How are you feeling? Whilst you might not have noticed much on a day-to-day basis, when you think about it now, are you behaving a bit differently to how you normally would? Perhaps you’ve found yourself crying when reading a Facebook post or viewing a
Christmas advert? Or maybe you’ve been snapping at loved ones for no apparent reason? You might have been struggling to find your sense of humour at times, or are finding that everything feels a bit… erm… flat?
We’ve all learnt one BIG lesson we didn’t expect this year – pandemics are stressful. Fears and worries about the effects of this new, unseen danger have been around for many months now. Relationships may have broken down; we may have uncertainty about (or complete loss of) our income or we may have suffered the anguish of the death of a loved one. We’ve had to make changes to our everyday lives, stopping some of those things that usually keep us feeling relaxed and happy. And social distancing has led to social isolation and loneliness, further increasing stress.
Whilst a small amount of stress can be helpful – even motivational – chronic stress such as this can take its toll on our physical and mental health. Each time we experience stress, our Sympathetic Nervous System produces stress hormones (Adrenaline, Noradrenaline and Cortisol) to trigger the ‘flight-fight-freeze’ response. Whilst this response is designed to help us respond quickly to dangerous situations/threats, it can have a detrimental effect if it continues longer-term. It can even affect the functioning of the brain, impairing the creation of new memories and access to existing ones (through Cortisol’s effect on the Hippocampus). This explains the ‘brain fog’ that many people are experiencing as the pandemic continues.
Many of us are aware of the changes we can make to combat stress, so why aren’t we doing them? The fight-flight-freeze response may itself be the cause of this reticence – when it is activated repeatedly, or persists over time, it can lead us to feel unable to cope and overwhelmed. To add to this, there is such an overwhelming amount of information out there, telling us all the things we should be doing, that the information itself can cause us additional overload. It is just all too much to take in.
Soooo… I have a cunning plan. Rather than write you a massive article, stating all the things you ‘should’ be doing to combat this stress (which would probably just overwhelm you further), I’m going to set you a teensy weeny little challenge. Pop along to my Facebook page each day from Monday 30th November 2020 and do the ONE THING suggested on that day’s post. It won’t be big. It won’t be overwhelming. But it will be do-able and might even help you to feel yourself again.
And please SHARE, SHARE, SHARE this with your friends and family – it’s much easier to do something new when you do it with others…