Table of contents:
- Many, having survived months in self-isolation, experienced unpleasant sensations. And external factors are blamed for them - the actions of local authorities, the lack of protective equipment, etc. Do you know that our brain is capable of having a destructive effect on our consciousness? We will find out in the near future how the pandemic and the time spent in self-isolation will affect us. However, we have all already faced obvious changes in ourselves or in our friends
- Pandemic and stress
- Pandemic and loneliness
- Pandemic and the virtual world
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Many, having survived months in self-isolation, experienced unpleasant sensations. And external factors are blamed for them - the actions of local authorities, the lack of protective equipment, etc. Do you know that our brain is capable of having a destructive effect on our consciousness? We will find out in the near future how the pandemic and the time spent in self-isolation will affect us. However, we have all already faced obvious changes in ourselves or in our friends
Countries have closed their borders, governments have sent people home, businesses have suspended operations, streets have been deserted. Almost everyone faced sudden changes - constant being within four walls, limiting contacts, changing the usual daily routine. Many had to go to work and risk their health every day. And practically all of us experienced severe stress against this background.
Pandemic and stress
The pandemic undermined the foundations, because of it our personal plans, work, and business suffered. We felt unprotected, confused, as our safety was at stake. Many felt anxiety and anxiety about the future, someone experienced impotent rage at the need to stay at home, and even for an unknown amount of time. Sudden stressful situations cause a surge of adrenaline in our body, which puts us in a state of heightened readiness for action. Depending on many factors, the body reacts with aggression or fear, and the brain commands: "Fight or flight!"
With prolonged stress, in a situation of uncertainty and lack of support, the body actively produces another stress hormone - cortisol. On the one hand, glucocorticoids activate the limbic system - our "reptilian brain", which is responsible for emotions, and the autonomic nervous system, and on the other hand, inhibit the activity of the prefrontal cortex, which is responsible for the mind. Thus, stress affects cognitive behavior, decision-making and social regulation, upsetting the balance between emotion and reason.
As a result, due to constant stress, we are in an agitated state and seem to be looking for potential threats. Communication with other people suffers - we begin to suspect some kind of malicious intent, look for a double bottom in words, and even perceive neutral phrases as hostile. We "hold the line" and prepare for dangers.
Weakened control of the prefrontal cortex leads to:
- impulsive, risky behavior,
- incorrect assessment of the situation,
- ignoring possible consequences,
- increased aggression,
- decreased empathy.
Pandemic and loneliness
According to surveys, the most negative impact on people was exerted by factors associated with social deprivation - separation from loved ones, falling out of the usual social circle and restriction of freedom.
Thousands of years ago, exile from the tribe meant death for our ancestors. For the human brain, little has changed today. We are really bad at being alone. We vitally need the society of other people to form an adequate perception of ourselves, surrounding events and phenomena. We experience loneliness like pain, thirst or hunger, without loved ones we suffer on a physical level.
Back in the middle of the twentieth century, numerous experiments showed how negatively social deprivation affects the physical and mental health of a person. In isolation, such as in prison or on long expeditions, people experience genuine suffering associated with a lack of social interaction. Against the background of physical ailments, they lose touch with reality, they develop auditory and visual hallucinations, anxiety, paranoia appear, sleep and cognitive functions are disturbed. Solitary confinement leads to the rapid development of cardiovascular disease and suicidal attempts. The negative effects on the body can persist in the form of PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) for several years after the end of isolation.
It is important to note that there is a significant difference between involuntary and voluntary isolation. The potential for relocation and the relative leeway that most of us have during a pandemic have helped ease our worries and maintain mental health. In addition, thanks to modern technology, we were able to maintain, albeit remotely, social connections and remain in virtual contact with close and significant people.
Pandemic and the virtual world
Of course, social networks, instant messengers, video and audio communication helped us to hold out in self-isolation and alleviate the feeling of loneliness at least a little. We live in a wonderful new world of distance relationships, in which almost everything is available - communication with relatives, work, business, shopping, entertainment. How worthy can the Internet be as an alternative to real communication?
As social animals, we need physical intimacy. Hugs, handshakes, smells, the warmth of another person nearby, intonation and micro-movements are all important signals that are not fully transmitted even with the help of the highest technologies, and even more so through text messages. Loss of tactile interaction for a long time, we worsen the quality of life, since without "stroking" the production of oxytocin decreases.
Our brain is plastic, the neural connections that are not used die off, and new ones take their place. Of course, this is not a quick business, but if, even after self-isolation, you maintain a reclusive lifestyle, it is quite possible to lose the skills of social interaction, wean from live communication and acquire social anxiety.
Constant online life has a negative impact on our health. Using gadgets for more than 2.5 hours a day can lead to depression, internet addiction, aggressive behavior and suicidal thoughts
An excess of information overloads the brain, the constant consumption of content does not leave room for its comprehension, processing and formation of one's point of view. Cognitive abilities change noticeably, difficulties arise with the perception of long texts, clip thinking becomes fixed, critical attitude to information decreases. Avoiding personal communication leads to a decrease in empathy and consumer attitude towards people. The rich selection of vivid pictures and videos on the Internet, constantly stimulating the visual and auditory receptors, can lead to inadequate expectations from the real world and to frustration.
An abundance of frightening information that tickles our nerves can lead to increased anxiety. Bad news and frightening descriptions of all sorts of incidents contribute to the development of depression and catastrophizing thinking.