Have you recently walked in a room and forgotten why? Were you SURE that you completed a task, only to find out you really didn’t? Does your work sometimes seem confusing?
Guess what? You may be experiencing COVID19 brain. It is a thing. In an article in INC Magazine, the concept of COVID brain is explored. Neuro scientists Hilke Plassmann and Benjamin Kessler explain how the combination of trauma, sleep deprivation, stress and uncertainty collide in our brains to create a perfect storm of fog and confusion.
Did I fill out the requisition request or was that last week? Did I feed the dog dinner?
It all gets mashed up in the pre-frontal cortex of our brains. This area handles analytical thinking, memory, and complex planning but it is in a state of overwhelm. Our brains process and make decisions based on past experiences. BUT we don’t have anything stored away to compare to this disruption. Most of us have never worked from home and home-schooled children. Or worried about becoming ill while still trying to figure out if we can meet our financial responsibilities. Our brains are not currently hardwired for all the scenarios.
So, what do we do to combat COVID brain and all its foggy consequences? How do we stay resilient and energized when our brains are not functioning the way we are used to?
A few tools to that help:
- Pause – When that foggy feeling creeps up. Stop and acknowledge that you feel off. Your thoughts aren’t clear and the only way to stop that thick-brain feeling is to stop what you’re doing. Breathe. Reset your current intention. The world, your kids, your boss can generally wait five minutes for you to gain some clarity.
- Make a plan – I use an amazing planner that helps me work through the day. Or you can also use my Resilience Daily Planner that you can find here. Planning your day helps you stay focused. And focus is the enemy of the COVID brain. We are meant to concentrate on tasks for about 90 minutes. After that, even without brain fog, we begin to lose our ability to concentrate. Find your sweet spot. How long can you focus on a task without distraction? Hey, if it is only ten minutes, then break your day down into 10-minute increments.
- Go to what you know – Find a task that you know you can do. What is something that you are good at and you do without question? If you are in a work situation, reset to a basic task that you have done many times before. A spreadsheet, a team call, a report. Pick something with a familiar flow that you can work on for your next designated chunk of time. If you are in a personal situation, do the same. Reset to a stack of laundry, a grocery list or walking the dog.
- Get a drink of water – Many of us reach for the caffeine when we feel brain fog. But what our bodies actually crave is hydration. Your brain is 73% water. Studies out to the University of Connecticut show that even a 1% decrease in brain hydration can cause cognitive decline.
Many of us feel overwhelmed in the age of COVID. But being intentional to care for your energy levels and resilience is one way to better manage this huge disruption. For more resources please visit this link.