise and commotion are contributing to your distraction, try to find a quiet corner where you can concentrate. Soft music may help drown out other noises.
  • Prepare yourself for success. Before tackling a complicated task that requires concentration, take steps to ensure that you will have the best chance for success. Eat so you won't be distracted by hunger. Pick a time of day when you'll be the most alert. Get a good night's sleep. Have a plan so you know exactly what you'll need to do in order to complete your task.
  • Stay organized. Use calendars or planners to keep on task. That way you won't spend time wondering if you're forgetting an appointment or an item on your to-do list. Write everything down in your planner. Make organization a priority at home and at work, too. Having an organized work space means you can spend more time on tasks that you need to accomplish.
  • Clear your mind of distractions. When distracting thoughts pop up, write them down in your planner. Recording your thoughts will help to quickly clear them and ensure that you remember them later.
  • Take frequent breaks. Divide your tasks into manageable portions and take a break each time you complete one part. Give yourself a short rest so that you'll be able to continue later.
  • Exercise your brain. Try crossword puzzles or number games to exercise your brain. Take up a new hobby or master a new skill, such as learning to play a musical instrument or learning a language.
  • Exercise your body. Moderate exercise, such as brisk walking, can help you cope with stress, fatigue and depression. All can contribute to memory problems. If you haven't been active lately, get the OK from your doctor first.

Coping and support

Chemo brain symptoms can be frustrating and debilitating. With time, you'll find ways to adapt so that concentration will become easier and memory problems may fade. Until then, there are ways to cope. Try to:

  • Understand that memory problems happen to everyone. Despite your best strategies for dealing with your memory changes, you'll still have the occasional lapse. It happens to everyone. While you may have little control over the cancer-treatment-related memory changes, you can control other causes of memory lapses that are common to everyone, such as being overly tired, distracted or disorganized.
  • Take time each day to relax. Stress can contribute to memory and concentration problems. Devote time each day to stress-relief activities, such as exercise, listening to music, meditation or writing in a journal.
  • Be honest with others about your symptoms. Be open and honest with the people who are close to you about your chemo brain symptoms. Explain your symptoms and also suggest ways friends and family can help. For instance, you might ask a friend to remind you of plans by both phone and email.
Jan. 15, 2016
References
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