- Physical Fatigue: Last Tuesday I went the gym and did a one hour Spin (Cycle) class and then went right into a one hour Yoga class. Sometimes on Monday I'll do a one hour weight lifting class and then a one hour Spin class immediately after. I feel tired EVERYTIME I do double fitness classes. In fact, I felt limp walking to my car after class and I COULDN'T WAIT TO GET HOME TO TAKE A NAP.
- Cognitive Fatigue: Yesterday I picked up this month's read for my bookclub. I read the first twenty pages last night before bed (when I was already tired which wasn't the best move for my reading retention). The book is called, Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch (supposedly an easy read, science-fiction, British Humor. And let it be known that I'm not much of a fan of British Humor, or should I say humour?) After completing the first ten pages, I realized that if someone had asked me to briefly summarize what I'd just read, I wouldn't even be able to tell them the name of one character, let alone the title of the book. So I decided to just start over. I read the first seven pages again and I just couldn't focus on what was happening in the story. There was a character named "Crawley" and weird things happened. That's all I could remember. "This book is stupid," I said and got ready for bed. I COULDN'T WAIT TO CRAWL UNDER MY COVERS AND FALL ASLEEP.
It's best to prevent cognitive fatigue ALTOGETHER if you can and I've learned some strategies that help with this (mostly from other people):
- First, avoid brain-taxing stuff in the evening. A lot of people read before bed to help them sleep. I can do this if I am not too tired and it's something that I've read before. But give me something unfamiliar and I get so cognitively taxed trying to remember each paragraph as I read, that it becomes difficult to fall asleep.
- Second, take brain breaks - one every couple hours, preferably in the dark and dead-silence. Sometimes at work, I'll take ten minutes from my lunch, go sit in my car wearing an eye mask and ear plugs.
- Third, eat healthy (limit pre-packaged meals, sodium like potato chips and sugar before bedtime. Fill up on vegetables and whole grains). Nourishing food for your body is similar to gasoline for a car - - a car needs fuel to even operate and your body needs healthy food to operate efficiently.
- Fourth, exercise. Maybe I should have put exercise as number one on my list since I find it the most effective, but I put it fourth in that I was saving the best for last! I've always been a "go-to-the-gym" person (thank my dad for this since I attribute this trait to his OCD gym attendance when I was in high school), but after my injury, exercise at the gym helped me to feel "normal" again. Here is why: (A) the gym was a familiar place since I always went there pre-accident and Survivors prefer the familiar. (B) class helps me to focus because I have to follow the instructor. (C) the instructor has already pre-planned my workout so I don't have to. (D) I love seeing my friends in the class as I am motivated by other people (that one is just personal preference and has nothing to do with my injury).
I call Yoga the "cure all." (This photo is NOT me!)