Kindness is more important than ever at times like we are living. A lot of stress has been due to the pandemic for some of us. Yet there should be no crying alone! Yes, some of us do cry on our own and feel overwhelmed and sad. Are you affected, or is your friend in need of some support? Read on and find out about some interesting findings.
We all have become more aware of Mental Health in the last few months. We had over 15 months of a pandemic, and it has been rather “stressful” for some of us. Mental health affects strong and healthy people! Nobody can escape it. Many of us had to change our missions during this pandemic and with "low predictability" and loss of control over our own life", stress has increased.
Some people have noted their sleep patterns change, maybe they go to bed later than usual, do not want to get up in the morning, some have unproductive day after day, and some may even feel that they don’t fancy speaking to anybody. It’s a real effort to force ourselves to call friends and ask for help and establish a sleep pattern. We kidded ourselves to think we had connections, and I guess it is now where it becomes obvious who a real connection was and who not. We all need love and safety and if our family does not give us this, in the pandemic without a foundation, many of us suffered more than ever.
Some were luckier during the last months and had been furloughed, or continued their jobs, or had strong family bonds, whereas many others were not as lucky. However, we all faced unpredictability and lost control of certain aspects of our life. On top of all this, social distancing reinforced anxiety and stress, as what we need in stressful situations is social bonds and love.
Science asserts that we feel more stressed or are at risk for stress-related diseases when we lack control, outlets for our frustrations, social support, or predictability. Watch Robert Sapolsky „The Psychology of Stress “, if you want to hear more about this.
Stress is the Number 1 killer nowadays. If you have watched the video above, you will have heard him talk about “homeostasis”. Basically, to be OK means to have the ideal level of glucose, your body temperature feels good etc. – that is, your homeostasis is in balance, when we get stressed, we are out of balance.
Whereas it can give us a good kick and make us very focussed (our sensory organs are switched on and sharpened during short episodes of “stress”), long-term psychological stress is damaging. When we have a stress response, we secrete adrenaline and can manage a short-term physical crisis, anything that is for too long or becomes chronic and may be based upon you only thinking you are in a crisis can knock you off and lead us feeling depleted, anxious, and maybe depressed. Depression is increasing worldwide and especially in countries where we have high productivity and where people feel lonely. You might ask yourself how come? Does the economic model not praise productivity and being busy? The more choices we have, the more decisions we must take, often combined with less control over our lives and the less we can predict what is next, the more stressed we may become. So, for example, experience people in Singapore more burnout and rate their quality of life low compared to Costa Rica where productivity is low, but people are more satisfied. Researchers have identified Costa Rica's primary sources of happiness, inter alia, as having strong social bonds.
According to Yuval Noah Harari, Homo Deus: A Brief History of Tomorrow
“In the twentieth century, per capita GDP was perhaps the supreme yardstick for evaluating national success. From this perspective, Singapore, each of whose citizens produces on average $56,000 worth of goods and services a year, is a more successful country than Costa Rica, whose citizens produce only $14,000 a year. But nowadays thinkers, politicians and even economists are calling to supplement or even replace GDP with GDH – gross domestic happiness. After all, what do people want? They do not want to produce. They want to be happy. Production is important because it provides the material basis for happiness. But it is only the means, not the end. In one survey after another Costa Ricans report far higher levels of life satisfaction than Singaporeans. Would you rather be a highly productive but dissatisfied Singaporean, or a less productive but satisfied Costa Rican?”
We worry, inter alia, our future, the pandemic and global warming. For many of us, our social bonds are often fragile. Family bonds do not mean much to many people and as we move to cities it’s becoming increasingly hard to form strong social bonds with other people.
We turn our sympathetic nervous system on purely for psychological reasons. We have the same response as a zebra running away from the lion when we wait in line at the till or drive a car in traffic! The problem is, we do not switch it off! This requires a lot of energy out of our energy reservoir. It is like taking cash out of your deposit bank account. You circulate the energy by raising your heartbeat so that muscles can receive energy, glucose must circulate quickly to your brain and your breathing increases. In the meantime, we turn off all other long-term projects, such as digestion, shut down growth, reproduction, tissue repair etc. This would be acceptable if it is worthwhile in your life in the short term, but in the long term, it leads to burnout and illness.
It all comes back to how safe and loved we feel in your life? What are our lifestyle habits? Do we have somebody to lean on, an outlet to release stress etc.?
The feeling that you can predict the future and are in control is especially important. Help those born into poor families, as for them, it is 100 times harder.
So, this pandemic came for some of us with fewer sources of support, we have more anonymity than ever because many of us have moved away from our birthplace. Seeking real connectivity and be kinder to people around us is more than ever important. How can we help somebody! Give our shoulder to cry on. Call each other, no crying alone should take place.
Finding the optimal stress level through stimulation and play, but do not let it be permanent. You would not like to be for months on a roller coaster, would you?
I hope your stress responses are fine. If not, why not come to one of my classes or take part in the next teacher training? I will teach you the techniques and because you are empowered to feel them, they will be lasting! At least get your homeostasis in balance :)