Psychologist’s Thread About Long-Term Effects Of Stress On The Brain Goes Viral

There are less than three months left to 2020, and those months include an election for a new president—or the recurrence of the one we have right now. If your mind is in shambles after a pandemic, social upheaval, quarantine, massive wildfires, and floods, not to mention the primaries (remember those?) you’re not alone. 

Positive psychologist Alexis Rockley shared a Twitter thread that seems to have resonated with a lot of people experiencing unprecedented mental fatigue.

“Those ‘all over the place’ feelings you’ve been having?” she asks. Um, yes, I think I know what you’re talking about.

“They are symptoms of stress, NOT personal failures of yours,” she continued. “Do you feel FLAKEY + INCONSISTENT? That’s b/c your brain doesn’t know what news to brace for next, or what next month will hold.”

She went on to explain that our brains are literally responding to the situation the earth and the United States of Refusing Basic Health Measures is dealing with. She says our brains are burning energy “10x faster than usual.” I don’t know where that science is coming from, but it sure feels true based on the speed of my racing thoughts in the middle of the night.

She also says are brains are shutting down certain functions under stress, like the areas that organize complex tasks and planning. Masks sense.

Remember when people thought that they’d get stuff done while in lockdown? There’s a reason you couldn’t, besides depression. Creativity requires energy, and that energy was being diverted into staying alive:

Humans are extremely adaptable, physically and mentally, but the constant waves of new, stressful information to process is making it hard for our brains to settled onto any one strategy for survival. That’s why it may be hard to settle to any task, make decisions, or plan long term.

Things that used to matter a whole lot might feel unimportant right now. They might not seem important again, or something else will, when life settles down. If it does!

People found this all incredibly relatable and even reassuring:

After all, if you feel like you’re losing your mind, at least you don’t have to feel like it’s just you.

But as some people pointed out, this is the state that many people have been living in, either because of mental health issues, anxiety, or living in situations of high stress, like poverty:

If the pandemic teaches us all anything besides how to properly wash our hands, I hope it teaches us compassion. No one should ever have to live in the state of 2020 forever.

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