Can’t seem to focus these days? You could have pandemic brain

A thick layer of fog has enveloped our brains, and we can’t seem to understand why. Well, this is what’s known as the pandemic brain. It’s when your brain is mentally compromised due to all that you’ve endured.
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Dementia risks can be cut down by following a good lifestyle. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Geetika Sachdev Updated: 2 Jul 2021, 14:38 pm IST
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Have you been feeling ‘out of your mind’ lately? Yes, that feeling that nothing is in your control, and there is a perpetual fog that has clouded the brain. You walk into a room and forget why you did, you encounter people and forget their names, and so on. Don’t worry, because this is a common occurrence—yes, you heard it right. It’s called a pandemic brain. 

People all over the world have been experiencing fatigue, day in and day out. This is irrespective of the fact that you make it to bed on time or do everything the right way. The fact is that living through a pandemic isn’t easy at all. We have been through a series of lockdowns that have certainly made significant changes to our brain. But there’s nothing to worry, because the good news is—recovery is possible.

“This time isn’t easy at all for anyone. From attending one Zoom meeting after the other to keeping it together at work, to handling domestic responsibilities, there’s a lot that we are enduring,” says Ishita Baluja, a mental health practitioner. “Our social media feeds are criss-crossed with contrasting content —  on one hand, you have someone crying over the loss of a parent, and the next post is about people partying in Goa. Our feeds are dystopian to say the least. That affects our brain too. People do not feel as sharp as they would, they are constantly overwhelmed,” she adds. 

Also read: Stress, scare, and the virus: 3 doctors open up about their life during the pandemic

Is pandemic brain a disorder?

Not, really. It’s more of a brain fog that has become rather common now. According to research, when the temporal limbic regions of the brain get super charged from being overwhelmed and worried, it’s even harder for that part of your brain to complete tasks. This is largely due to the isolated lives we’ve been living for a year-and-a-half.

pandemic brain
‘Pandemic Brain’ is real. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

“Although there have been several calls of how surviving is important at this time, a lot of people are struggling to thrive and it’s not going down well with them. The levels of productivity are naturally affected, and with workplaces putting additional pressure, things aren’t helping. You might feel that being grateful for a job is important, or how others are in a worse position, but let’s face it – the mental effects of living through a pandemic are serious. You, too, are impacted,” adds Baluja. 

How bad is it?

A study that included 70,000 participants in 2020 showed that women have higher levels of worry associated with covid-19 than men. 

“Depression and anxiety are still highest in young adults, women, people with lower household income, people with a long-term physical health condition, people from ethnic minority backgrounds, and people living with children,” suggests the survey.

The need of the hour is to gain security in some way or the other, which is clearly not happening. That just makes your brain go into a tizzy, and spirals you into a zone where you feel anxious and in some cases, depressed. 

Of course, if it gets out of hand, seeking professional help is advised. But you can also try out some other ways to eliminate this brain fog, before that. Yes, you can. 

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Here’s how to feel better

Move your body! Yes, this is the biggest secret to getting a serotonin and dopamine rush. “It’s not about burning calories, but just getting up and moving as much as possible. It might seem counterintuitive at that point, but it helps in a big way. The other way to feel better is to meditate. You don’t have to sit for hours at end, just doing it for five minutes helps too,” adds Baluja.

Also, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach here. Do what makes you feel better. If you think doodling makes you feel happy, don’t stop yourself. The same goes for cooking, gardening or anything else that clears your mind. You could also join an online community, and meet all kinds of people. We are craving human interactions, so do this for yourself. 

“Also, don’t be hard on yourself. You don’t have to suddenly do all the things in one day. Take small steps and you will see a huge difference,” she says. 

The last word

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Hopefully, with an increasing number of people getting vaccinated, things might look up. In any case, if you feel that nothing is helping, do not shy away from seeking professional help. Listen to your mind and body! 

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About the Author

An independent writer and journalist, Geetika loves sharp and fresh humour, just like her coffee! If not writing, you'll find her cafe-hopping and raiding the best book stores in town. ...Read More

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