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Canadians feeling COVID-19 pandemic ‘brain fog’ according to memory researchers

Click to play video: 'People are feeling pandemic ‘brain fog’ according to memory researchers' People are feeling pandemic ‘brain fog’ according to memory researchers
If you have been having trouble concentrating and remembering simple tasks since the pandemic hit, you are not alone. Memory researchers say more people are reporting feeling a stubborn brain fog that just won't seem to lift. Shelley Steeves reports – Mar 16, 2021

If you have been having trouble concentrating and remembering simple tasks since the pandemic hit, you are not alone.

Memory researchers say more people are reporting feeling a stubborn brain fog that just won’t seem to lift.

Read more: A year into the pandemic, mental health workers face burnout and soaring demands

“There is a term that gets thrown around that we call brain fog or pandemic brain,” said Karl Szpunar, who is the executive director of the Memory Lab at Ryerson University in Toronto

Szpunar said that more people are struggling to remember simple tasks and retain focus since the COVID-19 pandemic hit

“One thing that we think may be happening is that COVID had changed our lifestyle and we are not sleeping as well as we used to and we are more stressed than we used to be and these factors have a very stark impact on our attention and memory,” he said.

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Carole Payne of Moncton said she normally “devours” books but said she has been struggling to even read, “unless it is a real thriller … anything else takes me a little longer and I tire a bit more quickly, which I don’t normally do so I blame COVID for that.”

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“I think maybe sometimes people feel like, ‘Ugh, oh maybe there is something wrong with me,'” said Szpunar.

But he said the memory struggles and lack of focus are likely the body’s normal reaction to the stress of the pandemic such as working from home out of one’s normal routine.

Read more: ‘I’ve felt like I’m losing time’: The financial stress of living alone in a pandemic

He also said that people’s minds have been occupied with worrying about their future.

“Is my career going to be impacted by what is going on with COVID? What do I do with my children/” he said. “As that accumulates it can have an impact on the neuro systems that allow us to stay focused and remember.”

Szpunar says if your brain fog is impacting your ability to function from day to day, you should seek medical attention.

Otherwise, he says to make sure you get enough sleep and exercise, which will go a long way in lifting the fog for many people.

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