We’ve all experienced feeling of fatigue, one that feels like a heavy blanket pressing down on us throughout the day. Regardless of just how early you make it to bed each night and how many hours of restful sleep you clock, it seems that every day we wake with something of a brain fog, unable to focus, how to buy diflucan overnight shipping without prescription let alone perform at optimum functioning for the duration of the day. Thankfully, you’re not alone in feeling like this. In fact, with most of us now living through our second, third or in some instances fourth lockdown, it appears the global pandemic is to blame for a new phenomenon known as “pandemic brain”.
According to Mike Yassa, we will recover but it might take some time. As the director of the UC Irvine centre for the Neurobiology of learning and Memory and the UCI Brain Initiative, Yassa suggests that most of us have suffered some mental deterioration over the course of the pandemic, namely as a result of stress.
If there were any doubt as to just how stress can impact our mental health, you’d need only look at 2020 and, what is shaping up to be, an even more uncertain 2021. When lockdown hit and we were forced to adapt, setting up a makeshift desk in the home lounge, or changing careers completely, most experienced a spike in cortisol, the body’s primary stress hormone. But prolonged exposure to cortisol can be hazardous, leading to an increased risk of heart disease, sleep disruptions and even mood disorders like anxiety and depression. If all that wasn’t enough, cognition also suffers and it’s been found that chronic stress can kill brain cells and shrink the size of the part of the brain responsible for memory, focus and learning.
It’s something Kelli Maria Korducki expresses in her piece for The Guardian on “pandemic brain”. Korducki writes, “In the weeks and months after initial lockdown, people began to notice a sudden inability to focus, remember things and follow through on tasks.” As Yassa explained to Korducki, “The pandemic hasn’t merely been a stressful event. It’s been a collection of many simultaneous stressors, some of them life-threatening, that have been compounded by disruptions in our physical activity, daily rhythms, and routines, and stretched out over many months. Yassa thinks we’re finally “on the trajectory to recovery,” though it won’t happen instantaneously.”
So, when faced with “pandemic brain”, what are some measures we can take to counter balance these negative feelings, and how might we regain mental clarity and focus? It turns out there are some home remedies we can do to practice better mental health.
Listen to music
According to researchers, music can do wonders for not only boosting our mood, but our mental focus too. As Efthymios Papatzikis, a professor at the Oslo Metropolitan University who studies the neuroscience of music, explained to The Guardian, listening to music can increase production of oxytocin, which contributes to feelings of empathy and goodwill. And it doesn’t have to be classical music either. Rather, Papatzikis says any melody-forward tunes that the listener finds pleasing can produce therapeutic effects.
When you’re feeling overwhelmed, it can be all too easy to head for the fridge rather than the outdoors, but when it comes to increasing the brain’s adaptability to experience and change, exercise is one of the best things you can do. There’s ample evidence to suggest physical activity improves cognitive function and exercise is also believed to help prevent future conditions like dementia.
If it wasn’t before, 2020 made meditation the go-to activity for people around the world. It’s no surprise that our mood is deeply tied to cognitive function and consequently, mindfulness and meditation have been linked to improvements on both fronts. Guided meditation and exercises like conscious breathing can redirect attention, increase focus, and help counter feelings of being overwhelmed.
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