Essential Series: Stress and Rest

Essential to Survive and Thrive Series

The Covid19 pandemic will no doubt be this generation’s global crisis remembrance.  And with greater impact since it will be an ongoing issue for the next year or so.  It will create some post traumatic stress, given all the changes people are experiencing.

One concern is the amount of stress and anxiety this has caused our bodies.  Usually, stress has two sources:  external (outside of our control) and internal (our interpretation of what is happening).  For example, 

External:  the threat of getting sick (covid19), loss of a job

Internal:  depression, “all is lost” reaction, “will I be ok”

CASE STUDIES

For the sake of scope and context, we have three audience members (all fictitious characters) in mind who are all struggling with the pandemic and repercussions:

  1. The manager (Cheryl)
  2. Employee team member (Mark)
  3. The parents (Carlos and Sarah)

Cheryl has been a manager for 15 years and is responsible for a team of 30 people.  Her department was doing well.  When the pandemic caused the business to come to a halt, she worked with senior leaders to figure out how to manage the loss of revenue.  Cheryl had to make lots of hard decisions in a short amount of time.  Now Cheryl is running a small crew and is doing more than she ever has.

Mark is a sales associate who has been working for 5 years at his company.  He’s hard working, top of his sales team, and very like-able.  Mark has been laid off and is trying to pick up the pieces.  He is feeling sad, angry, and is worried about his family’s finances.  For the first few weeks of being laid off, Mark started to drink and got really depressed. 

Carlos and Sarah are both working from home and have 3 kids (3, 7, 12).  Sarah was used to working from home, but not Carlos.  They had to purchase home office equipment for themselves and their 12 year old for virtual school.  They don’t have a very big house so they’ve had to manage how to be in separate rooms, schedule zoom meetings, and help their kids with school projects.  Carlos and Sarah have noticed how much more irritable and frustrated they’ve been.  They don’t feel like there’s a break.  Everything feels connected and overwhelming between work, home, kids, and the pandemic.

All three stories are people who are working through difficult circumstances, trying to adapt and adjust to the crisis.  What they aren’t aware of is the amount of stress and adrenaline they’ve been under.  

Archibald Hart, a renowned doctor and psychologist, says:

“To protect yourself against ..suffering ill effects from stress, you must learn how to switch off your production of adrenaline when it is no longer needed, and stop using it for non-emergency life situations (like driving on the freeway)! We’ve got to become less dependent on this emergency hormone for everyday living. 

Since anger, frustration, irritation, challenge, and excitement are all adrenaline triggers (they depend on high adrenaline to do their thing), these psychological triggers must also be brought under our conscious control. Effective stress management requires that we be healthy in mind and spirit, not just in our bodies. This is what I mean by “adrenaline management.” It means controlling the problem at its source. It means cutting off the stress that wastes adrenaline.”

Archibald Hart. Adrenaline and Stress/the Exciting New Breakthrough That Helps You Overcome Stress Damage: The Exciting New Breakthrough That Helps You Overcome Stress Damage

Given all the stressors and worries we have, life is requiring us to slow down and have better adrenaline management.  All three case studies run the risk of burning out and causing harm to their body.  They’re each responsible to manage the adrenaline and stress from work and home life.  

A few things that will help with reducing stress and adrenaline:

  1. Sleep at least 8 hours a night.  Dr. Hart writes books dedicated to sleeping patterns.  It’s healing to the body.
  2. Do some form of physical exercise.  Dr. Hart says this reduces the adrenaline and stress.
  3. Be mindful of what you’re eating.  High saturated fats, sodium, sugar intakes will cause more stress to the body.
  4. Practice some form of silence, meditation, or prayers.  Breathing, slowing down for at least 20 minutes a day can help bring the adrenaline down.  

In my faith tradition, prayer is not just words being lifted up.  They’re worries and concerns turned into action and effort.  Prayers become a way of us releasing the tension and seeking guidance.  

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