Most of us have what I call the ‘garden-variety’ of stress. Deadlines, childcare, parents, co-workers—daily issues that are not outside of the parameters of our daily lives. It’s challenging but somehow, we can, and do, deal with it all.
But when your mind becomes overwhelmed with stress—I mean non-stop-no-where-to-hide, flight-or-fight stress—then the body suffers. This is something that has been happening to a lot of us lately. Unremitting stress from the political mess we’re in to the frightening aspects of a pandemic has left us emotionally fatigued leading to physical exhaustion. There’s even a syndrome named for this condition—EFS
EFS or emotional fatigue syndrome occurs when someone is under such intense stress that it not only impacts their nervous system but causes physical problems as well. That’s it in a nutshell. Unremitting stress causes emotional damage which in turn causes physical damage. In order words, both mind and body suffer from the stress-assault.
I know what I should do to de-stress, we all have some type of coping mechanism that helps us in “certain uncertain” times. But when even that mechanism begins to shatter and not work, we are in danger of a compromised personal health system that poses a real threat to our physical self.
So—what to do about it? Is there anything we can do about it? The answer is yes and we should begin as soon as possible.
Most of us are creatures of habit and of comfort. We don’t like things that are not only unfamiliar, but that we view as threatening. The unrest brought about by a lack of a solid leadership, infighting in political parties, outright lies, and a lack of partisanship that is so desperately needed—coupled with the reality of the Covid-19 pandemic—builds up to a boiling point in our minds and adds to our stress. Our body suffers.
We need to step back, take a breath, and see, not the whole horrible situation, but what is right in front of us. You will never climb a mountain if you only look at the enormity of the climb. You have to deal with each step as it comes. Try to consider stressful situations in a broader context and keep a long-term perspective on what is happening at this time.
Accept that these are events out of your control. Unpleasant? Absolutely. Frightening? Sure enough—but out of your immediate control. You can do something by empowering yourself
Anxiety arises when we feel powerless to control a situation. Instead of concentrating all our thoughts on what we cannot do, we need to focus on what we can control in our lives even if it’s an act as simple as taking a walk. This simple act alone makes us feel empowered.
You also need to mentally distance yourself from the constant barrage of news being broadcast all day and night. Yes, we do need to be informed but we also do not need the mind to be overwhelmed with dire situations all the time. Our always-on heightened level of concern is mentally exhausting and emotionally draining. Turn off the news and definitely turn off social media. Take a break and take a breath.
Practicing mental distancing by reading, watching a movie, some type of physical exercise that incorporates music, or simply listening to your favorite music, provides for time when you’re not thinking about politics or Covid-19 and gives you the opportunity to take a timeout from worry or anxiety about current conditions.
The mind and the body are so solidly connected. Emotional fatigue is a serious problem that must be addressed so that we can begin to heal both mentally and physically. Take a step today to focus on creating an emotionally healthy environment for yourself.
© copyright 2020 Kristen Houghton all rights reserved
Kristen Houghton’s new book, Lilith Angel, was published in April, 2019 and is already in the top “fiction top five” by Nielson Ratings. She is the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories, a book of essays, and a children’s novella. The first four books in her best-selling series, A Cate Harlow Private Investigation, are now available in a special boxset. She is also the author of the Horror Writers of America award-winning Quick-Read, Welcome to Hell.