More than half of Utahns (52 percent) have suffered from “pandemic brain,” according to survey by Spider Solitaire Challenge. It defined the phenomenon as “the frustratingly subtle, gradual mental deterioration many of us have struggled with over the course of the pandemic.” Utah’s number is slightly higher than the national average of 48 percent.

Nationally, 18 percent of respondents say they have been making more mistakes at work over the past year. Twenty-nine percent of U.S. survey respondents say boredom has been the overriding emotion during the pandemic, and that Generation Z has missed out the most during social isolation. Twenty-four percent say they’ve picked up the habit of being lazy when it comes to exercise, and 23 percent have felt loss in interest in general. Seventeen percent reported trouble sleeping and 7 percent struggled with untidiness at home.

Spider Solitaire Challenge said chronic stress has been linked to shrinking of the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for focus, memory and learning. Health anxiety, combined with endless “doomscrolling” through bad news on social media, has also increased stress during this time. Over a prolonged period, cortisol, the stress hormone, also increases risk of heart disease, mood disruptions and sleep trouble.

To address the issues, people have undertaken steps to keep their brains sharp with activities like crosswords and puzzles (79 percent) and playing games online (45 percent).

“If you’ve found yourself in a fog of forgetfulness and fatigue over the last year, it’s reassuring to remember that so many others are experiencing similar feelings,” said Neal Taparia of Spider Solitaire Challenge. “Our bodies and minds have been under additional stress they’re not typically used to. If you’re craving mental stimulation, playing games online and puzzle-solving are a great way to exercise skills you may not use on an everyday basis.”

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