Vanilla Ice was on to something. Sure, his song was about something else but the message is similar to what this post will explore. All right stop, lets collaborate and listen!
Biology has taught us that humans are not made to live in stress 24/7. When we experience great stress, our bodies are triggered into “fight or flight”mode. When this occurs, our hearts race, we breathe rapidly, and we focus on the immediacy of our next actions. Back in the day this was useful for killing an animal to provide for our family and tribe during hunter/ gathering times. However, nowadays this kicks in when we sit in front of our computer screens and anxiously type up a report that was due last week or we sit and wait in our bosses office because we have been late one too many times. We are seeing alarming rates of individuals, young and old, reporting crippling levels of anxiety. And no, it is not because we are a “weaker” generation. It is because now, more than ever before, people are piling work onto their to do list that NEVER ends and there is no reprieve. Truly. Thanks to the smart phone, we are never more than a few steps away from another email to respond to or assignment to work on. Never before have humans been so accessible, and this has come at a cost to our mental health.
In therapy, we have seen so many individuals this year reporting debilitating anxiety. Many come into the office and discuss their anxiety as if they are surprised they experience it. This always catches me off guard when I ask clients to detail their day to me and they begin with, “Oh well nothing too crazy, just a normal 8-5 workday then a quick trip to gym, followed by a run to the store, then a fast dinner, and a few minutes catching up on notes and emails and then I try to fall asleep around 11 but I just do not seem to drift off till 1-ish and then I wake up at 6 to start it over again”. Do not get me wrong… I love the gym! However, I hear countless individuals recount their average day and it does mirror something like this. In these accounts, I hear no example or time set aside for true self-care. No, it is more than getting your nails done! Self-care is any activity that someone can do to promote health and well-being. 2020 has quite literally tried to wreck our physical, emotional, and mental health. We must fight back by prioritizing that so we can be the BEST versions of ourselves.
As I mentioned above, our bodies were not meant to live in stress 24/7. The hustle and bustle of the 21st century encourages us to keep on the grind, sleep only 5-6 hours, and wake up before the sun! Yes, these things can be great and really help us achieve our goals. However, if you are starting to notice maybe your heart is racing more than normal, you are having a harder time falling asleep at night, or you are more “snappy” to your spouse or partner, take note. You might just be stuck in that fight or flight mode and your body might be telling you to relax and take some time to breath… or to do your nails! As always we are here to help, please don’t ever hesitate to get the help you need!