Our Brain's Reaction in These Troubled Times
Global news has been quite grim lately. It is not unusual to hear of the spread of Coronavirus, new terrorist attacks, and mass shootings. How does our brain assimilate this information and allow us to move forward?
Well, this phenomenon has been researched. Result: Our brain has the capacity to assimilate negative information. We have to fight our first reaction of trying to avoid this bad news. If you choose to fight thinking about these events, you will suffer some serious consequences:
· Negativity settles in your stomach, chest and shoulders
· It clutters your thoughts and distracts you from working on the task at hand
· And, you will experience chronic stress and all the physical ailments that accompany it (tense muscles, digestive problems, lethargy)
· Negative stress will exhaust you
Negative Words Can Lose Their Impact
The fact is – your brain is able to handle all of this negativity. Researchers found that through repetition, negative words begin to lose their power over a person’s mind, reducing effects on mood and cognition.
There is a proper way to process bad news. Instead of reading a headline and getting upset, keep on reading the entire article so that you repeatedly expose yourself to the negative information. This process allows your brain to digest and understand the information so that it can move on to other concerns in your life.
A center of balance must be achieved here. Your brain can be affected with overexposure to bad news, but underexposure is also damaging. Unfortunately, these negative incidents are a part of our new-normal life. We need to learn how to process this information so that we can move forward with our day.
It will be hard not to identify with the signs of Quarantine fatigue. Have you people exclaim that they are tired at the end of the day – while being at home? Dr. Mary Fristad, PhD, ABPP, a psychologist at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, says that this fatigue is due to many reasons. One reason is that we are all experiencing so much change and unpredictability in our lives. Anxiety is common especially for those experiencing financial difficulties. Combine the extra demands of working from home along with providing education for their children and you have a very exhausting schedule to follow.
People working on a computer all day complain of fatigue and eye strain. People are missing the opportunity to physically be with friends, family and co-workers. Phone calls and video chats provide a social outlet but don’t completely fill the void of being with other people. Melissa Wesner, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor, said that “I’ve heard several people say that they are starting to struggle because they are missing human interaction, physical presence, and hugs.” Online communication just isn’t the same.
Establish new routines. Get outside and enjoy some fresh air and sunshine. Make some time to exercise. Settling into a sedentary lifestyle cause a new set of problems. You may not sleep well at night and find yourself exhausted during the day. It is very important to avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms. Alcohol purchases have gone up substantially since COVID-19 hit. The importance of finding some time for yourself cannot be overstated. A little time to decompress will go a long way in balancing mood. As difficult as this might be, find gratitude in everyday events. We are resilient and this time gives us the opportunity to find creative ways to come together as family, friends, colleagues, and community.
Bundrant,M. (December 12, 2013). Simple trick unleashes your brain’s capacity to handle negativity and bad news (based on research). Retrieved from http://www.naturalnews.com/z043215_negativity_bad_news_brain_function.html
Gray,D. (May 4, 2020). Yes, ‘quarantine fatigue’ is real. Here’s how to cope. Retrieved from https://healthline.com/health-news/quarantine-fatigue-is-real-heres-how-to-cope