October 27, 2022 – The pandemic has changed a lot. The way we work, teach our children and visit the doctor. The labor market, the housing market, and entire industries. Our average life expectancy Decreased by nearly 3 years.
But the pandemic has also changed something else: you.
This is not just a guess. Scientists have been putting out papers documenting the many ways in which we – and all of us – have changed from habits to health. The most recent such study suggests that our very personalities have changed.
Researchers from Florida State University and other institutions compared pre-epidemic data against post-epidemic data, and found declines in four traits: extraversion, openness, agreeableness and conscientiousness. The changes were about “one-tenth of a standard deviation,” roughly the level of personality change you’d expect to see over a decade – not two years. The fifth characteristic, neuroticism, also increases in young adults.
In some ways, this is the opposite of what should Study author Angelina Soutin, MD, professor of behavioral sciences and social medicine at Florida State University School of Medicine, explains what the study’s author, Angelina Soutin, explains, happens as we grow up and mature. The paper She calls it “turbulent maturity.” Usually, neuroticism decreases, compatibility and conscientiousness increase.
“In young adults, we found the exact opposite pattern,” says Sutin. Middle-aged adults also experienced a decline in agreeableness and conscientiousness, although older adults did not see any significant changes.
“The spread of a global pandemic was a stressor that affected everyone in some way,” says Sutin. “There has never been an event like that in modern times, in modern psychology, in which we can look at such a disturbance in the whole of society.”
Natural disasters are annoying and stressful, but they do not tend to affect the entire population. It also doesn’t last long.
“The pandemic has been this ongoing threat,” says Sutin. “It’s hard for me to go through this experience and Not It’s been changed somehow.”
Scientists took the opportunity to study all kinds of things: the impact of the pandemic on our blood pressure, our microbiomes, our eyesight, our mental health. Many long-term changes may be revealed over time.
Are they permanent? Maybe – but maybe not. We are not without agency. If you feel more anxious and tense (signs of neuroticism), you can seek help and learn ways to deal with it. If you’re concerned about conscience, practice these skills: stick to a schedule, and follow through on commitments.
“All those things that get people conscientious,” Souten says.
On the other hand, some changes may be positive, such as washing hands more and re-evaluating what matters. And the ones you can choose to keep.
It starts with taking a moment to think and recognize which changes are beneficial or harmful, which you would like to move forward with, and which you will leave behind.
So, how have we changed since the pandemic? take a look.
Our blood pressure has risen
a study Half a million adults in the United States discovered that systolic blood pressure (the top number on a blood pressure measurement) jumped by about 2 mm of mercury from April 2020 to December 2020, while diastolic pressure (the bottom number) I also went up. (This is after holding steady in 2019 and the first three months of 2020).
The study author says that stress activates the sympathetic nervous system, raising blood pressure Luke LavigneMD, from the Cleveland Clinic Center for Blood Pressure Disorders. It also inspires unhealthy behaviors, such as covering junk foods, drinking alcohol, and reducing sleep.
Even a slight rise in blood pressure can increase the risk of heart attack and stroke. But you can help reverse the damage by exercising, reducing salt and saturated fat, making sleep a priority, and taking blood pressure medication as prescribed. Another helpful exercise: Take a good look at how you react to triggers, regardless of whether they come from family, television, or social media. Levin says that keeping track of your blood pressure at home can also help. Find validated screens on ValidateBP.org.
We need more space
to remember SeinfeldA ‘close talker’ (Judge Reinhold) who feels uncomfortable holding your breath? We all know that visceral desire to hold back, and now we may be holding back even further.
Take advantage of a pre-pandemic study on personal space, Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital He recruited the same people for a new study after the pandemic began. They found that space needs increased by 45%, from 2 to 3 feet to 3 to 4 feet, on average.
The smart part of this study is that they used both real people and avatars to test the results.
“Although avatars aren’t real, we don’t want avatars in our personal space,” says the study’s author. Daphne Holt, MD, a psychiatrist at Massachusetts General Hospital. You can’t catch COVID from an avatar. However, people still need more space in a virtual environment, suggesting that the brain systems that organize personal space may have changed.
No need to enforce this. You’ll reset your pace, says Holt.
“These behaviors are fairly automatic and sensitive to change, and therefore must quickly adapt again to the new normal.”
We’ve become a germ-fighting ninja – and it can be bad for our health
For many of us, the pandemic was a crash course in virology and immunology. We now know what a spike protein is, the difference between N95 and the usual old face mask, the virtues of alcohol-based hand sanitizer, and how quickly virus-carrying droplets can travel.
But we may have been deterred Good Germs too, which means your microbiome He might have taken a hit.
“We have tension in our society between hygiene and health [microbe] exposure,” says Brett Finlay, Ph.D., professor of microbiology and immunology at the University of British Columbia and author of Let them eat dirt.
That goes back well before the pandemic, when scientists discovered about a century ago that germs cause infection. That’s when we released sanitizer, sterilizing our world and killing healthy microbes in the process.
“When we realized that and how important the microbiome was to our health, we started to fall back,” Finley says. “Then COVID came along, and we were back to being very healthy, which will set us back pretty much.”
Healthy microbes help protect against disease. and BMJ study Even it was found that the gut microbiome may influence the severity of COVID.
Striking a balance, Finley recommends. Keep washing your hands, but eat more fiber, fermented foods and probiotics, and reduce sugar, flour, and red meat. Also, exercise, manage stress, and get out of the house. He says the microbes in the environment can be ingested and become part of your gut community, where they can help nourish healthy gut cells. A pet is another good way to expose yourself to different microbes.
Our vision has become blurry
The epidemic, by trapping us indoors and keeping us close to screens, may have accelerated the rise of myopia, or myopia, Especially among young children. This is the time when you can see things up close but struggle to see things further away. The fix is simple: glasses. But if myopia worsens too quickly, it can increase the risk of retinal detachment and glaucoma, conditions that can lead to permanent blindness.
Children are especially at risk.
“The younger a person is, the greater the effect of proximal activity on the development of myopia,” says Howard Krause, MD, a neuro-ophthalmologist at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California. “But even a young adult may cause myopia with prolonged close-up work,” as is the case among law students and medical students.
You can help protect yourself (or your child) from developing myopia by getting outside, Krause says. Exposure to bright light causes dopamine to be released, which can prevent the eye from elongating (the basis of myopia). Increase your time outdoors as much as possible, aiming for at least two hours a day.
Our teeth hurt
some 70% of dentists More bruxism, or bruxism, was experienced among patients. Also, Dr. Google noted: Searches for “bruxism”, “teeth gnashing” and “teeth bruxism” rose between May and October 2020.
If it gets bad enough, says Robert DeBella, DDS, grinding can cause tooth fractures or tooth loss. If you are concerned, see your dentist. A proper mouthguard may solve the problem.
We’re more anxious (and more aware of that, too)
rates depression and anxiety soared during the pandemic. the reason? Choose what works for you: unprecedented stress, frustration, isolation, uncertainty, grief over the loss of a loved one. some Research Refers to “emotional contagion”. This is when you see other anxious people, so you start to feel anxious too, an effect that can spread on social media.
But guess what? We have noticed. a A recent survey from CNN and the Kaiser Family Foundation It found that 9 out of 10 adults believe there is a mental health crisis in the United States today. We’re talking more about mental health now, and we may be more aware of it than ever before, says Arianna Movson, a social worker at the Newton Center, Massachusetts, as evidenced by the increased demand for mental health services.
“People I haven’t seen in years have come back to my clinic, and I’ve had so daily referrals that I’ve had to maintain a long waiting list,” Movson says.
Paying more attention to your mental health is a positive change. So put the phone down and continue taking care of yourself. Mofson says our mental health needs “exercise” just as our bodies do.
We stopped catching colds
It is not true that infection enhances general immunity. In fact, infection can cause inflammation and may lead to this autoimmune disease. One study She found that a previous infection with a cold coronavirus may have increased the risk of serious illness from COVID.
“One of the things we’ve learned from the pandemic is how effective masking is at preventing all kinds of disease,” says Megan May, PhD, professor of microbiology and infectious diseases at the University of New England School of Medicine. She says take the 2020-2021 flu season extraordinarily low.
“We can apply this knowledge forward to help reduce diseases other than COVID.”
Continue to wash your hands, use sanitizers, and take care of your personal space, May recommends. And continue to eat out at restaurants if you can, even during the colder months of cold and flu season. She noted that heat lamps, fire pits, and portable stoves have become commonplace in many places.
We’ve reassessed what matters
In the midst of turmoil and isolation, the pandemic may have helped us focus on what matters most. Engagements, career changes and movements every fork. Job losses and vacations have encouraged many to reconsider their careers, leading to an unprecedented rise in US resignations. Inflation has forced some to rethink their spending – A Capital One Survey He found that 58% of those surveyed have completely changed the way they think about money due to the pandemic.
That’s one change you’ll always want to make, so keep cultivating that compassionate, inquisitive inner voice, Movson says.
Ask yourself, does this job make me happy? Does it give me the work-life balance I want? Do I have enough free time to see family and friends? “If not, outline the steps needed to get to where you want to be.