The brain shuts downs, retreats…a little or a lot. We forget things. We enter a room to find something, but two steps into the room, we have forgotten why we are there. We sit down to work or read or write, or anything that requires sustained focus...and find we can’t concentrate long enough to complete the task.
Hours…days go by without us really knowing what we have been doing, without us actually achieving anything much at all. We berate ourselves. We think we should be doing more. We can’t understand what is going on with us lately. We can’t work out why we are not motivated, why our brain seems foggy or why we feel so tired.
I want to assure you: in times of crisis, this is all normal behaviour.
So what is going on? And what could we do?
In any crisis, we have experiences of stress. Stress activates a fight or flight response that triggers our hormonal and physiological responses. Our body gets ready for a fight for survival or to run like the wind. Once the threat passes, a relaxation response is triggered that sometimes leaves us feeling exhausted.
There can be real threat in a crisis: an earthquake, a fire, a flood, a pandemic. But the thing is, we sometimes perceive things as threats that really are not a threat to us, or we are inundated with troubling news on TV or social media that we perceive as a threat or that heightens our sense of threat. In times of prolonged periods of stress or of large global stress, we can be bombarded with real and perceived threats and, consequently, our fight/flight and relax responses go into overdrive, leaving us depleted.
Just to reiterate – in times of crisis, all your feelings of discomfort are perfectly normal.
The important thing, then, becomes finding ways to relax in order to help the relaxation response kick into gear and to reduce the reactivity of the fight/flight response.