enhancing your mood will help you to better cope with the
frustrations of the symptoms you are experiencing.
Consult your doctor
You may need treatment for anemia or
depression, both of which can exacerbate or mirror the symptoms of
chemo brain. Be sure to describe any abnormalities you are
experiencing that could be in whole or in part due to other
Allow yourself to take medications that can help you,
even if you are concerned with long term affects. Once the symptoms
of chemo brain diminish over time you can slowly withdraw from the
drugs. Possible medications to consider are:
which can help to improve mental focus, concentration and stamina
The recovery process form surgery, radiation and chemotherapy
can be legitimately exhausting. You may require extra sleep, which
is a key ingredient for clarity of the mind.
If you are not
sleeping well at night, ask your doctor for something to help.
you cannot sleep, relax.
Avoid caffeine and other stimulants in
If you feel the need to sleep in, try to allow yourself
to do so when you can.
Napping can really help, especially if you
need to function at your best later in the day or evening.
Making to do lists can really help you stay
focused, prioritize and keep track of what you have gotten done.
keep a small notebook with me at ALL times so I do not have to EVER
rely on my memory.
You may prefer to use a palm pilot that can
help you with both of the above as well as make it easier for you to
have all of your important contact numbers and your calendar with
you at all times.
Clean your desk, kitchen, and bedside table.
wherever you pile on too much stuff. The condition of your physical
space definitely affects your mental space. I clear off my desk at
the beginning of my workday. This reminds me of what I need to
address today and what I can safely put aside.
Double check. At
the beginning or end of the day re-read any logistical arrangements
you have made to check for accuracy.
You may not think this is possible but I for one have
had no choice but to do so. I have not been able to multi-task, or
balance too many clients with complicated projects.
complex tasks into simpler manageable actions
I have changed the
nature of my business for the time being in several specific ways (see
Working Chicks Tips).
My husband and I created a detailed
budget so we could determine the bare minimum I needed to contribute
to stay solvent for this period of time. We consulted a financial
advisor recommended by our clergy who helped us consolidate and make
a financial plan based on our current situation
negotiating your hours at your job or possibly to work at home part
or full time so you can work at the times that you are at your best.
If this is impossible, at least cut yourself some slack. Stop
over-achieving for a while and just do what you have to.
ALL extra curricular commitments that are not based in selfless
relaxation or income producing. I had to eliminate my time consuming
organizational responsibilities. Once I found the courage to let
these things go I found great mental and physical relief.
Ask for help! From your co-workers, your friends,
your family and your church. You know you have been there for
others, now it is their turn! You will find that they all want to
help you but don't know what to do. So, tell them. For example:
While your neighbor is grocery shopping she could pick up a list for
you. Maybe even the same list weekly for a while.
dates for your kids and explain that you may not be able to
reciprocate for a while. Your friends can watch your child while
they are watching their own without even blinking.
you do at home every day and delegate some new jobs to your spouse
and your kids.
If you haven't done so before, hire some weekly
cleaning help, at least for a while.
Let your clergy or support
group know what you are going through. They can be an endless source
of strength as well as practical solutions.
Remove Stress and create harmony
A stress-free environment can
help you feel more serene and stay focused.
At work, if you cannot
create silence try white noise, tapes of the ocean or birds really
help me. Use earphones if you need to.
At home try shutting the
door to your room until you have accomplished the task at hand.
Breathe deeply, breathing exercises will relax your body while the
increased oxygen will stimulate your brain
To relax, consider
formal training in transcendental meditation or yoga. Or try a
guided meditation with tapes that will keep your mind from straying.
Use it or lose it
Keep challenging your brain.
puzzles and games, read, write in a journal or compose e-mails or
letters to friends.
Challenge yourself to a 30 day journaling and
Control what you can
And let go of what you can't control.
Learn to let go of the things that don't matter. If you delegate and
things are not done as you would have done them, be glad that they
If you have a to do list that includes things that do
not NEED to be done today, this week or this year, file it far away
for future reference. Release yourself from the need to clean the
garage or paint the gutters. for now.
Eat sensibly and regularly. Keeping your energy level
constant will help you stay even-tempered and evenly balanced.
Chewing can be a stress release, try carrots, celery or gum
Complex carbohydrates, such as whole grains, nuts and legumes, can
help to release the chemical serotonin, which is associated with
stress reduction and has a calming effect on the brain.
caffeine and nicotine, which are both anxiety inducing.
Stay as active as you can.
improves your mental attitude and increase oxygen and blood flow to
the brain, which can help with mental clarity
exercise class or tape can also help challenge your brain to stay
focused while following the directions. I joined Curves, an easy and
repetitive program that works me out, makes me focus and is up beat.
Links for more information and useful resources:
Cancerlifecenter.com This is the site for Ortho
Biotech. Click on Side effects of Chemotherapy and then click on all
the side bar topics.
Cancer.org This is the American Cancer Society's
home page. Scroll down and click on IN MY COMMUNITY. This will take
you to the message board and you can type in chemo brain.
CancerSymptoms.org Click on
symptoms, click on cognitive dysfunction.
Curvesinternational.com This site can direct you
to an exercise program near you.
More Chemo Brain articles:
about a Chemo Brain Day of Jana's
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