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Lightheadedness and short-term memory: these are the symptoms of the pandemic brain

Anxiety, uncertainty and confusion are among the symptoms of the pandemic brain that affects us all.

Awakening. Get up to the bathroom with my eyes closed. Wash my face. Still groggy from the alarm, sit down to work. Turn on the computer. Wait to log in. Carry this process with the mind absent, still wandering in an uncertain waking state. Suddenly forgetting completely what he was going to do. Staggering in front of the screen, trying to figure out what I’m doing here, why I opened that window, or who I work for. Happens. Increasingly. I am not the only one who suffers from pandemic brain. These are the symptoms.

Get out of the shell

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The Covid-19 era brought major changes in our ability to pay attention. The constant movement of the eyes, the lack of physical activity and the lack of limits between personal, academic and work life have further reduced our concentration. It is not entirely a question of unwillingness. On the contrary, the brain got used to an erratic structure that confuses it, and keeps constantly high levels of stress under.

Although the new normal is beginning to emerge in some countries, it is a reality that the human body has to go through a hard retrofit process. On a physical and emotional level, the nervous system will also have challenges when hatching again. While is true that staying home can be uncomfortable For certain activities, it is also true that it has great benefits.

Still, the social life is not confined to the four walls of our home. Unlike what was originally thought, re-entering the outer life is no guarantee that the grogginess, anxiety and ‘cognitive slowness’ that the pandemic brought will disappear. On the contrary, it is increasingly evident that a long process of mourning and confrontation with the world It will be necessary to recover the rhythm prior to the appearance of the coronavirus.

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A subtle but reversible deterioration

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As the vaccination days cover a greater number of people, the need to return abroad materializes. On a cognitive level, this will also present a challenge for people. “It will take us some time to recover,” says Mike Yassa, director of the UC Irvine Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory and the UCI Brain Initiative. By this, he refers to reverse subtle mental decline that the pandemic brought to the world.

Today, the body’s main stress hormone called cortisol is on record generates mood disorders. Among the most recurrent are anxiety and depression. However, the brain also suffers: with the reduction of the prefrontal cortex, cognition is also affected. This region is responsible for memory, concentration and learning, that are hampered accordingly.

After months of sustained stress, it is natural for the body to feel the consequences of confinement, loss and confusion that this global process entailed. The pandemic taught us that stress can be harmful to physical health of people, beyond the emotional havoc it leaves in its wake. Although this affectation is there, it is not entirely irreversible. On the contrary, this phenomenon – now known as ‘pandemic brain’ – it is surmountable.

After the fog

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After 18 months of isolation and social distancing, a recent study revealed that the brain mass of the participants shrank. Barbara Sahakian, professor of clinical neuropsychology at the University of Cambridge, says that ” impacts on multiple brain regions, they are deep “. However, there are consistent actions that, if done consciously, promote the pandemic brain recover your usual activity and dimensions:

Exercise: the release of endorphins generated by an exercise routine that is tailored to the needs of each body ensures that the brain is adequately stimulated. Listening to music: the simple act of listening to pieces that give us pleasure allows oxytocin to be activated, generating feelings of empathy and goodwill. Alternating scenarios: physically changing places allows the brain to get used to something more than the same gray wall in front of the desk, or the cell phone screen.

It doesn’t matter if it’s reggaeton, a short outing to the park or the view from the terrace. The point is to move around, to dispel the dense fog that the pandemic imposed about everyday life. At a forced march, the pandemic will have to give way. It’s in our hands make it go out of our body, little by little.

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