'Brain fog'/ paralyzed/ can't concentrate: How do you cope?


#1

Hi everyone!

Is there anyone else who experiences periods of ‘brain fog’? It’s when your head is foggy, you feel paralyzed and cannot do anything. I often feel ‘stuck’ and cannot concentrate on ANYthing. I try to relax and sit or lie down for a few minutes, but it tends to take long periods of my day. How do you cope?

Thanks in advance for your stories/advice!
Kind regards
Alatariel


#2

All the time. I usually try to jump back and forth between activities I am in love with until something sticks, but sometimes that just ends up with me laying down watching youtube videos because nothing else works. :S

I don’t really have any helpful advice because I struggle with this, sorry! Hopefully someone will have some ideas for us. :smile:


#3

Hi, i have adhd too. Mine is considerably severe and i know exactly what you’re talking about. I used to get that randomly. During exams, in the car, anywhere really. I don’t really remember the last time i got that brain fog thing… but now i think i barely get them anymore since i started using music on my phone speaker as background noise. It’s like an anchor my brain can go back to and refocus


#4

Yes! I get that too. I used to have that all the time, like @Megat_Faris_Asyraf was saying, and while I didn’t make the link myself before, listening to music while I work is probably why I don’t get that as much as well. It’s like auditory fidgeting. Kinda. Maybe.

Sometimes I get it really bad, but not often. Happened last Friday for me, actually. I’d been thinking about one thing all day, and I was excited to work on it, and then halfway through the day I was told that I had another thing to worry about in the following week. That meant I had 4 things occurring over two days in the next week! Completely threw me off and I experienced ‘brain fog’, as you put it, for the rest of the day. It really annoyed me, because I had a lot I wanted to do that day but I couldn’t focus on anything so nothing got done after that. I was fine the next day, though, so hooray?

(Also, it took me wwwaaaaaaaayyyy too long to figure out that you said ‘brain fog’ and not ‘brain frog’. :laughing:)


#5

Oh my godddd i thought brain frog too hahaha @MachUPB

I LOVE THIS FORUM I LOVE OUR TRIBE


#6

And auditory fidgeting. I FEEL THAT. I really think it has the same effect as fidgeting


#7

It does. Fidgeting is a way of giving our floating attention something to do, and listening to music or some other background noise that isn’t distracting can occupy our floating attention.

Floating attention is that part of your brain that keeps an eye on other stuff in case a tiger is sneaking up on you or something like that, if you didn’t know. Without it, you wouldn’t know about the tiger and you’d be tiger chow.
These days, with fewer tigers around, it serves to mostly be a distraction.

Also, yes. We’ve got the best tribe. :smiley:


#8

All. The. Time. Sometimes it feels like I’m bored, but I’m not really bored, I just can’t focus on anything to do and so I sit around trying to think of something to do and just…not doing anything. I try listening to music that will get me up and moving or just getting up and walking around for a bit. Or stepping outside for a few minutes if I’ve been inside for a long time.

I was actually thinking about this yesterday, how that kind of executive dysfunction can be so frustrating…but I think our society puts TONS of pressure on us to always be doing something and maybe it’s okay to “fog up” and not do much of anything for a bit. Especially since ADHD-ers are generally really good with last minute, up-against-the-wall deadline pressure, it’s okay if you blow some things off to be foggy for a bit and then rush to get them done. And if you miss a deadline, it’s probably not really that big a deal (unless you really are a brain surgeon or rocket scientist).


#9

Ugh constantly. If I have to do something, I usually try to move around, like… dancing to a few songs I like, jumping jacks, going for a walk, etc. But I can’t say that’s helped me significantly, usually I just lose the day.

I hope you find a solution! It feels so crappy to get to the end of one of those days and realize you’ve done nothing productive. The biggest thing I suggest is to not be too hard on yourself about it. We’re all doing the best we can, and though there’s of course nothing wrong with seeking solutions, it doesn’t help anything to beat yourself up along the way. (Not that you’re necessarily doing that, but I do, so I thought it was worth saying in case you struggle with it too.)


#10

I get this too, but also found that I’ve sometimes mistaken “freeze” (from fight/flight/freeze) as fog in the past too. Became so much easier to manage what’s I identified that!


#11

I struggle with this.

I figured out that sometimes I can’t activate for ANYTHING because I’m not letting myself activate for the thing I want to do and am “not supposed to be doing.” Sometimes it works to just let myself zero in on the thing I WANT to zero in on, because doing what I want is better than torturing myself by doing nothing.

I also support what @MachUPB said about listing to music while working. Personally, I have ONE playlist that’s my “working” playlist. Actually, it’s not so much a playlist. It’s the mash up All Day by Girl Talk (EXPLICIT). If All Day is playing, I’m focused, and I don’t let myself listen to it when I’m not being productive.

Finally, I’d suggest exercise/going for a walk. Even if I’m not getting my heart rate up or trying to burn calories, going for a 20-30 minute walk in the sunshine can really help me ‘reset’ and get on track with something.

For me, the symptom of brain fog/paralysis/concentration problems is typically a “depressive” symptom, and I need to switch gears or get stimulated.


#12

I’m currently a junior in college and I’ve never been a good student. I often get that “brain fog” when I know I need to work on my homework. I’ll flip on Netflix or YouTube “for a bit” and then I’ll know I need to be productive and I usually want to be but I feel trapped in my own body- unable to control and and accomplish anything. As my grades have suffered, that inability to accomplish anything made me decide to see a therapist for what I concluded must’ve been mild depression. At the end of my first visit my counselor told me that he thought there was a high chance that I had undiagnosed ADHD. Now it’s a few months later, I do indeed have ADHD, and though sometimes I feel like medication can “thin the fog”, I don’t think we can ever truly clear the fog completely. We just need to get better at navigating through it.


#13

Yes. Absolutely. I keep having this foggy feeling in my head no matter what I do, unless I’m really in the flow because that’s when I don’t even think of it. Any other time, I can be really excited about starting an interesting task, but as soon as I sit down to do it, I go blank. And when I force myself to do it, it’s like the fog is made of rubber, slowing down every movement.

It’s interesting that so many here recommend music. I can definitely relate - I’ve often described listening to music as “giving the part of my brain that seeks a distraction something to play with while I do the work”. It doesn’t really help on my foggier days, though. (Which reminds me - I think I’ve listened to less music since I got my meds. Has anybody else experienced that?)

Breaking down a task into doable steps helps. Slowing down and taking breaks helps. (Even though it usually happens when I’m in a hurry to get something done. But if I frame it as a choice between wasting time looking at a screen and wasting time taking a walk, it makes sense.) I think the fog is connected with the task of making decisions. Lots of little decisions go into any task and each one affects the next one. Even worse: Often two decisions affect each other and I can’t get a hold of where to start. That’s when I fog up. Anything that lowers the decisionmaking threshold helps.


#14

might be cliche… but just today i got some sort of a brain fog/panic attack/“why isnt this thing working?” syndrom. and i stunbled upon the old youtube video by howtoadhd “eveything is on fire and i dont know what to do” (i think thats how its called?) adn remmbered i actually did a checklist for thing that help. so here is mine

water (drink intill you feel you cant anymore. it will release satiation homones and calm you tha fuck down)
eat (meat preferably. but anything worm + slow digesting can work)
orginize EVERYTHING. intill you can say “huh… yea i can wake up to this.”
shower ( i do cold showers. they help. ALOT!)
music. (put on some daft punk. well. i put on some daft punk. also mozart. and AC/DC… i listen to alot of stuff xD)
do somting from a checklist (hi look at that you already did… ha…)
did you take some medication? maybe you are in a comedown phase? (here i have a reference to another checklist…)

hope you got the idea :smiley:


#15

You mean those times were you’re trapped in room mind going from thought to thought and can’t do anything? I like to call it brain prison! Those times I just tend to stare at a wall or pass back and forth and half the time I don’t realize it’s happening until it’s already been like a half hour! The constant internal monologue is EXHAUSTING!!! Like, I’ve got other stuff to do!
It’s kinda a pain, but it’s nice when I have to entertain myself for a while and I’ve got nothing (fun) to do.


#16

I get this too, sorry i dont have any advice, because i havent found anything that works yet, but its so nice to hear other people’s experiences are similar to your own, just knowing there’s people that understand the feeling, because it’s so hard to explain it to somebody who doesn’t.


#17

I get this too! My therapist has this perspective that a lot of the time I’m making my brain do a lot of work, even if I don’t realize it, and that’s draining my ability to focus and think. Working with him has helped me gradually “clear up” those background processes, so I have more energy/attention to focus on what I need to. A LOT of those processes have turned out to be self-monitoring, self-judgment, etc. You know, all the baggage that people with ADHD tend to wind up carrying. Turns out, constantly assessing whether I was doing enough, or if I had the right habits, or if I could be more productive, was super draining on my executive functions! It seems like “brain fog” can come from a lot of other places, but for me what helped the most was learning to give myself a break (I know, easier said than done).


#18

This thread is amazing, thank you all for sharing how you work your way out of the fog… it’s so heartening to read about people experiencing the same thing you go through when you’ve felt alone for so long! I haven’t found the ways to snap myself out of this setting yet, but I’m going to try some of these suggestions.

Just read a friend’s post about executive dysfunction and what it feels like on another platform, and someone shared that it’s like you know you want to do X activity but you’re stuck waiting for something. You’re not sure what, it never seems to come, but you’re just waiting for it to be time to do X. That resonated with me, as did the comment above about feeling so dreadfully bored but unable to figure out how to satiate the boredom.


#19

All week at work I’ve been idling, doing all kinds of stuff EXCEPT the work I should be doing, even while I’m internally screaming at my brain and my body to stop procrastinating and just do the thing already. It’s been a frustrating and shame-filled week for me.


#20

Yesterday I figured out a trick with this.
I am bad at task switching, and I think brain fog - when I can’t concentrate on anything and just waste time being kind of zoned out - is really that I can’t switch to starting something, and/or am paralyzed because I can’t decide what to start.
But, being terrible at task switching means that I’m also terrible at stopping doing things when I should - thinking “ok, time to stop, I’ll just do this small thing first then I’ll go home/go to bed/ eat something”… and then it’s several hours later and I’ve done the small thing and lots of other small things (sometimes some of them are relevant to whatever I had to accomplish).
Yesterday, major revelation - I successfully stopped brain fog and tricked myself into starting doing the thing by talking to myself the same way as when I’m failing at stopping. “ok time to go home/have lunch/make tea, but first I’ll just open this file to add the sentence about x to section y, before I forget.”
I think the just and before I forget are critical - they make anything a minor time commitment and urgent.
It invariably takes me a long time, and lots of editing to add a single sentence, but I’m surprised every time about how long it takes. It’s long enough to get out of brain fog.
Whenever I’m not in brain fog, then sure, I’ll frequently be off-task and not doing what I meant to, but sometimes I at least start doing things that are working towards the big goal (e.g. other sentences, in other sections).