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A dense cloud falls over your brain as you sit isolated in your childhood bedroom or college apartment. The cloud stays there for months, leaving you constantly tired, scatter-brained, and lacking motivation to complete even the most remedial tasks. The “fog” has taken over your mind and body, leaving you with a bad case of “The Quarantine Brain.”

Photo by Edwin Hooper from Unsplash

The COVID-19 pandemic has greatly impacted us in a number of ways. First, it has completely changed the dynamic of our everyday lives. Gone are the normal face-to-face social interactions replaced with the engaging, yet draining Zoom conference calls. Staring at a screen for hours upon hours everyday takes a toll on your mind and body. You grow lethargic and become prone to headaches/migraines, as well as back and joint pain from sitting down at a table or desk all day, everyday. These may seem like one of the thousand symptoms of COVID-19, but in reality it is your body trying to communicate to you that you are spending too much time in front of a screen.

But let’s be real, in today’s day and age there is no way to prevent our screen-time exposure. In some ways, the internet and technology is a real blessing. It allows for us to communicate instantly with people on the other side of the world and attend high school and college classes from the comfort of our very own bedrooms. However, with all the benefits that technological advances have given us during this pandemic, they’ve prevented us from engaging in face-to-face contact with other human beings; interactions that our bodies are evolved to crave and seek out.

Original Illustration Designed in Canva for Her Campus Media

People aren’t used to being isolated from other human beings for an extended period of time. Studies have shown that people who isolate themselves from society for months on end have discovered that these people lose their sense of humanity and begin to seek out companionship in inanimate objects (think Wilson the Volleyball from Castaway.) The extreme feelings of loneliness you’ve probably experienced during quarantine are a direct result of your body needing companionship in order to function properly. These feelings of loneliness are also responsible for another negative effect of “The Quarantine Brain”: The Quarantine-15.

a woman sits on the edge of a deck overlooking the forest
Chris Ainsworth | Unsplash

Loneliness is physically and psychologically draining. The emptiness you experience when you are lonely is believed to be biologically similar to that of hunger. When you are lonely, your body experiences feelings similar to ones you experience while you are hungry, causing your body to seek out food as a result. Emotions (i.e. depression, loneliness, etc.) can also leave you feeling scatter-brained, struggling to have a clear thought and find motivation to complete simple day to day activities.

When you’re isolated from other people like during quarantine, you become forgetful and pretty much absent-minded. This isn’t intentional, it’s just another one of your body’s responses to the lacking social-interaction and need for a somewhat constant day-to-day routine. You may forget to turn your straightener on when doing your hair or walk into your shower with your socks still on. The scatter-brained feeling can be somewhat prevented however, you just need to implement things in your quarantine life that resemble everyday activities you used to do before the pandemic began.

sticky note that has "Stay home" written on it

This pandemic is far from over; we will be experiencing the repercussions of the disease, quarantine, and self-isolation for many years into the future. COVID-19 is not something to be put on the back-burner now that we’re starting to get a semblance of what life used to be like, because in reality, life will probably never go back to the “normal” we had before. “The Quarantine Brain” is just as real as this virus is, its effects on one’s mental health is unlike anything doctors and psychologists have ever seen. We all need to do our part to stop the spread of the virus and help people suffering from its psychological counterpart. There are other things to do besides going out in large groups, remember to stay home and wear your mask, because this quarantine is here for the long-haul.

Alexandra Brooks

Virginia Tech '22

Alexandra is a senior at Virginia Tech studying Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Political Science. A 5'2-ish Canadian-American who will stop whatever she is doing to go pet a dog, Alexandra chooses to live everyday by the motto, "Just be yourself." When not stressing out over her major or writing for Her Campus, Alexandra can be found working out, reading, listening to music, and hanging out with her friends and family.
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