Lizard or Wizard? L or W depends on WeLLbeing
“You, Yourself, as much as anybody in the entire universe, deserve your love and affection.” - The Buddha. Ever had mornings when getting out of bed felt almost an impossible task to do? A job or task you’ve easily done day after day, but now you can hardly start it? Whether you’re struggling to meet deadlines at the office or suffering a creative block as an artist, burnout is something all of us go through at some point.
Stress can manifest itself as physiological symptoms like emotional exhaustion. Our virtual and industrious lives can often get us stuck in a mental rut with feelings of hopelessness. And you cannot self-care your way out of burnout. Bubble baths or face sheet masks are superficial fixes that do little to address the deeper issues and to fully overcome burnout we have to get to the roots of why we "burned out" in the first place. We must take time for genuine introspection to "uproot the roots of burnout". Caring for ourselves mentally and physically needs to become a part of our daily routine rather than a special privilege.
There is a physiological reaction in your body in reaction to any perceived stress that is largely the same no matter what the threat is. This Flight, Flight or Freeze mode would save you when you’re chased by a grizzly bear in the forests of Southeast Alaska. It helped our ancestors escape life threatening situations, but nowadays we’re almost never eaten by a grizzly bear in our day to day lives. So the times when you’re tapping your feet impatiently in your car staring at the red signal light because you’re late for work, or rushing to the shop that’s going to shut down at 7 pm because of the lockdown, you’re activating the same areas of the brain that are activated when your life is at stake. All the energy in your body, including your cognition and problem solving capabilities are focused on escaping this one particular problem. These situations might be causing great inconvenience or problems, but they are not life threatening.
Being triggered by fear not only shuts down your higher order thinking, but it negatively affects your long term memory. It means our behaviour is majorly controlled by our reptilian brain, one that is solely focused on primitive drives of survival. When we feel like we’re constantly under threat because of the chronic stressors we face every single day, our nervous system acts automatically and instinctively, without conscious awareness. The fearful thought inside your mind causes actual changes inside your body.
Wellbeing is a key concept in positive psychology that helps us identify and differentiate real threats from the ones that aren’t as life threatening. We learn what events need our stressful reaction and which ones are merely minor inconveniences. When we’re being present and aware of our thoughts and feelings without getting caught up in them, we can deal with unpleasant emotions and feelings that arise as a consequence of a challenging situation. That in turn, helps us make more rational choices and helps us deal with those situations, rather than go into an intuitive survival mode.
Wellbeing promotes the use of the wise mind that sits in the middle of two polar opposites, the emotional side and the rational side. It is the optimal mode of behaving and thinking that is flexible and adaptive. It teaches us to break through the natural human tendency to operate from either pure reason or pure emotion.
According to Greg Anderson, “Wellness is the complete integration of body, mind and spirit.” The realisation that everything we do, think, feel and believe has an effect on our wellbeing” Not only well-being is important, but all sorts of wellbeing are linked to each other. When you come out of the yoga studio after an intense workout session, you feel fresh, you’re less stressed and there’s release of feel-good hormones like serotonin and dopamine in your body. After a soulful conversation with a friend on the phone, it’s easier to get back to work and be motivated. Ultimately, when you’re at your best emotionally, like when you feel joyful or grateful it’s likely that you’ll have a productive day.
We all have this one person who can just make all our worries go away, somebody who can solace us when we feel overwhelmed. Meeting them or talking to them is something we look up to after a long day at work. Relationships can serve as one of the strongest motivations and one of the strongest factors behind a person’s well-being. We humans are social creatures, and we need emotional support from others. We need to socialise, and when I say socialise I don’t mean send a meme to your friend on Instagram. I mean sensory connection, we need an eye to eye contact, we need to hear the person’s tone. Because we communicate and understand through mimicking. By mirroring the other person’s expressions in our mind, we try to decode what the person means. Socialising decreases the feeling of loneliness and increases the feeling of belongingness. In fact, socialising can take place in large groups too. This also invariably releases a sense of belonging that is extremely essential to hold onto. As Indians, we must’ve experienced sheer joy and pride every time our country wins a cricket match. What’s more, this same phenomenon can be noticed during the current Tokyo Olympics too. Socialising and belonging makes us confident in our ability to cope and focus outwards instead of inwards.
Working 9 to 5 every single day, every week, every month, wouldn’t be as bad if you love what you’re doing. If your profession is what you have dreamed of all your life and now you’re living it. Of course there will be bad days, burnouts and exhaustion. But at the end of the day when you feel passionate about the work you do, about the difference you make, it gives you a sense of achievement and pride rather than frustration. A global study found that people who are satisfied with their career are twice as likely to be thriving in their lives overall. But sometimes, we’re so tensed about being productive, that we forget who we are outside our professional selves. When was the last time you took time out to do what you love, be it art or travel or anything else. When was the last time your day was about more than the work at the office? Good productivity isn’t about slogging all your awake hours, it’s about giving yourself enough time to recharge so you can show up energetic the next morning. So sleep well, eat good food and start treating your body more than a machine that can go on and on without any rest or care.
Other than that, being Optimistic counts too! Because they say Optimistic people have a reason to get out of bed every single day, while a pessimistic person, not so much. Hence, having a positive outlook in life can take you much farther than you could’ve ever imagined.
To conclude, the hardships from the Covid-19 crisis has significantly deteriorated people’s mental well-being, and it has become difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Feelings of hopelessness about the future, emotional burnouts, loneliness disrupted sleeping and eating patterns, lack of motivation, etc are things that have been experienced far and wide. We are seeing a rise in mental health practitioners and services now more than ever before. With such a shift in gravity and circumstances, Lizard or Wizard is going to be a choice that you actively and consciously make. Hence, it becomes vital to ensure that you’re tapping into your wellbeing and carving out the path that you have always envisioned for yourself.
Click Here To See More