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Give Your Brain A Break!

Patricia Faust April 2020

Brain Health Kuel Category Expert: Patricia Faust, MGS

We are living in a paradox right now.

I look up at the night sky and I see all of the stars I have seen all my life. They are in the same location, twinkling like they always have. It is a given that I will always see them that way. I walk outside to see all of the white blooms on our pear trees as Spring explodes with color. No matter how exhausted I am with winter, the coming of Spring rejuvenates me and I feel hopeful.

“We have to learn new ways to connect with others”

This year however, everything is different. The Covid-19 pandemic has changed everything. I walk outside and I see the beauty of resilience. Then I see the latest news on TV and I am consumed with anxiety. How can Nature be so resilient when every other aspect of my life has changed? The virus seemed so distant just a few weeks ago. Now it is in my own backyard and everyone seems so fearful. We have to stay six feet from each other – so there are no hugs or handshakes. We have to learn new ways to connect with others. Our brain has a need to connect with others. Isolation, in and of itself, is conducive to depression. And then there is the fear that we might become a victim of Coronavirus. For most of us, we have never had to seriously think about death. Two of my friends had their mothers pass away this week. Not only was this such a devastating loss but they were not even allowed to sit by them, hold their hands, or give that last hug before they died. This made the pain even deeper.

I personally do not like the term ‘new normal’. There is no way that I want these conditions to ever be a normal way of living. I do believe we are a part of a mass course correction. 

The lives all of us were living are not going to be the same. We have to think about everything differently. In isolation, we need to think about the power of connecting. It will be through all our efforts that we get through this.

“We have brains that are always on alert.”

We have brains that are always on alert. It is understandable that we become anxious and fearful over such an overarching threat. Our brains were wired by our prehistoric ancestors to survive. In this environment, we need to work with the power of neuroplasticity to find the best outcome. Neuroplasticity is our brain’s ability to adapt to the environment – good or bad. Right now we are in a ‘fight or flight’ mode of action. The longer this goes on, the more likely we will be in chronic stress mode with cortisol wreaking havoc in our brain and our body. Because of the scope of this pandemic, there is a need for all of us to determine how we react. It is obvious that we cannot control the uncontrollable. So give your brain a break.

Turn off the news, and look for positive stories. We need to change our thoughts, look out for others, believe that we will get through this, and our brain will respond. It is critical for us to take a positive perspective about our lives. This is what we can control.

Calm your anxiety, believe that you have control on how you will react, go a day at a time in your thoughts and remember – You Can Change Your Brain!

 

About the Author:

Patricia Faust is a gerontologist specializing in the issues of brain aging, brain health, brain function and dementia. She has a Masters in Gerontological Studies degree from Miami University in Oxford Ohio. Patricia is certified as a brain health coach and received a certification in Neuroscience and Wellness through Dr. Sarah McKay and the Neuroscience Academy. My Boomer Brain, founded in 2015, is the vehicle that Patricia utilizes to teach, coach and consult about brain aging, brain health and brain function. Her newsletter, My Boomer Brain, has international readers from South Africa, Australia, throughout Europe and Canada. She has also been a frequent guest on Medicare Moment on WMKV and Cincy Lifestyles on WCPO.