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Feb. 24, 2021

Editor's note: Brain fog

Last weekend I woke up, read the New York Times in bed like I normally do and asked my husband if he knew when our daughter was going to be coming to our house. She had an appointment in town and needed to spend the night (masked and safely distanced). He didn’t know, so I texted her.


I went about the rest of my normal Sunday routine. I threw food in the slow cooker, so we’d have food when she got here. About noon she let me know her appointment wasn’t the following day, so I assumed she meant the appointment was Tuesday, not Monday.


I mentioned to my husband that she wasn’t coming that day, but the next. It was at that moment he pointed out that it was only Saturday, not Sunday. I was so convinced he was wrong I argued with him for a bit until I looked at my watch. I was absolutely stunned. I couldn’t even wrap my head around it. How could my brain have gotten it so completely wrong?


This wasn’t even close to the first time I’ve experienced brain fog since the pandemic started. Heck, it wasn’t even the first time that week. The simplest tasks seem much harder, organization escapes me, my focus is off, my thoughts scattered and the mental exhaustion is real. I fight to find words to write and then stumble through each sentence. I either sleep fitfully or have such deep sleep with extremely vivid dreams that I’m left confused and still tired.


I recently stumbled across an article from the CBC that assured me that I’m not the only one struggling. It was noted that, “brain fog is a real thing” and that many of us are experiencing it because of the stress in the last year. (Side note: How can it already be a year but also feel like it’s been forever all at once?)


While I don’t wish brain fog on anyone, it was comforting to know that I’m not alone. This whole horrible mess has always been about surviving together. Hang in there, I’m confident the fog will eventually lift. It has to, right?


There are plenty of tips out there for curbing the stress that can contribute to brain fog. Some say tart cherries may help with sleep, immune systems and promote brain health. Michigan is the top producer of this fruit, and MSU is proudly home to the country’s one and only tart cherry breeder. Check out the MSUToday feature and video, Perfecting Michigan cherries to learn how Spartan research supports this important Michigan industry.


Researchers at MSU are also studying learning loss during COVID-19 and how to keep stress from controlling what we’re eating.


And thankfully, as more people are vaccinated, we will continue to move toward a less stressful time for all of us. Recently, a panel of experts, including President Stanley, addressed questions about the safety and efficacy of the vaccines in a virtual town hall. It’s a pretty great resource to have when your president is also an infectious disease expert.


Brent Strong, a senior majoring in physiology, a College of Natural Science Dean’s Research Scholar and a member of the Honors College, doesn’t specifically say he’s experiencing brain fog, but when he says, “Disenchantment is a slow drip. In the midst of the pandemic, it’s crept up on me bit by bit,” it sure sounds like he could be.


But while he struggles like the rest of us with motivation, he remembers that “the cure to my disenchantment has been to remember the importance of the science I am studying now and its potential to make someone’s life in the future just a little bit better.” Read his Student view: Fighting off the disenchantment to learn more about this impressive Spartan.


Sometimes a walk outdoors and some beautiful sights and sounds can peel away the corner of the fog just a bit and renew our spirit. If you’re in need, we’ve got the latest weekly photo gallery that includes beautiful winter campus scenes and the rushing sounds of the Red Cedar River.


No matter how “foggy” we’re feeling, we Spartans do our best to wipe it away and move forward with a determination and spirit that has the power to change the world. There are clearer days ahead for all of us. Spartans Will.

Lisa Mulcrone 
Editor, MSUToday



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