Covid-19 has been making people confused, irritable, depressed, lethargic, and forgetful. But not how you might think.
Most people suffering from this mind fog haven’t been infected by coronavirus. Affected, yes. Infected, no. The virus outbreak has now triggered a second epidemic - of mental illness. In fact, a poll by the Kaiser Family Foundation found 56% of adults have had mental health issues linked to the pandemic.
In a recent article, neuroscientists Hilke Plassman and Benjamin Kessler explain why this unprecedented crisis is hard for our minds to interpret and process. Parts of the brain which function well under normal circumstances have been thrown into disarray by new, uncertain problems.
The result? We are left with what Plassman and Kessler call “Covid brain.” Sufferers become absent-minded and their thought process turns fuzzy. Obviously, this interferes with life and important responsibilities.
It’s not only because of coronavirus worries. Any time stress goes out of control for a prolonged period, our cognition suffers.
What can we do to gather our thoughts and find the balance to move forward? Plassman and Kessler offered a few strategies for maintaining mental wellness in tough times:
Reframe: Change how you interpret your stress. This can be done in a number of ways, but primarily these techniques let us view tension and anxiety from another perspective. For example - “This fear is ruining my life” changes to “This fear is a natural reaction, and it is a formidable challenge. An opportunity to learn and grow.”
Relax: Music is great for de-stressing and has proven calming effects. Depending on the type of music and your preference, it can take your mind off troubles and soothe the nervous system. But if music isn’t your thing maybe watch your favorite comedy or read an interesting book.
Train your brain: Concentration and calming techniques like mindfulness have been all the rage lately, and for good reason. Study after study shows mindfulness meditation lowers stress levels and improves quality of life for many practitioners. Think of it like exercise for your mind. The more you practice, the more you gain control over unpleasant emotions and moods.
Sometimes thought exercises, music, and meditation aren’t enough to make you feel ok. If stress feels overwhelming please reach out. Bregman MD has years of experience treating anxiety, depression, and many other disorders. We are here for you. Get mental health care from your phone or computer with telepsychiatry and online therapy. Schedule an appointment at www.bregmanmd.com/appointment/ or call 305-740-3340.