Several months into COVID-19 quarantine, there’s still so much that feels disorienting and abnormal. Between sharing close quarters with family members, socializing with friends over Zoom, wearing face masks to venture out in public, working from the couch instead of an office and streaming Netflix for hours on end, these drastic shifts in routine have likely done a number on your brain function. If it’s been hard to concentrate or find energy and motivation, you’re not alone.
“Because we’re now more sedentary [than usual], the body responds with an increased sense of lethargy and fatigue—a heaviness that we carry around with us as we move from the bed to the couch to the chair and back again. Simultaneously, because we’re largely so under-stimulated in comparison with our typical lifestyles, our minds are ‘shutting down’ in response to the lack of stimulus,” enumerates Dr. Paraskevi Noulas, a psychologist and clinical assistant professor at NYU Langone Medical Center. But fear not, quarantined Netflix streamer: below are four practical ways to combat this brain fog.
Practice Yoga to Strengthen Your Focus
Start by restoring a mind-body connection because when the body is in motion, the brain feels stronger and more vitalized too. Yoga is a low-impact exercise to help boost this connection, and it can be done in your own living room or outdoor patio. Begin each day with one yoga pose, in particular.
“The movement of cat-cow, known as spinal flexion, increases the circulation of spinal fluid. This contributes to mental clarity, according to Kundalini yoga, because all 26 vertebrae receive stimulation,” explains Fern Olivia, founder and CEO of Thyroid Yoga. “Encourage yourself to move at a rapid and rhythmic pace through this exercise. This will promote energy flow which, in turn, presses out the stagnant energy” that tends to slow or cloud your brain, she continues.
Remove Clutter from Your Living Space
With all the time you’re spending at home lately, if the space is not clean and organized, this could impact your stress and anxiety levels. A messy environment can lead to feelings of chaos, whereas order has a soothing effect. For this reason, it’s important to maintain a decluttered space for as long as you’re in quarantine.
“There’s a strong link between your physical space and mental space. Clutter is bad for your mind and health […] Get rid of clutter in your office, on your desk, in your room, and you will send a clear message of calm directly to the brain. Start decluttering today in small, focused bursts. You’re not going to clean the entire space in a day, so start small to make it a daily habit that sticks,” advises Thomas Oppong, founder of AllTopStartups and editor of Kaizen Habits.
Eat More Foods that Boost Brain Power
Another issue that often contributes to brain fog is inadequate nutrition. If all those empty calories from “quarantine snacks” have caused you to feel dazed or unfocused, then it could be time to rethink the quality of nutrition you’ve been consuming lately. According to Harvard Health, certain nutrient-dense whole food sources are “particularly rich in healthful components like omega-3 fatty acids, B vitamins, and antioxidants, which are known to support brain health […] Incorporating many of these foods into a healthy diet on a regular basis can improve the health of your brain, which could translate into better mental function.”
Some of these foods include berries, walnuts, spinach, kale, broccoli, tuna, salmon, coffee and tea. There is no problem with comfort snacking in moderation, but a balanced diet is crucial.
Stimulate Your Mind with a New Hobby.
Hands-on activities that require your attention and concentration are ideal for boosting mental sharpness, clarity, and function. Repetitive hobbies such as crocheting a blanket or planting a garden can help your brain enter a state of calmness or meditation, and strategic, tactical hobbies such as poker can hone quick, shrewd thinking and problem-solving.
Both are important for an agile mind, so fill your spare time with activities that challenge you to do more than just stare at a television screen all afternoon. These particular hobbies can be enjoyed at home too in observance of continued social distance protocols. For instance, online poker is accessible on your computer, and even if you don’t know how to play, this is a perfect time to learn. An occupied brain is less susceptible to fogginess.
Have you experienced brain fog while in quarantine these past several months? What has worked to help restore your mental function to its full capacity? Share your ideas, thoughts, and feedback in the comment section below!