The brain has an area in charge of detecting threats against life and its integrity, it is called the cerebral amygdala, which also reacts to keep the body safe.The responses provided by this amygdala are healthy, but what happens when they are maintained for a long time like the one in which the COVID-19 Pandemic has been present?
Carina Castro, a pediatric neuropsychologist, explained that staying more than 10 months perceiving threats makes this area more sensitive and responds more easily.”The level of cortisol in our body increases and that causes alteration in all human processes, such as disorders in sleep and digestion, the appearance of mental disorders such as anxiety, post-COVID fatigue and everything that happens to the brain when being exposed to this situation ”, detailed the also author of two books on neuroscience.
Current situation implies high levels of adaptation
The high level of cortisol (steroid hormone) affects the ability to memorize and influences the process of neurogenesis, by which new neurons are created. By lowering the amount of production, disorders such as depression, apathy and negativity often appear.
Castro commented that this is related to anger responses, such as those seen recently on highways. “We are seeing aggressive impulses in the form of anger, which are undoubtedly triggered by the Pandemic,” said the expert.
The pediatric neuropsychologist was emphatic in advising to keep in mind that mental health not only means emotional well-being, but also psychological and social well-being.
“By limiting ourselves to seeing other people knowing that we are social beings, that we have the need to interact, we are forced to increase the level of stress, which is something typical of whenthere are changes. This is affecting our mental health; we run into a challenging situation that implies high levels of adaptation to which brains are not prepared,”said the expert.
Make brain care a priority
According to Castro, today there is talk of anger, but there can be many more aggressive or other reactions caused by the current situation. Precisely the TicoJudicial Investigation Agency (OIJ) has already recorded 86 intentional homicides so far this year.
To avoid these reactions, get ahead and accompany the people with whom one lives, the neuropsychologist specialist recalled the importance of taking care of the brain and for this she recommended five techniques whose effectiveness is scientifically proven:
Avoid excessive leisure in front of digital screens, especially at night:
“Lack of sleep is scientifically proven to be related to diabetes, cardiovascular problems, cancer, dementia, but also to anxiety, depression, addictions, suicide and negative behaviors. Anger is directly related to a lack of sleep”, she pointed out.
Eat less saturated fat, processed foods, and refined sugar:
There is a direct gut-brain relationship and when eating these types of products the gut and with it also the brain inflames. According to the expert, all digested foods have an immediate response in the way of feeling, thinking and acting.
Do physical activity:
Movement activates circulation and oxygenation in the prefrontal area of the brain, where actions are controlled and decisions are made.
Practice relaxation techniques:
Breaths that include two consecutive inhalations and one deep exhalation; repeat them 5 to 10 times, so that the phrenic nerve is activated, which carries information directly to the brain.
Maintain contact with nature:
This provides relaxation, tranquility and empathy. “Consciously observing a plant, walking in a forest, having plants in the house or seeing photos of nature are ways of maintaining a balance,” Castro concluded.