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I got an email today that said: “It’s official: moms have technically, scientifically lost our minds. We knew it.”
Not only did it pique my interest (and make me chuckle… because… yeahhhhh we know!) but it sent me right into researcher mode. I had to dive in and learn more about this new clinical term “pandemic brain” not to be confused with COVID brain, how it’s impacting us, and what we can do about it. So I’m here to share my research and how I can help you cope with this new phenomenon.
What is Pandemic Brain?
Pandemic brain is the fogginess, forgetfulness, and inability to focus due to the emotional stress we’ve been under during this pandemic. The stress is more than we’ve handled before and has led to unheard of burnout rates for parents, but more specifically, working moms….. because you know we’re innately taking on most of that to do list.
It’s forced us to:
- Always be on
- Bounce from work to kids to life in moments
- Makes it hard to focus
Penn Medicine says: It has literally changed how we think:
- Accomplish everyday tasks
Read that again…. it affects how we think, plan and accomplish our tasks…. that means Pandemic Brain is effecting our ability to get things done.
… Scientifically, our brains can’t shut off.
According assistant professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Lily Brown, PhD, “the stress from the pandemic has overblown our emotions. When our emotions become overblown, parts of the brain in charge of executive function do not communicate as well with the emotional parts of the brain — the disconnect can cause people to have trouble focusing or controlling impulses.”
Symptoms of Pandemic Brain
Here’s what you need to look for:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Short term memory issues
- Trouble focusing
- Diminished ability to multitask…. (which is fine since that’s a stressful way to live anyways >> we prefer our days to be spacious instead)
- Trouble completing tasks and planning
- Feeling extra sleepy, scattered, or confused
Sooooo a lot of what we feel regardless of a pandemic as a mompreneur lol. But these symptoms are all being exacerbated with the current situation.
According to the American Psychological Association, 84% of parents are now experiencing a mental health effect like anxiety, sadness, anger or overwhelm. It’s pushed over 3 million workers (especially women) out of the workforce or forced part of 40% of the workforce to scale back in order to handle it all…. it’s a really challenging time.
IT’S NOT YOUR FAULT. IT IS WHAT IT IS. GOOD NEWS IS, IT’S DIFFERENT FOR MOMPRENEURS LIKE US…. AND WE CAN COMBAT THIS.
Pandemic Brain in Mompreneurs
I’m guessing as a Mompreneur your current schedule might not look much different than your pre-pandemic one did. If you’re like me, you were already working from home, balancing your time with the kids, and making sure your home life was as comfortable as possible.
The major difference, however, has been two-fold:
- The lack of support (childcare, activities, seeing family and friends, networking)
- The emotional impact of living through a global pandemic… Let’s be honest, it’s been frightening at times
But we, as Mompreneurs, have an edge. We’re partially used to this lifestyle AND we’re in control (for the most part.) We can dictate our schedules, we can work less or more or at any point in the day, we can pivot based on our needs, we can do what we need to do to “balance” it all. Just saying that, lifts a little bit of the weight off.
We certainly have Pandemic Brain but we can more easily cope with it versus a traditional 9 to 5 working mom who has a boss, protocols and a corporate agenda to answer to.
We can get things in order, we can stop, be still (check out this post to learn more about the power of stillness) and refocus on what we and our families need right now, we can restructure our days and what we’re doing to best suit our needs and THAT is part of the freedom we have.
You might be thinking now “Okay, I get that I have more flexibility, but I still need help structuring my days and warding off Pandemic Brain…. How do I do it?”
Coping with Pandemic Brain
So how do we cope with pandemic brain as best we can? How do we use the freedom that we have as mompreneurs, to do less of the things we don’t care about, less of the things that don’t matter to us, and more of what matters most? How can we focus on getting into our offices, getting the job done, and doing that impactful work instead of being pushed out of work from this craziness? Most importantly, how can we we avoid burn out and overwhelm and start living our days confidently, happily, and spaciously while thriving in both our businesses and as a parent?
Well I’m SUPER excited to share that the experts and research are saying the main coping mechanisms to combat Pandemic Brain are THE EXACT STEPS I walk women through in my TIME FREEDOM FORMULA (the method I teach mompreneurs to add hours back to their days, lose the overwhelm, mom guilt, and anxiety and start feeling comfortable and confident in making decisions, being present, and having better focus throughout their day. (click here to learn more about my Time Freedom Formula)
The three main coping mechanisms that experts are talking about are:
First and foremost, putting as much support in place for yourself as you can will start alleviating your pandemic brain. This can be a little hard in terms of childcare and things like that, however, support doesn’t just look like childcare. It also looks like mental support for yourself.
The research suggests that simply brain dumping, expressing the emotions you’re feeling and having somebody to talk to and lean on allows you to gradually lift that weight of stress off of you. Experts are saying support looks like connection, like finding like-minded women you can essentially just vent to and be like: “Hey, here’s what’s going on with me- what’s going on with you? What strategies are working for you? Here’s what’s working for me.” Having support like that, where we’re all working together to help each other thrive and be our best, helps take the edge off of your pandemic brain.
The next thing they talked about, not surprising of course, is self-care. You might be thinking to yourself “Yeah I know that I need some self-care but how in the world am I going to find time for it!?” (Click here to find out how to access the Holy Grail of Me Time)
When it comes to self-care the research shows that even the smallest thing like getting outside, writing for a few minutes in your journal or eating well, count as self-care. The point is to make sure you’re doing things to reset, fill your cup back up and that aren’t depleting your energy and making you feel guilty of all the things you’re not doing on your to do list while taking time to better yourself. It’s critical to managing this stress.
Last but not least you need some strategies to cope with all that’s going on.
Common strategies mentioned by experts in the research are:
- USING ALL THE RESOURCES AVAILABLE TO YOU- whether that’s extra support or activities at your kid’s school, your neighborhood, using online resources or joining some business groups- there’s a wealth of information out there so don’t forget to utilize it
- ROUTINES- I’m not a fan of routines, I prefer rhythms instead (you can read more about the difference here soon!) Regardless, the research shows that reworking the way you spend your day and time so it’s intentional is key to coping with Pandemic Brain. (It helps you make decisions and know what’s next too!)
- LIVING IN THE MOMENT- Being present was talked about again and again and it makes sense. Instead of having “squirrel” moments, constantly escaping and being distracted by whatever pops in our face next, we can instead take a deep breath and focus on what’s in front of us to curb the distracted symptoms of pandemic brain. (It’ll help you feel calmer in your day too.)
- PRIORITIZING + ORGANIZING- I know this can be a challenge for most people because it’s either emotional or you’re unsure how to do it (If that’s you- shoot me an email here saying I need help prioritizing. I’m working on something special to help you easily do this!)
Now my challenge to you is to choose ONE of these coping mechanism that feels easiest to you and put it into action today. It’ll be one small but mighty step towards clearing the clutter in your brain, becoming more focused and present and feeling less stress and emotion in this trying time.
And if you are ready for help doing that- I’ve got you.
Using my 3 main pillars: STRATEGY, COMMUNITY, and SELF-CARE, I can help you navigate Mompreneurship with ease. It’s time to get your schedule and priorities in order so you can confidently make decisions, feel focused and present throughout your day, pare back that mom guilt, anxiety, and stress and start living your life just the way you want to…. because that’s why we became mompreneurs to begin with… for the FREEDOM!
Ready to learn more? Check out my DESIGN YOUR PERFECT DAYS WORKSHOP here.