We’re all feeling the days blend together in lockdown. Here’s why.
[Easter egg if you read the whole article]
Por: Brenda García, Mejor Marketing
Science explains why time is so disorienting and mind-numbing during the COVID-19 #coronavirus pandemic.
Variety may be the flavoring of life, but it’s also the core of memory. Without unique experiences to detach one day or week from the next, the shape of time can bend and stretch in disorienting ways.
“When we look back at those days and weeks where not much happened — where it’s the same every day — not much is stored in memory and time feels [as though it has] passed very quickly,” says Marc Wittmann, a research fellow at the Institute for Frontier Areas in Psychology and Mental Health in Freiburg, Germany.
Wittmann has written broadly about “felt time.” He says that while monotony can limit the brain’s perception of time over long periods, monotony can slow down the perception of time’s passage “in the here and now” — meaning minutes or hours seem to drag on and on.
Adjacent with boredom, anxiousness can also make time appear to slow to a snail’s pace, he says. While the overlapping Covid-19-related threats of sickness, economic difficulty, and social vulnerability are enough to make anyone feel anxious, experts who study social isolation say that too little face-to-face interaction can be a sturdy promoter of anxiety in and of itself.
Paranoia and disorientation
“When you don’t have other people to talk to, thoughts and ideas can get really jumbled.”, says Dr. Terry Kupers, a psychiatrist at the Wright Institute in Berkeley, California. He says that human beings seem to be slightly hardwired for paranoid thinking, and that spending time in the company of others tends to moderate this emotion. When that kind of intercommunication is denied or limited, thoughts can wander into irrational ranks.
Zoom calls and FaceTime chats — as well as regular phone calls, text exchanges, and other digital interactions — are certainly better than nothing, Kupers says. “When that’s the only way [to connect], I think it’s important to do that,” he adds. “But I think [these are] nowhere near the same as the contact we would have if we were together in a room.”.
Conclusively, he says besides missing social interactions, the absence of a regular cycle can cause issues. “To avoid this disorientation, it’s helpful to get up at the same time each day, and to follow a regular agenda of work, duties, exercise, and other activities.
“Creating a schedule that approximates normal life can help one from falling into disorientation and confusion,” he says. Going to bed and getting up at the same time each day can additionally assist calibrate the body’s internal clocks in ways that promote deep sleep and block daytime grogginess and other cognitive symptoms.
The anxious brain wants “flow motions”
While distraction is normally viewed as a bad thing, it can be helpful in assertive situations — like when a person is anxious and trying to evade unconstructive ideas.
"There are things the anxious brain aims to do, and those are not helpful things,” says Kate Sweeny, a professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside. Worrying is one of them, she says. Disturbing about Covid-19 or the challenges it presents is useful if a person can take steps to address those concerns. “But if you’ve done what you can, your goal should be to actively engage in activities that distract your brain from those anxious thoughts,” she says.
An interesting film or TV show could fit the proposal, which helps explain why a lot of Americans fell hard for the obsessive intrigue of Tiger King. But Sweeny says that the most pursuits tend to have elements of personal challenge and feedback.
Baking bread checks these boxes. So do video games. One of Sweeny’s studies found that Tetris was broadly effective at inducing movement, and the same is true of more advanced video games.
“I’m not saying everyone should play video games to manage their worry,” she says. “But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, there’s some inherent utility in turning that down, and flow activities can do that.”
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