Could the quarantine be affecting your cognitive powers?
As we all sit here in our homes trying to be part of the solution to the Covid-19 crisis by practicing social distancing, we have to wonder, how is this isolation affecting our minds? Aren’t humans social beings? Can it really be healthy for us to be cut off from the rest of society for a prolonged period?
Interestingly enough, scientists have done research on the prospect of being isolated and how it affects our brain health. We are all mostly aware that social isolation can affect our mental health, but science is finding that it has a negative impact on our brain itself and your overall physical health. According to an article published by the American Psychological Association, they found that missing out on social interactions can be as detrimental to your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day or having an alcohol abuse problem! The study also found that social seclusion is associated with a higher risk of premature death.
So, is a quarantine considered chronic isolation? Fortunately, we live in a time when we have digital access to our friends, family and even our jobs through our smartphones, computers and tablets. Yet, that doesn’t mean that everyone is taking advantage of those opportunities to connect. It’s easy to get into a rut or routine of just going about your daily tasks in your house. Or, if you are working from home, perhaps you are still lacking true social connection because you are mainly focused on accomplishing the tasks for the day. The more we get into this day-to-day monotony, the more our brains enter into autopilot mode. This is the state that causes us to lose cognitive function.
This monotonous existence is also what can contribute to a feeling of loneliness. In an article published by sciencealert.com, which covered the impact of loneliness on the brain, the stories of researchers stationed in Antarctica and of the Israeli adventurer, Yossi Ghinsberg, who survived weeks alone in the Amazon, were discussed. All of these said that the most difficult thing about their expeditions was the solitude. Ghinsberg even concocted imaginary friends to talk to, much like the character Chuck Noland in the movie Castaway created Wilson to be his companion. Human beings have a deep need for connection and social interaction that simply can’t be ignored and when it is denied them, their minds seek to ease the pressure and pain created by the isolation.
Social interaction helps you deal with stress and keep our cortisol levels manageable. However, without that community connection to take the edge off, people can find that losing cognitive function causes them to have impaired memory and decision-making abilities. Ironically enough, the research also showed that this contributed to a lowered immune system, which was less adept at fighting pathogens, such as viruses. So, as we are trying to isolate to keep ourselves healthy, we have to ask ourselves the question, are we impairing our health?
One other thing we may expose ourselves to that may have damaging effects on our brain is the endless media consumption. It’s easy to get bored when you are stuck in your house and feel like the best solution is to binge-watch your favorite show, or maybe binge-watch Tiger King, like the rest of America seems to be doing. But brain scans have shown that internet addiction causes “structural and functional changes in brain regions involving emotional processing, executive attention, decision-making, and cognitive control”. We all know that too much television makes us feel drained and lethargic. This is yet another sign of how media consumption can affect our brain.
The answer in all of this isn’t to revolt against the quarantine, though. We need to stay home and follow the guidelines to prevent the virus from spreading. But, there are many activities you can do at home that will help you keep your brain engaged and healthy, despite what’s going on around you. These activities won’t just keep your brain healthy, they will boost your immune system and keep your body strong and your mind at peace. The most important thing to remember is new and novel experiences help our brains to stay active. So, breaking out of that household drudgery will be an important key to stay sharp during these times.
Exercise has actually been found to increase the plasticity of the brain and strengthen the fundamental systems that “support this plasticity, including neurogenesis, metabolism, and vascular function”. Basically, exercise helps our brain to grow new brain cells and promotes the ability for us to change our behaviors through neuro-plasticity.
So, what are we supposed to do then? Run around our living rooms? The gyms are closed and we can’t go outside. Well, if you have a significant amount of property around your house, exercising in your back or front yard actually might be the best option. Vitamin D is an essential component of good overall health and immune function, so exercising outside in the sun and fresh air can boost your immunity and your brain capacity.
However, if you are stuck in a small apartment or have other restrictions that keep you from going outside, it might be good to workout near a window. Get fresh air and sunlight while sweating it out. There are countless options for working out at home, from Pilates, to HIIT workouts, to a home-based barbell system, to your basic treadmill. So, now is the time to join a 30-day workout challenge or some other fitness channel online and start getting connected.
2. CHALLENGE YOURSELF
As we said before, novelty wakes up your brain. Your brain thrives on challenges and learning new things. In fact, new experiences actually give your body a hit of dopamine which can prevent your brain from aging. Take this time to learn a new skill. Perhaps it’s an instrument, like playing the guitar or piano, or maybe you’ve always wanted to learn to sew or knit. Maybe you have always wanted to improve your knowledge of a particular subject but you feel you just haven’t had the time in the past. Maybe you want to learn a new job skill or computer program. You can take a course on YouTube or Udemy. Whatever, the case, introducing something new and challenging to your day will increase your brain plasticity and keep your mind healthy.
3. SET GOALS
If we wake up every day and feel that the day has no purpose, not only can it lead our brain to become inactive, it can lead us into depression. Having set goals each day gives us purpose and drive. However, we need to make sure they are reasonable goals that we can actually complete within a day. Goals that are outside of a realistic timeframe can also lead to stress and depression. So, if you have a larger goal in mind, such as starting a business, completing a household project, paying off a debt, learning a new skill, reading a certain number of books, etc. Break them into daily, manageable parts. Set a plan for yourself for the week and check off those smaller goals as you accomplish them each day.
4. GET SOCIAL TIME EVERY DAY
While we may have to settle for facetime or just talking on the phone, social time is still an essential part of each day, especially if you live alone. That social time is needed to keep your brain sharp and fresh. Maybe you have friends and family members that you’ve been meaning to talk to for a while but just haven’t had the time. Try creating a schedule of time to get in touch with at least one of them each day. Not only will it be a novel experience, it will meet that need for social connection that we all share.
5. PLAY A STORYTELLING GAME
According to the book, “Sit & Get” Won’t Grow Dendrites: 20 Professional Learning Strategies That Engage the Adult Brain, storytelling, dramas, and charades all help to stimulate a healthy mind. So, even if you live alone, get together with friends on Facetime, Skype or Zoom and play some charades. Think of a little kid who is always excited to play and engage in these types of activities. Not only can the liveliness and movement be good for our brain, it will help balance our mood and emotions as well.
6. TAKE SUPPLEMENTS THAT HELP YOUR COGNITIVE FUNCTION
Studies show that when you use the right ingredients, you can nourish your brain and protect it from toxins, pollutants, free radicals, memory gaps, and brain fog. Strengthen your brain power with the Fortified Brain Bundle by Well of Life. This group of herbs and nutrients has been specially designed to promote a strong and healthy mind and to help counteract the effects of deterioration that can occur from toxins and other environmental assailants.
It has multiple brain-nourishing properties such as:
· Maintaining healthy cognitive function
· Promoting a healthy response to stress
· Helping to boost mood and memory function
· Promoting healthy, profound, and restorative sleep
· Reducing brain inflammation
The Fortified Brain Bundle provides you with every mineral, vitamin, and healthy ingredients that boosts your brain health at the cellular level. Since we are all still dealing with the effects of isolation, we know it’s a great time to counteract those effects as much as possible. That’s why we want to offer you 73% off of the Fortified Brain Bundle!
These are 6 amazing ideas to get you started, but don’t stop there! There’s so much more you can do to keep your brain strong and healthy. From doing artwork, to building a birdhouse, to deep-cleaning your home and getting rid of the things you don’t need. Keep active, make sure there are new activities in your day, talk to friends and family, and don’t get caught up in the feeling of isolation. The more excitement, joy and challenges you put into your day, the less your brain will struggle with the feeling of isolation.
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