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Your Brain on COVID-19: Handling Media Stress & How Nootropics Can Help

News about COVID-19 is everywhere, and it seems everyone is on edge. We decided to create this article with some suggestions to keep your mind calm in addition to suggesting some supplements that can help.

It seems the COVID-19 has affected everyone, but in case you’ve been on an island and haven’t heard about the issue (or are reading this far into the future), here’s a quick summary:

Back in December 2019, a disease was reported to emerge in Wuhan China characterized by symptoms similar to a cold or flu that included a fever, cough, shortness of breath, fatigue, muscle pain, diarrhea, sore throat, loss of smell and abdominal pain.

Dubbed “COVID-19”, computer models by The Imperial College of London estimated 500,000 deaths in the U.K. and up to 2 million in the United States.

Based on these estimates, media panic ensued and governments all over the world instituted lock-downs on free movement, forcing businesses to close. This resulted in wide-scale business shutdowns, massive job losses, and double-digit unemployment.

In addition to all that, the stock market collapsed, draining the savings of many people, along with stock portfolios and pension funds.

As of this writing it is still continuing and getting worse as reports continue to surface showing people all over the world suffering from isolation, depression and extreme stress. While debates on the solutions to this issue continue, there are some measures people can take to improve their personal situation. This article is going to give a rundown on the neuroscience behind stress and offer some help in dealing with the effects this situation may be having on the brain and overall physical wellbeing.

Supporting the Brain During Stressful Times

Most people are in a state of panic right now, and this has a lot to do with the images we are seeing on the media, the social distancing, and the isolation. The cortisol produced by this stress has negative effects on the brain.

It’s common advice to think positively and take small steps each day to make it better than the previous day. Continuous improvement that is consistent will make any situation better, and that might mean eating less junk food, exercising regularly, and writing in a journal.

Along with eating real food to support the immune system, supplements like these can also help:

Magnesium L-threonate – Magnesium is critical to learning and memory formation, and this form boosts neuroplasticity by easily crossing the blood-brain barrier to slow age-related memory decline and deficits due to stress.

Rhodiola Rosea – Used in traditional medicine, Rhodiola Rosea helps to reduce fatigue, relieve exhaustion and to cope with stressful conditions on a physical level.

Ashwagandha – Part of traditional Indian medicine for thousands of years, Ashwagandha has been prescribed widely to treat stress and anxiety.

Also important is reduced screen time, because the news cycle is in full-scale panic mode. In addition to traditional media, the internet is also rife with conspiracy theorists and bloggers all competing for your attention (and clicks).

COVID-19 Theories, Conspiracies & Media Hysteria

The computer models by The Imperial College of London mentioned earlier were downgraded from 500,000 potential deaths to as little as 7,000.

Surprised? Most people are when they hear this because it didn’t make the news. Instead what many people are seeing are scenes of mass hysteria and panic featuring hospitals overflowing and people gasping for their final breaths on respirators. There’s a well-known expression in the media business: “If it bleeds, it leads” – and fear gets clicks (and advertising spots).

Media sources are conflicted and reporting different figures. Statistics are conflated, mostly inaccurate and making the death rate look much worse than it actually is.

The Truth About Coronavirus

Everyone seems to have their own theory, and social media is a battle zone of people arguing about the origin of the disease. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back and look at information from The World Health Organization that may ease our minds:

  • COVID-19 mostly affects older people with serious pre-existing medical conditions like heart disease, lung disease, cancer or diabetes;
  • Illness due to COVID-19 infection is “generally mild”
  • 80% have no symptoms or mild cases not requiring any special treatment
  • 30% of cases are completely asymptomatic

Despite this information, many people remain in a state of fear, and this is likely because of the way the media is portraying the issue.

A common idea is that this virus affects young people as much as older people, but that is simply not true. A media story about a young person getting the disease gets far more attention than the reality: that most people are over 80, and the majority have a serious condition like lung disease, cancer or diabetes.

The average life expectancy in Europe (where most of the deaths are taking place) is 81. The average age of the people dying in Italy, (the region hit the hardest) is 80.

The numbers linked above come from the most trusted organizations in the world, and perhaps this information can give others a grounded perspective on the reality of the situation.

Your Brain on the Media

As mentioned earlier, the rule in the media is “if it bleeds it leads”  and it seems as if the media has been fully taking advantage of this situation without balancing their coverage with the real-world statistics mentioned above.

Research has shown that even brief exposure to televised violence or shocking images leads to increased states of anxiety that disrupt concentration and affect cognitive performance.

Cognitive performance like memory, attention span and the ability to make good decisions are all based upon the capacity of the brain to process information.

Dealing with Stress During COVID-19

The best decisions are made when the brain is in a healthy calm state. Adequate rest, good nutrition and deep sleep are the best things one can do for their health.

Supplements can also help boost a healthy routine. Here are some good picks for times like this:

Magnesium L-threonate

Developed by M.I.T. researchers, Magnesium L-threonate is thought to be particularly effective for the brain because it crosses the blood-brain barrier. Studies have shown that magnesium can help with Alzheimer’s diseaseimprove symptoms of dementia, and restore memory deficits.

Click here for more information on Magnesium L-threonate.

Rhodiola Rosea

Used in traditional medicine to reduce fatigue and exhaustion and cope with stress, Rhodiola Rosea is an adaptogen that many practitioners believe helps the body resist physical, chemical and biological stressors.

Click here for more information on Rhodiola Rosea.


Prescribed for thousands of years in India, Ashwagandha has been used widely to treat stress and anxiety in addition to balancing blood sugarreducing inflammation and improving insulin sensitivity.

Click here for more information on Ashwagandha.

A Final Word

COVID-19 is a phenomenon that has rocked the societal foundations on every continent and country in the world. Theories about its origin and effects are everywhere, and while those may differ among some people, the stressful effects are shared by everyone.

While we’re all on lockdown, we can take this time to think about what’s important, make plans, and recalibrate our lives. Rest, exercise, nutrition, and exercise are vital here – along with taking time to visualize a better life for ourselves for when this issue is finally over.

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