There aren’t many people out there that can say that life is the same now as it was before Covid. For a lot of us the pandemic has meant that we had to change how we work, how we socialize, how we go to school, how we shop for groceries, in fact, there really isn’t a single aspect of life that Covid hasn’t affected in one way or another. While things are slightly closer to normal for some of us, a lot of us are still feeling the pressure of the pandemic; with that being said, have you noticed recently you’ve been forgetting the names of common things? Maybe forgetting the common word you’re looking for that you’ve used hundreds of times? Or perhaps you’re struggling to focus even more so than usual? Well, it all checks out because new research from Harvard Medical School has found that the stress of isolation from lockdown and stay-at-home protocol is making people experience neuroinflammation, otherwise known as ‘pandemic brain’. Pandemic brain may look, or rather feel, more like depression, including symptoms such as fatigue and brain fog.
(image via: self)
The best way to describe how and why our brains are doing this is to think about it like this: we went from being social and active and doing things and seeing people to none of those things, and our brain is simply trying to adapt. Jeni Stolow, a professor at the College of Public Health, said it best: “[Pandemic brain] is actually your brain adapting to your new situation the best way it can,” Stolow said. “Unfortunately, because we went from being really dynamic and moving around and interacting with people to complete shutdown, it manifests as feeling apathetic, tired, or depressed.” (source)
Most of us can probably all agree that we’ll be dealing with Covid for quite some time, but there are a lot of things we can do in the meantime to get our minds and bodies back on track, or at least closer to it. Here are a few tips:
- Create a daily routine and stick with it. Sure, it may feel silly getting up to shower and get ready every morning just to sit at your home desk, but you’ll feel much more productive and we bet you’ll even get a whole lot more done around the house. (Don’t forget to schedule some leisure time as well!)
- Treat yourself to sunshine, fresh air, healthy food, and exercise. You won’t regret it.
- Make time every day for something that you love, whether that’s creating art, cooking, or just snuggling with your pet.
- Since stress is a major factor here, figure out the best ways for you to manage stress; this may look like meditation, breathing exercises, or simply practicing mindfulness.
- Avoid drugs and alcohol as these things tend to have negative effects on brain health and often interfere with vital aspects of functioning like getting a good night’s rest or thinking clearly.
(image via: wexner medical)