This is your brain on pandemic: What chronic stress is doing to us

Stephanie Hogan · CBC News · Posted: Apr 01

More than half of Canadians report increased stress during the pandemic — and it’s the kind of chronic and unpredictable stress that tends to leave people unfocussed and unproductive. (Shutterstock)

[Excerpt] April 1 Back in the 1980s, there was a public service announcement on TV that you may remember — or may have seen on YouTube.

A guy in a kitchen held up an egg and said, “This is your brain.” Then he cracked the egg into a hot frying pan, and said, “This is your brain on drugs.”

One year into this pandemic, your brain might be feeling a bit like that egg: Fried.

“Everything is so much harder,” said Stephanie Johnson, a client relationship executive who lives in Toronto. “I don’t have the motivation that I used to have. I don’t have the efficiency that I used to have.”

“Defeated” is how Vas Smountas, a freelance graphic designer, describes it. Also living in Toronto, she describes herself these days as “tired, defeated, foggy, unmotivated.”

And research suggests those feelings are not uncommon right now, as the chronic stress of the pandemic has both affected our brains — and robbed us of normal, healthy ways to cope.

This is your brain on pandemic: What chronic stress is doing to us

Read more from CBC News’ Stephanie Hogan on why a year of ‘daily, unpredictable, malignant stress’ can actually affect our brain tissue.