Feeling lonely? Not sure what to do? Fear not! A lot of us have gone from working in communal spaces to handling business from home. We’re spending more time than we’d like in front of screens and plugged in for so long, that we sometimes forget to step away and get fresh air. Before we know it, our mental health has taken a hit and burnout creeps in.
That being said, Adaire Byerly is here to share some best brain practices for these strange times. Keep reading to see what the cognitive educator and Entertainment Mindframe founder has to say about the effects of isolation on our health and what we can do to combat this all-too-common challenge.
The effect Isolation has on the brain
Dopamine is the neurotransmitter in our brains that’s chemically responsible for motivation and inspiration. The current social dynamic forces people to work from their home in isolation or even, worse be out of work entirely. Severe boredom, depression, and frustration spreads like wildfire and takes root. However, the root is much deeper than that. Dopamine is the science behind motivation! Without it, we have no will to get up and conquer anything. So, how can we continue to create, execute, contribute and produce when dopamine levels are wavering due to confinement? How can you make your environment a dope-producer?
As a business owner, I have to agree that working not only in confinement where you are limited by location but in isolation where you are alone, is not rewarding. Not to mention the work that exists is scarce. After a few days of repetition, it can begin to feel as if you are not accomplishing anything due to the lack of stimulus around you. In times of distress and change in someone’s daily structure similar to this, I like to point out to my clients that humans have a remarkable way of distracting themselves.
So much so that when times require the distraction to disappear, we are forced to be alone with ourselves in a way that we do not prefer: alone with our mentality. We are not just protecting ourselves from a global virus, we are also preventing fear, stress and guarding our mental health.
A peek into the solution
I provide Cognitive Development Training & Communication strategies for Professionals in the entertainment and Fashion Industry through my company Entertainment Mindframe. We implement brain and behavioral sciences into the business landscape of fame through communication. I am also a practitioner in neuro-linguistic programming and neuroplasticity with studies in cognitive behavior therapy. As you can imagine, the entertainment and fashion Industries are fast-paced, high-demanding, emotionally loaded and forever changing. There are constant challenges with stabilizing our mentality when things are uncertain!
When we think about mental health, we often relate it to disorders. What we don’t realize is almost everything we do, including things we don’t do, can contribute to the cognition of our brains which directly affects our environment and life experience.
Tips & Resources
Chemically Produce Motivation: As I stated above, dopamine is the science behind motivation. When our dopamine neurotransmitters aren’t firing as much, we start to feel depressed, lethargic or experience a loss of interest. A few ways to hack dopamine is:
1. Create micro-deadlines – and stick to it! – Even something as small as making the bed by 10:00AM and marking it off the list, shows your brain that you are completing something you aimed to complete, which, in turn, provides a feeling of reward.
2. Move your body – Mood enhancement can be shown in just 10 minutes after an exercise but is most effective over 20 minutes. This releases dopamine and increases the stimulus-response for other reward receptors in the brain. Basically, get up and move and your mood will improve!
3. Get your rest to be your best– It is natural for our bodies to lose sleep when we are stressed or worried. However, studies show that irregular sleep or late nights can dramatically reduce the availability of dopamine receptors. Sleep for at least 7 hours.
Fear & Stress Management: Fear is naturally elicited to a perceived threat or danger. Stress and anxiety also develop when things are uncertain or unclear to us. Here are some ways to combat those pesky feelings of fear and stress. The resources below were provided by one of our science advisors, psychology professor Dr. Jennifer Jones.
Utilize resources! You can download mood management apps such as “Virtual Moodbox” or “Mood Coach” to help monitor and walk you through tips or solutions. You can also visit the CDC website for advice on managing anxiety and stress.
Do not rely on social media as your news source- Misinformation and rumors are the fastest ways to exacerbate fear. Facts help us minimize fear, so I recommend sticking to credible or trusted scientific sources. You can check out the World Health Organization or watch your local news channel.
Take slow breaths when you begin to feel panic– Fear is designed to keep us safe, so it makes us take action to protect ourselves, but the action may inadvertently cause behavior that harms us and others. This includes panic, selfish acts, or over-watching stressful sources of information.
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