If you're anything at all like me these days, life in quarantine has started to resemble the movie "Groundhog Day." A monotonous series of 24-hour increments where you wake, brush your teeth, put on some real clothes (or maybe not), feed the pets, drink some coffee and work for most of the day before winding down for some dinner and TV binging. Then it's off to bed, only to get up and do it all over again the next day, and the next day and the next day ... you get my drift.
It's also highly likely that, for some people, your dog has become your closest confidant, sans the freedom to interact at will daily with friends, family, co-workers, people you share a hobby with and even strangers at the grocery store. Instead, much of this activity has been put on an indefinite halt because of stay-home-and-shelter-in-place orders due to the coronavirus pandemic. The result? A form of social isolation and loneliness unlike anything most of us have experienced in our lifetime.
"The current situation is really a double-whammy," explains Dr. Henry Mahncke, a research neuroscientist who serves as CEO of Posit Science, the leading provider of plasticity-based brain training and assessments, in an email interview. "If we had to stay at home, but friends and family could visit, we would have social contact. Or if we were permitted to go out of the house, but had to be on our own, we would have cognitive stimulation. But we are being asked to forgo social contact and cognitive stimulation, which is a double burden for our brain health."
Adding to this is a barrage of news about COVID-19 all day every day and a wealth of uncertainty, which leads to increased stress and anxiety, says Dr. Elena Villanueva, a functional holistic medicine expert, as well as founder and chief health coach of Modern Holistic Health, in an email interview. "This constant negative exposure to stressful situations can have a serious effect on our brains."