You are not crazy if you believe you are losing your mind. In reality, you’re probably in the majority right now, suffering from what’s being called “pandemic brain fog”.
Raquel Gur, M.D., Ph.D., a University of Pennsylvania professor of psychiatry, neurology, and radiology says “People feel like they aren’t as sharp—there is a feeling of being overwhelmed.”. Gur has been undertaking an international analysis of personal resilience during the pandemic, and she has heard several people report common symptoms of “being overwhelmed with emotion” and “being dysregulated.”
It’s a feeling known as “pandemic brain fog”.
According to Gur, pandemic brain is not a disease and has not yet been studied, but it is undoubtedly occurring. “It’s more of a subjective report of what people describe as a fogged mind,” she says.
From a neurobiological perspective, this makes sense. “When the temporal limbic regions of the brain are active as a result of being overwhelmed with worries and uncertainty,” she says, it makes it impossible for the portion of the brain that helps you to complete tasks to work. “It’s like a fogginess or low-level depression that comes with being isolated or out of your daily routines,” says Deanna Crosby, a therapist who has been hearing stories of these symptoms from her clients, including people who felt well prior to the pandemic.
In other words, it turns out that attempting to maintain regular levels of output over a prolonged period of crisis has real implications. Even if your inclination is to quit feeling sorry for yourself, get over it, or think about how others have it worse, scientists are telling us unequivocally that the mental effects of living through this past year are a severe, widespread issue. You are not alone with your feelings.
What Is Pandemic Brain Fog ?
People are experiencing higher levels of depression and anxiety than ever before as they deal with physical loneliness, work loss, anxiety, and grief. Difficulties with organizing, concentrating, and performing day-to-day activities effectively are becoming more popular, and cognitive health experts believe they are all linked to the pandemic’s stress.
Meanwhile, some people suffering from COVID-19 are experiencing neuropsychiatric symptoms such as insomnia, foggy thought, and depression, which doctors believe are caused by the virus.
Although ‘brain fog’ can make it difficult to think, experts agree there are steps people can take in their everyday lives to recover. Being Patient talked with Kristen Willeumier, a neuroscientist, about ways to improve brain health and clear the fog.
- Brain fog is a term used to describe symptoms such as headaches, exhaustion, dizziness, and an inability to focus or recall.
- Healthy diet and sleep patterns, exercise, and stress management are all techniques that can help with brain fog.
- SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can cause systemic inflammation in the body, resulting in nervous system damage.
What Causes Brain Fog ?
If you are experiencing severe forgetfulness, particularly if it is accompanied by other troubling physical symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue, or a racing heartbeat, you should consult your doctor to rule out more serious issues.
However, if you are only experiencing foggy or distracted thoughts, you are most likely suffering from anxiety or stress-related brain fog.
According to Harris Poll’s survey conducted ( January 2021 ) on support of the American Psychological Association, 84 percent of adults are experiencing at least one mental health impact as a result of prolonged stress, including anxiety, depression, frustration, and feelings of overwhelm—and these stress levels have only grown worse over the course of the pandemic.
According to Penn Medicine, chronic stress, such as that endured during the pandemic, can alter the way our brain works, resulting in deficits in our ability to think clearly, prepare, and complete daily tasks.
“When feelings become overblown, areas of the brain in charge of executive function appear to interact less well with emotional parts of the brain—the limbic system is overriding the executive functioning circuit,” Penn Medicine states. “This may result in people having difficulty concentrating or managing impulses,” they say.
Pandemic Brain Fog vs. COVID Brain Fog
It is important to remember that the brain fog described here is emotional in nature, brought on by the pandemic or quarantine lifestyle. The COVID-19 virus has been known to cause symptoms of brain fog in those who have healed, especially those who have faced COVID-19 “long haul” symptoms.
According to John Hopkins Medicine, “while some survivors have completely recovered from this disease, others are still experiencing residual symptoms such as chronic fatigue, brain fog, dizziness, and elevated heart rate.”
“Some of the signs these survivors are experiencing are believed to be caused by postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS), a blood circulation disorder,” according to doctors.
If your “brain fog” symptoms are crippling in some way, or if your intuition tells you they are more than a stress reaction to the pandemic, always consult your doctor.
Common Signs of Pandemic Brain Fog
The signs of pandemic brain fog differ from person to person, but the following are the most common:
- Difficulty focusing
- Problems with short-term memory
- Difficulty paying attention to details
- Reduced ability to multitask
- Difficulty performing tasks
- Difficulty preparing
- Feeling drowsy, scattered, or confused
How Beat Pandemic Brain Fog ?
Let’s look at best tips to beat pandemic brain fog :
Make Certain You’re Hydrated Enough
If anyone has pandemic brain fog, recommend that they drink half their body weight in ounces of water. The Institute of Medicine recommends that men consume 3.7 liters of fluid per day and women drink 2.7 liters per day. Even something as basic as drinking enough water will help you improve your mental and physical health.
If you don’t know how much water you should drink a day please use our Daily Water Intake Calculator to be sure about your hydration.
Consume nutritious, energizing foods.
As the saying goes, you are what you eat. During the pandemic, plenty of us have turned to comfort foods, and there’s nothing wrong with that!
However, consuming too many fatty, sugary foods can affect our mood over time. Making an effort to eat more healthy foods will improve your mood.
When you’re also making almost endless meals and snacks for your family, this can be difficult, but pre-planning and filling your fridge with easy-to-prepare, nutritious foods can help.
Good snacks, such as fruit, nuts, and hard boiled eggs, should also be available. Where appropriate, substitute sugary, caffeinated beverages with water or tea.
Supplements To Beat Pandemic Brain Fog
Omega-3 fatty acids, a high-quality multivitamin, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, zinc, probiotics, and curcumin a.k.a. turmeric are only a few supplements that will help you beat the pandemic brain fog. “Curcumin, which comes from the turmeric plant’s root, is an incredible anti-inflammatory, not just for the body but also for the brain. Certain types of curcumin can cross the blood-brain barrier and bind to the plaque that causes Alzheimer’s disease,” says the study.
Reversing Brain Damage in Former NFL Players, published by Kristen Willeumier, PhD, a neuroscientist with extensive research experience in brain function, demonstrated just how effective nutritional support can be when used continuously over time.
Thirty former NFL players with brain injury and cognitive disability were studied. Fish oil, a high-potency multivitamin, a formulated brain stimulation supplement such as acetyl-l-carnitine, and an antioxidant function such as alpha-lipoic acid or n-acetyl-cysteine were all part of the regimen.
Microcog : Assessment of Cognitive Functioning, a brain health screening method, showed “statistically significant gains in scores of concentration, memory, reasoning, speed of processing information and accuracy” after six months of treatment. Their brain SPECT scans were particularly remarkable, as they all showed elevated blood flow to the brain, which promotes mood and memory.
Get Out Of Your House
Depending on the community transmission rates in your region and other personal factors, gathering indoors with people outside your immediate family might not be safe.
Outside time, on the other hand, is still in style, even during a pandemic. Getting out of the house will do wonders for your mental health and help you control your emotions.
Spending time outside will also help you sleep better at night. If you’re gathering outside with people who aren’t part of your family, use COVID precautions like masking and social distancing.
Turn On The Music
Music has a strong hold on our memories. Music that is familiar to us and brings back memories. It piques our curiosity. It has the ability to stimulate the brain. So it provides a sense of socialization by giving you the impression that you’re with others and aren’t alone.
Move, Move, Move !
The mind and body are strongly connected and if your body is slow, it’s likely that your mind is as well. So get up and drive in whatever direction you want. This could be a dance party, a stroll around the block, or a workout session on the exercise bike.
It makes no difference what it is or how difficult it is. The goal is to get your blood circulating and your endorphins pumping, which will make you feel less anxious.
Don’t Be Multitasker
Some of us wouldn’t be able to live without it. Multitasking, on the other hand, can intensify feelings of pandemic brain fog. Your brain becomes overworked and unable to focus on a single task, resulting in a poor performance on all tasks assigned to you.
Setting aside time to work on each task individually will improve your overall focus and patience!
Organize Your Life
Any way you can regain power in a situation where you feel like you don’t have any will aid your mental wellbeing and feelings of pandemic brain fog. However, you are not needed to be in charge of this! Here, technology is on your side.
Build to-do lists, shopping lists, and other vital data using software on your phone so it doesn’t escape your mind. Make use of your phone’s schedule, and don’t forget to set those useful reminders and alarms.
Plan Your Days
When you’re quarantined at home, the days will quickly pass you by. Feelings of pandemic brain fog can be compounded by the feeling of not knowing what day it is or having no real routine in your life. Even if your tasks are minimal, it is helpful to structure your days.
Make an effort to wake up at a consistent time each day and develop schedules for your workouts, meals, and sleep. These little things will make you feel energised and clear-headed.
Notice Your Feelings And Write Them
One way to cope with the avalanche of feelings all of us are experiencing as a result of the pandemic is to call what you’re feeling. It’s all too easy to go through your day feeling everything that every concern, frustration, and sadness and not even know what you’re feeling.
This can make you feel absolutely exhausted. Taking the time to realize your feelings by writing it down or sharing it with a loved one will make you feel more in control of your emotions and also lessen the effect they have on you.
Don’t Forget To Get Support
Since pandemic brain fog is a sign of stress and anxiety, it may be beneficial for you to seek clinical treatment to manage your mental health. These days, therapist services are also available online.
It can be intimidating to begin therapy. Look around for a therapist who makes you feel comfortable. It’s possible that just expressing your thoughts and sharing your symptoms would feel like a weight has been lifted.
Is It Difficult To Start ?
You should know that exercise is beneficial to your health. When you’re filled with anxiety and despair, though, you’re not in the mood to exercise. It’s like moving an elephant up a hill when you’re depressed. When you’re sad, it’s difficult to do the things that are right for you.
Breaking the loop requires small steps, a little discipline, and self-compassion. Simply strive to be a bit better today than yesterday.
Part of what makes experiencing low or high-level depression and anxiety so difficult right now is that our society is designed to persuade us that everything else is perfect. But we can destroy emotional struggle.
If It’s Not Pandemic Brain Fog, See Your Doctor !
It’s important to bear in mind that not all signs of brain fog during the pandemic are neurological. Brain fog may also be a sign of a severe medical problem.
Some of the most common medical conditions that cause symptoms of brain fog, according to Harvard Health, include :
- Medicine side effects
- B12 deficiency
- Thyroid disorders
- Obstructive sleep apnea
Any medicine you’re taking should be discussed with your doctor, who would be able to tell you whether they’re triggering your brain fog. B12 deficiency and thyroid problems can be detected with simple blood tests, and sleep apnea can be diagnosed with a sleep examination.
Don’t Be Desperate !
People who learned to take real breaks, control their emotions, and keep calm during COVID’s highs, on the other hand, performed better across the board.
And it’s not a sign of your character if you continue to struggle with depression, anxiety, and pandemic brain fog. It isn’t you; it is merely a state. Nobody calls you weak if your arm is broken. When you’re having mental difficulties, though, people tend to believe you are weak. But it’s not a case of mind over matter. People would not be sad if they have the ability to control emotions ! However, they are unable to do so. They have no influence over it.
Resilience takes time to develop. It takes courage to create it when coping with depression, anxiety, or any other form of pandemic brain fog.
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