Wed. Apr 1st, 2020

Brain is best friend during a pandemic 

Is there a sanitizer for the brain? Yes. Prayer, meditation, yoga, music, laughter, nature. Whatever healthy and legal activity brings pleasure to the mind can relax the brain and the body. My miniature paradise is a steamy cup of cinnamon tea, a blanket, and a book. What is your brain bliss?

Do you need to quarantine the brain from information overload? Yes. Too much sunshine is a desert and too much rain is a flood. Give your brain a break from obsessive viewing of news about the coronavirus. Decrease your daily dose of health facts. Watching funny animal videos brings warm fuzzies to my crispy brain.

Do you need to go on a social media diet for a while? Yes. However, connecting via technology can be therapeutic during disease isolation. But avoid ardent complainers, dooms-day prophets, and faultfinders. Give your psyche some positive word food with hopeful conversation. Escaping into Pollyanna la-la land is not what I’m suggesting. Stay in reality, but balance brain and body exposure to data and statistics. A brain buffet of panic is not healthy or helpful.

Recently, the Washington Post penned an article with advice from mental health experts about easing anxiety during the pandemic. Psychologist Kathy Hogan-Bruen recommends that individuals prone to anxiety “really try to limit the news consumption or just staring at your phone and your computer, because for most of us that makes mental health worse rather than better.”

“The emotional brain responds to an event more quickly than the thinking brain.”—Daniel GolemanEmotions are created in brain and show up in the body. Fear is a natural reaction during a pandemic. However, anxiety and panic ensure when fear jumps on the emotional rollercoaster and speeds up and down with uncertainty. Fear of the unknown can paralyze logical thinking. The unexpected can derail us and catapult us into a brain hullabaloo. The fight, flight, or freeze response begins in the amygdala, which is an almond-shaped bundle of neurons that forms part of the limbic system in the brain.

“You are not your emotions. Emotions are, by their very nature, strong. However, it’s important to get clear that you are not your emotions. You are a person with values and commitments who happens to have emotions that are triggered on a regular and ongoing basis. This point might seem semantic, but it isn’t. When we become fused to our emotions – thinking that ‘they’ and ‘we’ are one and the same thing – we are effectively hijacked by them. If you can notice emotions without becoming them, they no longer determine your behavior.” Visit www.psychologytoday.com.

Beliefs, perception, and perspective are created inside the amazing skull setting on the neck. Challenge scary thoughts instead of inviting them in for a tea party. You are the boss of your brain. And thoughts are just thoughts. When you can’t control the situation, you can change how you think about the situation.

The brain is connected to the body. What is healthy for the brain is also healthy for the body. What is healthy for the body is also healthy for the brain. Hydration, sleep, creativity, fresh air, nature walks, having fun with children, petting animals.

Replace fear with faith. Replace panic with prayer. Rekindle hope in humanity.

Your brain is your best friend—so take care to treat it well during stressful times.

“I beg you take courage; the brave soul can mend even disaster.”—Catherine the Great

Melissa Martin, Ph.D., is an author, columnist, educator, and therapist. She lives in US.