The latest research is showing that rates of stress have skyrocketed since the start of the pandemic and that it is starting to affect our health. A big part of this is because of isolation, working from home and the disruption of our usual social activities leaving us feeling disconnected and fatigued.
An online article published February 5, 2021 in Healthline, interviewed Dr. Michael Young, the service chief of a psychiatric hospital in Baltimore, Maryland. He was quoted saying, “Social connection is a fundamental source of well-being and renewal for most people, and the ongoing social restrictions from the pandemic continue to disrupt many of the well-established social routines.” (Mastroianni, Brian. “More Stressed Than Ever Since COVID-19 Started? You’re Not Alone.” Healthline, healthline.com/health-news/people-feeling-more-stress-now-than-any-point-since-the-pandemic-began#Experiencing-collective-trauma. Accessed 9 April 2021).
We are social beings and we need to interact with others. The inability to do so increases the stress response, amping up our nervous systems, leaving us feeling more vulnerable which can increase our pain.
The article goes on to interview Dr. Judith Cuneo, associate director of clinical programs at the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) Osher Center for Integrative Medicine. She told Healthline “That low-level chronic stress can put us into that sympathetic nervous system activation, that ‘fight or flight’ stress reaction”.
When we sustain a sympathetic nervous system state for long periods of time our heart rate, blood pressure and respiration rate increases, as do our levels of cortisol (stress hormone) in the body. Optimal digestion is impeded, blood glucose increases as can cholesterol.
We can all relate to how stress leads to poor sleep.
A new and thought-provoking book titled Wintering: The Power of Rest and Retreat in Difficult Times released Jan 25, 2021 by Author Katherine May challenges us to see the immense benefit and transformation that comes from conscious rest.
What if this Covid time is an opportunity to be brutally honest with ourselves?
“I’m tired, inevitably. But it’s more than that. I’m hollowed out. I’m tetchy and irritable, constantly feeling like prey, believing that everything is urgent and that I can never do enough. And my house—my beloved home—has suffered a kind of entropy in which everything has slowly collapsed and broken and worn out, with detritus collecting on every surface and corner, and I have been helpless in the face of it.”
She offers a real and raw self-reflection of her own experiences. She invites us to recognize the power in rest between seasons and between cycles in our lives. She asks us to embrace the uncertainty and the possibilities for growth that exist in the liminal spaces of winter.
Societally we tend to rest only when it is needed, when we are sick or forced to take a break.
This beautiful quotes captures the essence of Katherine May’s message:
“Doing those deeply unfashionable things—slowing down, letting your spare time expand, getting enough sleep, resting—is a radical act now, but it is essential. This is a crossroads we all know, a moment when you need to shed a skin. If you do, you’ll expose all those painful nerve endings and feel so raw that you’ll need to take care of yourself for a while. If you don’t, then that skin will harden around you.”
Instead of viewing rest as weakness, what if we embrace conscious slowing down and support our strung out minds and nervous systems with practices that restore, rejuvenate and replenish?
At RPG we agree wholeheartedly in the need for regular rest. It makes up the second pillar of The Method we teach. So rest and Nourish Your Nervous System regularly, consciously and deliberately. Notice what opportunities for transformation come from conscious rest.
Thanks for reading.