ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — One cognitive neuroscientist is on a mission to improve physical and mental health. Dr. Sara Mednick claimed Americans live on 10% battery, and the pandemic has only further exhausted internal engines. Her new book—”The Power of the Downstate“—hopes to offer solutions that mimic the restorative properties of sleep while awake.

Dr. Mednick is an award-winning Professor of cognitive neuroscience at the University of California, Irvine, and a part-time resident of Tivoli, Dutchess County. She believes the findings from her scientific studies are needed now more than ever.

The Biden Administration announced that the U.S. faces an unprecedented mental health crisis and stated two out of every five adults reported symptoms of anxiety or depression. Dr. Mednick said that adds up; the pandemic has only increased stress because it has forced humans to consistently reestablish daily habits.

“Suddenly, all of our schedules left. That rhythm we had prior to the pandemic was lost. We had to create new rhythms, and that’s actually incredible taxing on our brains and our bodies,” Dr. Mednick said. “We are real rhythmic animals who are always looking for habits to form. And when you have to create them out of thin air, that’s actually very stressful.”

Dr. Mednick explained that when the mind searches for routine, it keeps the body in a fight-or-flight stress response for long periods of time—coined as “Upstates” in her book.

“Upstates require energy, focus, action, and mobilization of mental and physical resources,” Dr. Mednick stated. “Downstates rejuvenate your body and mind at a cellular level, giving your heart, brain, and metabolism a rest.”

She argued that it’s critical for our health, well-being, and cognitive longevity that we learn to bring ourselves back to the “Downstate.”

Her book reveals various science-driven strategies to recharge your internal batteries in the “Downstate.” Dr. Mednick said it all begins with creating a routine. She suggested starting small; make an effort to get into bed at the same time nightly or commit to putting aside just five minutes a day for deep breathing. 

“It’s really going to send a message that even though everything out there seems a little out of your control, you’re okay. In this moment, you’re OK,” Dr. Mednick said. “And I think that’s something we all need.”