Many of us are standing in the doorway of the next chapter in life, post-pandemic. It’s common to experience COVID brain as you venture into the new normal. Here is a simple process to overcoming COVID brain and approaching this new phase mindfully.
What is COVID brain?
COVID brain is when the mind continues to carry around the psychological side effects of COVID after the pandemic is over. It’s a form of mental residue. The past 15 months have been << insert every range of human emotion here >>. Everything you felt is warranted. But you don’t need to bring the turbulence of emotions with you as you move forward into your new life.
How to overcome COVID brain.
To overcome the COVID brain, we need to acknowledge where it’s coming from. The initial shutdown in March 2020 was shocking. It was hard to believe what was happening was real. As a result, shock alerts the nervous system’s sympathetic state and puts the mind into survival mode. There is no thoughtful or analytical thinking in the sympathetic state. The mind wants to survive.
And it did. We stored up on toilet paper, canned foods, and cleaning supplies. We called our loved ones and even people we haven’t talked to in many years. We stopped eating out. We stopped hugging each other. Some even stopped making eye contact. This became the new normal.
Human beings are the masters of adaptation. This is how we’ve become the dominant species. When the pandemic first hit, we adapted. Within weeks, Office Yoga offered WFH tips for creating a healthy work-life boundary. These tips included how to create a mindful routine during a specific time of change. Now, as we transition out of the pandemic, we have another opportunity to take inventory.
When overcoming COVID brain, it’s important to reflect on the things you don’t miss about your pre-pandemic life and acknowledge things you enjoyed about your pandemic life. So grab a pen and paper to follow these prompts below.
The Leave Behinds 👋🏽
What things do you NOT miss from your old life? What were you doing in the past that wasn’t really working for you but was an ingrained habit? This could be commuting to work, a toxic relationship, or eating out more than necessary. Make a list of the items you did out of habit but don’t care to take into this next chapter. Here are some of my favorites from our Office Yoga clients.
Commuting to work 5x/week Ordering lunch delivery, Mon-Fri Snoozing the alarm Charlie sucks. Moving on…
Write as many items on the list as you can. Don’t filter. Just write. You can edit later. When you’re done, move onto the next phase.
The Keepers 👍🏼
What are the silver linings of the pandemic? Are there any new routines and activities did you implement that you want to carry forward? For example, maybe you started a “morning commute” walking outdoors before working from home. Perhaps you put money aside that you saved from not eating out. Make a list of habits you want to continue post-pandemic. Here are some of my favorites from our Office Yoga clients.
- Morning walk outdoors, Mon-Fri @ 7 am
- Save $XX every month
- Sourdough Saturdays- make break every other Saturday morning
Write as many items on the list as you can. You won’t put Boudin out of business. Don’t filter. Just write. You can edit later.
Once you have completed your lists, go through both lists and pick ONE item you want to leave behind and ONE item you want to carry forward. This could be the easiest one to implement or the most important one. Choose one item from each list and focus on that. Use this to be intentional and live your best “post covid” life.
A yogic perspective on overcoming COVID brain.
From a yogic perspective, it is understood that every time we suffer, we have an opportunity to peel back a layer of our inner onion. In yoga, we call this tapas. The root “tap” in Sanskrit means “to give heat” or “to burn.” This heat comes from the friction of change or an attachment to the past. When we struggle with a change or suffer from an experience, it’s because we don’t fully understand it. Tapas is a true discipline, a psychological art form. When we can see an obstacle as a gift, we bypass its emotional pain and discomfort.
Trust in the process.
Since the economy has reopened, there have been several articles about “pandemic brain” and concerns of “will I ever be able to concentrate again?” If the beginning of the pandemic hasn’t taught you how adaptable you are, let me remind you. YOU WILL BE FINE. You’ve got this. You will learn how to socialize, reintegrate, and focus without distraction.
If you want more support, we’re here for you. On June 1, 2020, Office Yoga launched The Daily Refresh, a daily meditation series to sustain our mental health. This was placed to reduce the “pandemic brain.” We worked through moments of high anxiety and how to practice contentment. This series continues to this day. Trust in this process. When you are intentional about your actions and life, you will begin to move with confidence and grace.