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What is popcorn brain? 5 ways it’s impacting your mental health | Health


In the digital age of today, the way we think and act is undergoing a massive change. Technology has had a profound impact on our brain and may be affecting the way our brain works. From shortening our attention span, reducing our ability to focus deeply and raising our stress levels beyond our control, screens and gadgets may be doing more damage than it’s visible. Popcorn brain is a term which is gaining popularity among Gen Z and refers to the impact of excessive use of social media and constant multi-tasking which has fragmented our mental state and increased stress and anxiety. This isn’t a medical term though. (Also read: What is popcorn lung, a rare condition caused by vaping? Know signs and symptoms)

Your popcorn brain can play games with you, making you believe you have unmanageable tasks and too little time. (Freepik)
Your popcorn brain can play games with you, making you believe you have unmanageable tasks and too little time. (Freepik)

A study published in Nature Communications in 2019, demonstrated that people’s collective attention spans are becoming increasingly shorter, and it may be due to the rapid consumption of social media.

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Your popcorn brain can play games with you, making you believe you have unmanageable tasks and too little time. It can also create urgency regarding checking every ping and alert that’s popping on your screen. You may find yourself overwhelmed even on days when you have very little to do. To increase focus and reverse this scattering of brain, it’s important to disconnect and connect with your inner self with mindfulness practices and no-screen days.

“Popcorn brain refers to the cognitive impact of constant multitasking, particularly influenced by the pervasive use of social media. The continuous influx of information and stimuli from various sources contributes to a scattered and fragmented mental state. Social media affects our brains in several ways. It can lead to shorter attention spans, as the constant scrolling and rapid consumption of bite-sized content reinforce the desire for quick stimulation. Additionally, the pressure to maintain an online presence and the comparison with others may contribute to increased stress and anxiety,” says Dr Mazher Ali, Consultant -Psychiatry, CARE Hospitals, Banjara Hills, Hyderabad.


Popcorn brain can affect your productivity and make it difficult for you to focus. It can also disconnect you from the real world and create a layer of additional stress.

Five signs that you might be experiencing a popcorn brain include as per Dr Mazher Ali:

1. Constant distractions: Difficulty staying focused due to frequent interruptions or the urge to check notifications.

2. Difficulty concentrating: Struggling to engage in deep, sustained focus on a single task.

3. Feeling overwhelmed: Sensation of being overloaded with information and tasks, leading to stress and a sense of chaos.

4. Validation through social media: Seeking constant validation or self-worth from social media interactions.

5. Constant business: Perceiving a continuous state of busyness without accomplishing significant tasks due to multitasking.


To correct a popcorn brain, consider implementing the following steps as suggested by Dr Mazher:

1. Set time limits for social media: Allocate specific periods for social media use to prevent constant checking.

2. Practice mindfulness: Develop mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, to enhance focus and reduce mental clutter.

3. Create a structured routine: Establish a daily schedule with designated time blocks for various activities, fostering better organisation.

4. Prioritise tasks: Identify and prioritize tasks to avoid feeling overwhelmed, focusing on high-priority items first.

5. Take regular breaks: Incorporate breaks into your routine to refresh your mind, preventing burnout and improving overall productivity.


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