How to train our brain to believe that we are out?
There is solid scientific evidence on isolation and its negative influence on health , a systematic review published in the journal Science Direct relates isolation and loneliness to worsening mortality from all causes; the social isolation was associated with increased cardiovascular disease.
Science has also determined that isolation predisposes to suffer from mental illness in previously healthy subjects and to aggravate pre-existing ones .
Since the world is plagued by the Covid-19 pandemic, approximately a third of the world's population has been in voluntary or imposed confinement as a measure to prevent coronavirus infection (SARS-CoV-19).
During isolation, many have lost track of time and feel without a clear purpose, predisposing to anxiety, sleep disturbances, and even depression, anger management disorders, and post-traumatic stress.
Excessive anxiety seems to be the new norm in an isolated society, the prospect of which has been snatched away without warning and has been "forced" to confine itself in response to fear of contracting the current virus. High levels of anxiety can be very harmful to health .
Although we should not lose hope. Time at home should be seen as a great opportunity to improve our lives and thus achieve positive change in the world , one person at a time.
Neuroscience has discovered multiple ways to "trick the brain" so that in extraordinary circumstances such as the current pandemic, our health is not affected by isolation.
During confinement, our brains stop perceiving signals from outside that tell us that we have left the house to carry out our regular activities.
Normally, this occurs unconsciously (we are not aware of it). But, being locked up all day, our behavior changes and influences the normal functioning of our body and brain. By not perceiving these external signals, the brain modifies its functioning and begins the imbalance that can lead us to suffer from emotional disorders and later affect our general health.
The key is to make our brains believe that we are functioning in the same way that we always have , even if we have not left our homes in a long time; In this way, you will find a stable and relatively predictable environment during confinement. This will reduce anxiety levels and will surely enable us to better cope with quarantine.
Here are some tips to help our brain think that we have not been locked up all day at home .
- Get up at the same time every day , as if we had to go to work, set the alarm clock from Monday to Friday at the usual time to get up.
- Take off your pajamas! By getting up, showering, and donning casual clothes, we are telling our brains that our day has already begun.
- Eat at the scheduled times , just as if it were a normal weekday and in the most balanced way possible.
- Establish a work schedule , in case you are working at home and remotely, that simulates the usual day and allows flexibility to carry out other activities.
- Children at home should also be incorporated into the daily routine and carry out their school activities remotely and at a time convenient for everyone.
- Time in the kitchen can be helpful in acquiring cooking skills, sharing with family, and following creative recipes, especially in times of rationing.
- Household chores can be broken down to be done effectively, making a weekly chore list and spending a day on each can be helpful; surely at the end of the quarantine we end up with a cleaner and tidier home.
- Carry out educational activities to keep the mind active , such as online courses, there are currently many and they are free. Thus the brain is distracted and we focus on an activity that is beneficial for our intellect.
- Exercise our body daily , doing yoga or varied exercise routines. In this way, we can maintain our health in optimal conditions. Remember that to acquire immunity and face the pandemic, we must be healthy .
- If you suffer from any illness, it is advisable to keep reserves of the corresponding medication, without falling into hoarding.
- Take sun a few minutes a day and make the most of natural light inside the home to tell our brain that it must be active during the day. This will help keep our circadian cycle (wakeful and sleep) stable and ensure our daily vitamin D requirement .
- Spending time on personal care is important to maintain our self-esteem and feel comfortable with ourselves.
- Opening a space for reflection and spirituality , incorporating meditation as a measure of relaxation can be a very useful tool to lower anxiety levels and raise our consciousness. It is time to exercise resilience .
- Limit the time of exposure to electronic screens , except in "working hours" and to be informed of current news and events. This should apply to children as well , although you can be flexible as long as the content is educational.
- With regard to the news, it is better to limit yourself to finding out from reliable sources that provide useful and truthful information ; avoid excessive use of cell phones and the dissemination of digital material that does not contribute anything good. We must use telephony and social networks in a moderate way, to maintain contact with our loved ones and spread only productive information.
- Always leave time for fun , it's time to dust off board games, play a video game, go back to "old school" games (when there were no cell phones or electronic devices); this will surely bring hours of fun for the whole family.
- Ambient the day to day with our favorite music , the music has an incredible influence on our mood; listening to music while we carry out our daily routine will make us feel much better.
- Be empathetic, supportive and offer help to those who need it in this time of confinement, whether with a gesture or with words of support; Helping an older person with purchases or listening to someone in need are simple things that can make other people's lives better .
- At the end of the day, bedtime should elapse as it normally would . For example, a shower, putting on pajamas, doing some relaxing activity and then going to bed to sleep. We should avoid stressful activities at the end of the day, this will help our brain to "calm down" and prepare for sleep.
All these simple but useful activities will tell our brains that EVERYTHING IS OK , things are "going normally"; Our body is working as usual, so our brain will unconsciously receive these signals and continue to function normally .
A stable daily routine will structure our lives and gradually decrease anxiety levels, improve our circadian cycle and make us feel useful and satisfied (satisfied) at the end of the day.