If you’re feeling scatterbrained or unable to focus lately, stress related to the coronavirus outbreak could be the cause, according to The New York Times. Stress levels are high due to the additional responsibilities and fears associated with self-isolation and quarantine. “What we are experiencing could be considered a collective trauma,” says marriage and family therapist Lisa Olivera.
Multiple stressors can interfere with attention and memory formation; stress can even affect your breathing. When people feel threatened, they breathe in a more shallow way to ensure the brain is flooded with oxygen; this can cause chest tightness that some wrongly associate with the coronavirus. “The extra vigilance and awareness that comes from the fight or flight response is relevant here, as we try to get through this and keep ourselves safe,” says neuroscientist Dean Burnett.
Women could be more likely to experience chronic stress due to existing levels of stress and anxiety–and greater responsibilities regarding housework and childcare during the pandemic. To handle this ongoing crisis, be vigilant about mental health and consider practicing good habits like getting enough sleep and connecting to loved ones. Reframing your choices in a positive way can also help.