Feeling scatterbrained during a pandemic is normal, experts say

Stress, as experts say, is an integral part of a pandemic, and can cause disturbed attention, memory, sleep, and breathing. This exactly the stress of a pandemic that puts our brains in a fight or flight mode. And again, experts say that all this is normal during a pandemic.


Mignon Fogarty was a few weeks into quarantine when she got into the shower with her glasses on. The author and host of the podcast “Grammar Girl” shared the experience on Twitter, where dozens of people replied with their own stress-induced scatterbrained moments: forgetting their own phone numbers, washing faces with hair conditioner, spooning powdered baby formula into the coffee maker instead of coffee.


“I’ve become noticeably forgetful, and I’m not sleeping well,” Fogarty said of life in self-isolation from her home in Reno, Nev. “In last night’s dream, I was responsible for taking care of a child who kept touching dirty things in public and rubbing his hands on my face while I sat there thinking about how our whole family was going to die.”




Fogarty is not alone in this. Many are in isolation all over the world, which is because of the order of the authorities and because of the recommendation of the authorities. As a result, millions of people now find themselves cut off from their normal routines and support networks. At the same time home schooling children, managing households in lockdown, caring for loved ones and grappling with serious fears about the health and safety of their community.


“We are having to process a lot more than we normally do, all at once,” said Lisa Olivera, a marriage and family therapist based in Berkeley, Calif. “What we are experiencing could be considered a collective trauma, as it is impacting the entire world in ways that are at best disruptive and, at worst, deadly.”


Goofs like getting into the shower with glasses on happen when multiple stressors rupture the normal mechanisms of attention and memory formation. Consequently, due to these stressors, we feel that our breasts are strained and tight and we may think that we are lying in the early stages of COVID - 19, but it is not so, we are in a very stressful state. Again, this condition can contribute to a fall in immunity and our vulnerability to more easily succumb to the actual virus.

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