Pandemic Brain Fog: You’re Not the Only One

Zach Vessels/Unsplash

Mia Petrucelli/Staff Writer

The past year has been insane. I still find myself having flashes of clarity while I sit on my couch eating dumplings right out of the to-go container on a Friday night. Life used to be so different, and in months, everything has changed. 

We, as humans, are excellent at adapting. Most of the time, we don’t even notice how we change our perspectives to regulate negative emotions or make the best out of an uncomfortable situation within minutes. And, let me tell you, our brains have gone into overtime in terms of adapting over the last 12 months. 

It is easy for us to listen to our bodies when we are physically aching and take time to rest. We know that after standing for a twelve-hour shift for the fifth day in a row, we know not to go on that 4-mile run we hoped to go on. Yet, when we can tell that we are emotionally exhausted, we continue to stretch ourselves thin.  

This pandemic has overwhelmed the majority of society in many different ways. Whether it be fueling anxiety, depression, or the overwhelming fear of getting sick, it is a lot to process in such a short amount of time. We acknowledge that times are tough, but still, we don’t forgive ourselves for it. 

I, for one, am a professional at stretching myself too thin. Before the pandemic, I would always keep myself busy to the point that I would only go home to sleep. I was tired and overworked, yet I was often on top of my responsibilities.

Today, I am forgetful, emotionally exhausted, and socially drained from the smallest meetings. I found myself aggravated at how little I can juggle these days until I reflected on why I felt this way. The pandemic came with an abundance of unpredicted stress that was practically impossible to expect. High levels of stress can contribute to memory impairment, which explains why I can barely remember what time my zoom meetings are.

One practice that I have adopted in these times is responding to myself as I would a friend. First, I write a list of things that are troubling me. Then, I respond to those worries in a voice that holds love and compassion, as if I was responding to a friend who had just confided in me.  This action allows me to acknowledge that my worries are smaller than I think they are while encouraging the action of speaking kindly to oneself

Nevertheless, the pandemic has brought out the parts of myself that I tried to suppress by overworking myself. The pandemic forced me to dig deeper and find out that I was not afraid of not having enough money or work to do, but I was scared of being alone with myself. One practice I implore people to take on in their times of hardship is the practice of understanding, and your first victim is the hardest: yourself.

Although this pandemic came with many negatives, I feel lucky to have been pushed into a deeper understanding of myself.


The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.

Photo by Zach Vessels on Unsplash

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