You know the feeling. You open the cabinet to put the milk away. Maybe you call your kid the wrong name. You might be wondering why you came into this room. Maybe you blow on your ice cream when it’s too cold. We all experience it: absent-mindedness. It’s mental confusion, a loss of bearings, and it’s okay. You are not alone. Maybe you feel concerned with the growing number of instances. That can be tough. Let’s walk that road together for a moment.
What Causes Absent-mindedness?
Absent-mindedness or brain fog can be caused by a number of things. We blame age of course. Ever hear of AAADD? Age-Activated-Attention-Deficit-Disorder. Okay, it’s not a real diagnosis, but it sure feels real! Stress is another factor along with busyness. It can bring confusion and slow us down. Add first responder life, trauma, family or work drama, medical or mental ailments, and you’ve got it worse.
So much contributes to absent-mindedness. We zone out with so much on our minds that we either think too much or go blank altogether. Sometimes we hyper focus on certain things so that we forget other things. We get ‘caught up’ on a task and forget a deadline or an appointment. Our brains can only handle so much. We need to loosen the clutter. So, how do we do that?
How to Help Yourself
Start by forgiving yourself. It’s okay to not be okay or to feel a bit lost sometimes. Give yourself permission to have those ‘senior’ moments (no matter your age.) If you can, laugh about it. Laughter is medicine for the soul. Forgiveness is the best first step in helping yourself through brain fog or absent-mindedness, so forgive yourself. Do it early and do it often. That’s step one.
The other ‘steps’ are basically good habits. List things: groceries, household shopping, birthday items, daily tasks, appointments, or phone calls to make. Writing things down is half the battle to remember. Keep lists in the same place. If it’s on your phone, well, don’t lose your phone. Keeping your list, or lists, in the same place means not misplacing it.
Next item: routine. Keep a routine and stick to it. Morning rituals like stretching or drinking water can take little time but trigger the right start to the day. Nightly rituals might be as simple as writing in a journal to put down the day so it doesn’t follow you to bed. Put things like keys and wallets in the same place so you’re not looking everywhere for them.
Lastly, keep a schedule. Setting alarms helps, but be sure to set them a little early in case you’ve forgotten the thing they’re for until the alarm goes off. You don’t want to stress by rushing. Your schedule might be super simple, like, ‘eat, call friend, get mail.’ It might be much more complicated though, so having a schedule is key to keeping track of all that needs to be done in a day. You might even review the next day before turning in.
Support is vital. Whatever your goals, and coaches, ahem, will tell you this. You benefit from having someone keep you accountable. When you know someone is checking in, you’re more likely to follow through. Make sure that person has your best interest at heart and they’re a good cheering squad. No one likes a drill sergeant barking orders, at least most don’t. It’s also a good idea to have back-up in case you get stuck and can’t complete your to-dos on time. Build your village!
Keep It Up!
We’re all forgetful. It happens and we shouldn’t get down on ourselves because of it. Our lives are busier than our parents’ were. Stick to your day-to-day goals and take it one day at a time. Use your village, write those lists, form those habits, and start each day new. You’ve got this! Now what was I about to do…?