Brain Fog During COVID-19: 7 Brain Health Tips for Parents & Kids During Coroavirus Quarantine & Social Distancing by Dr. Mouna Attarha
Feel like your mind is turning to mush being at home because of the coronavirus pandemic? Maybe your kid's mind, too? Here are seven ways to help everyone keep their brains active during this stressful time:
- Learn new songs and rhymes. Learning new songs and poems directly engages the memory networks of your brain. Browse children songs online, learn a song you know in a new language or memorize words to a new rhyme from children’s books. You get a fun brain workout, and your child benefits from the novelty of your evolving repertoire.
- Make a short book for your child. Word play and reading are transformative for the developing brain. Write your own children’s book using a storyline you’ve always wanted to see. Grab some printer paper, fold it in half, bind at the seam with a stapler and start writing. Your child can illustrate (or scribble on) the pages for added fun.
- Do basic calculations in your head. We often go to an calculator for simple addition problems, and Google measuring units we should know by heart. Stimulate system-wide networks by trying to do these basic things on your own.
- Plan remote group exercise. We are tempted to put off exercise when we don’t have others to hold us accountable. Round up a friend or two and attend an online class together, such as yoga, Pilates, stretching and body-weight training. You’ll get in your workout and also feel more connected.
- Make healthful snacking easier. A healthy brain depends in part on what you eat. Sometimes taking care of children means skipped meals and snacking standing up. The most tempting items may be packaged goods in the pantry. Make healthful eating more convenient by chopping up and bagging your own (such as vegetables, dark leafy greens, berries, nuts, seeds and whole grains).
- Schedule and limit your media consumption. The news can produce anxiety, but we may miss out on important information if we abstain entirely. Schedule a block of time on your calendar for media consumption and then move onto a new activity. Screen-time settings on devices can help you track how you’re doing.
- Engage your undivided attention. We have to multitask to accomplish all that’s on our plate, but constant divided attention comes with a cost. You may feel like you’re never fully present. To stimulate the attention networks of the brain, take intentional 15-minute breaks to focus. Spend that time meditating by yourself, reading a book or focused on playing with your child. Allow the activity to consume your headspace. Given my work validating brain exercises and assessments, I should mention that I find a short BrainHQ workout is a great way to force myself to focus.
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