From the Publisher
A letter from the authors
The first edition of this book was published in the United States just days before a new and deadly coronavirus swept the globe. The collective anxiety, panic, and stress that descended on society—on top of what people were already shouldering—has only made our message all the more relevant, potent, and needed today. It is a message that focuses on distancing ourselves from fear, enhancing our ability to make good decisions, finding stability in our thought patterns and actions, engaging in behaviors that build physical and mental resiliency, and recognizing the healing power of empathy. As we describe in Brain Wash, when we come from a place of empathy, everyone wins.
The Covid-19 pandemic raises an untold number of questions for which we don’t have full or satisfactory answers yet. We are only beginning to understand this virus’s biology and personality. Its rapid spread has exposed wide gaps in our knowledge and medical infrastructure, disparities among our communities, and the staggering impact of one person’s decisions on the health of many. At the same time, the pandemic has sparked worldwide solidarity and scientific collaboration.
Though the focus has primarily been on the direct physical consequences of the virus, it’s also clear that navigating this new landscape is causing widespread psychological distress. A March 2020 survey revealed that 36 percent of American adults were already experiencing a serious impact on their mental health due to the virus. When 1,210 Chinese respondents were polled on their mental health in early 2020, over half reported the psychological impact of Covid-19 as moderate-to-severe. Another survey done by the Harris Poll revealed that loneliness is rising sharply; 44 percent of Americans are lonelier now than ever before as a direct result of the coronavirus pandemic. And more than half of Americans (52 percent) wish they had tips on how to better take care of their mental health during this time. Given the degree to which lives have been changed to date, it’s likely we’ll experience psychological—and economic—aftershocks of Covid-19 for decades to come.
The truth is, we may have to learn to live with the physical and mental consequences of Covid-19 for a while. The good news is we each can take action today to address the challenge, thrive despite unpredictability, and preserve our health, safety, and wellness—especially mental wellbeing. This starts with optimizing the brain for clear, conscientious thinking. As a result of this process, we can allay fears and fortify our resistance to all manner of disease. The science-backed interventions we describe and show you how to apply to your everyday life—limiting news exposure, developing mindful practices, leveraging social media’s beneficial sources of authentic connection, creating healthier sleep and dietary habits, and spending more time with nature—will serve to renovate your body and rewire your brain for navigating this new normal as effortlessly and fearlessly as possible.
We have temporarily given up some freedom in our fight against this invisible enemy. But we retain the ability to choose how we show up in the world. Yes, we should acknowledge the struggles of the moment. But we should also look for opportunities for growth. When we invest in our thinking and our health, we bring the best versions of ourselves to all we do, and can more easily face the challenges ahead. We hope this book provides you with wellness and strength as we navigate this period together.
~ Drs. David and Austin Perlmutter, April 2020