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More And More People Have ‘Lifestyle Fatigue.’ Maybe You Do, Too.

Two-plus years of a pandemic have altered our mental health. Here are the signs and what you can do to cope.

Even though we’re armed with COVID-19 vaccines and updated booster shots, the world is still largely in a different (and oft-worried) place compared with before the pandemic.

This, experts say, can lead to a feeling of malaise — or “lifestyle fatigue,” in the words of Sean Grover, a psychotherapist who writes for Psychology Today. Lifestyle fatigue can be summed up as “feeling stuck in a rut,” Grover wrote ― and who hasn’t felt at least a little stuck at some point in recent years?

“As it says in the article, lifestyle fatigue’s not any sort of clinical diagnosis,” Alayna L. Park, an assistant professor of psychology at the University of Oregon, told HuffPost. “You’re not going to go to a psychologist and get a diagnosis of lifestyle fatigue.”

But she said the concept can relate to “feeling off, feeling down [or] feeling tired,” all things that fall into larger areas of mental health research.

Such feelings are normal right now, and sad days are a part of life. However, a few warning signs can indicate that you may be dealing with something bigger.

Here, experts share what lifestyle fatigue means to them and why society is experiencing it more than ever. (If you’re feeling this way, you are certainly not alone.) Plus, they offer some advice on how to feel even just a tiny bit better.

Lifestyle fatigue may be related to a symptom of depression.

The description of lifestyle fatigue resembles the clinical signs of anhedonia, or an inability to feel pleasure, Park said. And while it’s a symptom of depression, experiencing anhedonia does not automatically mean you are depressed, she stressed.

“There can be a lot of causes for anhedonia or lifestyle fatigue,” Park said. One is engaging in very few pleasurable or productive activities. This contributes to a feeling of boredom, sadness or tiredness.

“We’ve definitely had a very prolonged period of that during the COVID pandemic,” she said, adding that this is due to (very necessary!) restrictions that meant we couldn’t take part in many activities and social interactions.

“Even if we’re not outgoing extroverts, we still crave that social interaction. And that social interaction does tend to bring us a sense of pleasure,” Park said.

And even now that restrictions have lifted and people are vaccinated, we are still faced with tough decisions as we consider the risks of certain activities. Our overall life may look different, too: Our friendships are changing and maybe leaving less room for social interactions. Our workplaces are more tiring or demanding, causing many to feel less pleasure from a career. All of this can take a toll.

It could also be related to emotional exhaustion.

Society is emotionally exhausted because of what is going on in the background of our lives — that is, the pandemic on top of any other stressful life events you’re experiencing — according to Dr. Elaina DellaCava, a psychiatrist at Weill Cornell Medicine and NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital.

When experiencing emotional exhaustion, “you’re lacking the energy to do things, lacking the motivation [and] finding that there are things that you feel you should do [but] don’t have the desire to anymore,” she said.

In other words, you’re exhausted and don’t feel like doing something that would have felt pretty normal in 2019, whether that’s a trip to the grocery store or grabbing a drink with a friend.

“Over time, what I’ve seen in my practice is that people are reporting they try to make themselves do things but just the enjoyment isn’t there in the same way it used to be,” DellaCava said.

After two-plus years of less structure than ever (like rolling out of bed and logging in to your computer) and more isolation from loved ones compared with before the pandemic, any kind of structure — such as plans, chores or an in-person meeting — can feel like an unwanted responsibility.

Your ‘fight-flight-freeze’ response has likely been activated for too long, resulting in sadness.

The pandemic has activated people’s “fight-flight-freeze” response — named for the possible reactions to a perceived threat — for the past two and a half years, according to Park.

“What our bodies naturally do when our fight-flight-freeze response [has] been activated for so long is they start to experience some depressive symptoms,” she said.

These will tire you out so you can get more sleep and heal from this stress response, Park said, adding that the symptoms are essentially telling your body: “Hey, you’ve been in this fight-flight-freeze response for two years. That’s way too long. You need to rest.”

This is your body’s way of trying to get back to its normal state, but as the pandemic continues all around us, these fight-flight-freeze responses are still reacting to that stress. So instead of going back to its typical state, your body could be experiencing depressive symptoms over and over as it pushes for rest.

computer

Though lifestyle fatigue isn’t depression in all cases, it may be in some.

It’s normal to feel sad or off at times, Park said, but if you feel tired or down for the majority of the day on most days for at least two weeks, this may be cause for concern. At that point, you should get in touch with a doctor or therapist, she said.

DellaCava said that many people attribute these emotions to burnout — a term that is now pervasive. But feeling down for long periods of time could be a symptom of something larger than burnout, which is generally more work-related and comes from chronic stress.

It’s OK to feel this way.

After multiple new COVID-19 variants, politicized public safety protocols and a sometimes overwhelming fear of getting the virus or passing it on to a loved one, it is normal to feel different than you did before the pandemic.

“If people are feeling this way, they’re certainly not alone,” DellaCava emphasized.

Much of this exhaustion or lifestyle fatigue may be due to the feeling that the pandemic cost someone an element of their identity.

People who love to travel may not feel comfortable getting on a plane now, or if they do go on a trip, they might worry about getting sick abroad and dealing with canceled plans. Similarly, someone who once considered themselves an extrovert might struggle with small talk or meeting new people. It’s hard to be the 2019 version of yourself in the world we live in right now. And that’s exhausting.

DellaCava added that social media makes this even tougher. People are inundated with happy images that can be tough to look at when you’re having a hard day.

“They say comparison is the thief of joy, and I think there is validity in that,” DellaCava said, but remember that “you’re seeing everyone’s best day on social media.” Others aren’t posting about their bad moments or restless nights, she added.

Certain activities can help you feel better.

Adding some productive and pleasurable activities to your week can help calm feelings of lifestyle fatigue, Park said. But with many people feeling exhausted due to their work and home lives becoming intertwined, productive activities do not have to revolve around your job, she added.

“Things that can be productive are things like exercising — so, running further than you did two weeks ago — or learning a language,” Park said. Both of these can give a sense of accomplishment if you’re feeling down.

Pleasurable activities can include visiting a friend, playing an online video game with a family member or calling up a loved one.

For those feeling unmotivated or anhedonic, DellaCava suggested focusing on self-care, which can include getting a good night’s sleep or, if you’re a parent, taking time for yourself. If you’re caring for your own elderly parents, try going for a walk alone or using a meditation app. Self-care should consist of enjoyable activities that are just for you, she said.

That said, it may seem tough to go for a walk or visit a friend when you’re feeling this way. But once you’re engaged in something you enjoy, you’ll likely notice that you’re happy to actually be doing it. Plus, you should be proud of yourself for mustering up the motivation to try the activity.

But if you’re not noticing any change in mood while taking part in once-pleasurable activities, do not hesitate to reach out to a doctor or therapist, DellaCava said. There is a lot going on in the world, and it’s OK if you need someone to talk to right now or a little extra help.

Jillian Wilson – Wellness Reporter, HuffPost       Sep 12, 2022

source: HuffPost


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The 11 Life Lessons

The 11 Life Lessons It Turns Out I’ve Taught My Six Kids

On my 46th birthday recently, my (mostly adult) kids wrote out a list of lessons I’d taught each of them in their lives so far. Each wrote their own list, and my wife Eva sweetly put them together in a notebook.

As I read through them, I felt like crying. It’s so incredibly touching that they appreciate what I’ve been trying to pass on to them, things I’ve been learning and want them to understand.

As a father, there are few things more meaningful than to see how you’ve helped your kids through your example and talks over the years. We have a mixed family of 6 kids, aging from 13 years old to 26 years, and all of them are wonderful human beings.

It turns out, there were some lessons that all or most of the kids put on their list, which I’m going to share with you here. These lessons they had in common made me wonder if these were the more powerful lessons, or if they were simply the ones I talked about the most. 🙂

So here they are, roughly ordered in how frequently they showed up on my kids’ lists:

  1. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and it’s okay to fail. This was tied (with the next one) as the most common lesson on their lists — it made all their lists, I think. I really love that this lesson hit home with them.
  2. Have empathy & try to see things from others’ perspectives. This was the other lesson on all their lists, and again, it’s beautiful that they all took this to heart. I’ve tried to show them this through my actions, though of course I’m not at all perfect.
  3. Push out of your comfort zone. This is another one I’ve tried to teach by example, from running several marathons and an ultramarathon to doing things that scare me, like speaking on stage or writing books. This lesson is so important to me that
  4. Don’t spend more than you have. This is such a simple idea, but one that is rarely followed. I’m glad my kids are starting out with this mindset — live within your means, save as much as you can.
  5. Appreciate what you have & enjoy where you are right now. I love this one. It’s something that I try to embody, but also remind them when they are thinking about what they don’t have. Each time we’re stuck in complaint, it’s an opportunity to wake up to the beauty that’s in front of us.
  6. Sadness is a part of life, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling it. Despite what I said in the previous item, it’s OK to feel sadness, pain, grief, frustration, anxiety, anger. In fact, most of us never want to feel those things, so we’ll do whatever we can to ignore them or get away from the feelings. Instead, I try to actually feel those things, as an experience. It teaches me about struggle — if we’re not willing to face our own struggles, how can we be there for others when they struggle?
  7. Don’t give up just because something gets hard. As new adults, our four oldest kids are facing various struggles in new ways. This is part of growth, of course, but struggles never feel good. My job as dad has been to encourage them not to give up just because it’s hard — to keep going, and to use the struggle to grow.
  8. But don’t overwork yourself. That said, I’m not a fan of overwork. I believe the brain doesn’t function well if you keep studying or working past the point of exhaustion, so I try to teach them about taking breaks, resting, going outside and moving.
  9. It’s okay to be weird in public. Have fun. I’m not sure why several of them had this on the list — they must have learned to be weird from someone else? OK, in truth, they might have gotten it from my tendency to dance and skip with them while we’re out walking around in a city, or to encourage us all to do weird things as a group, no matter what other people might think.
  10. Your reality is a reflection of the narrative you tell yourself. This is something I learned late in life, and I’m glad my kids are learning this. The good news is that you can learn to drop that narrative, if it leads to suffering. What would this moment be like without a narrative? Beautiful and free.
  11. Make people laugh. It makes their day brighter. I’m so happy they picked up this important lesson from me! With my kids, I’m mostly always joking, except for when I get (too) serious about teaching them an important lesson. The rest of the time, I try to take a lighthearted approach.

I love my kids with all my heart, and it has been a privilege to be their dad. I take 10% of the credit and give the rest to their moms, grandparents, and themselves.

Btw, you can read Chloe’s full list in her blog post.

dad kids

Also … from them, I’ve learned some lessons that are just as important:

  • Kids deserve to be heard, to be listened to, to be respected. I started out as a dad with the idea that what I say goes, and they just need to listen to me! But over the years, I’ve learned to listen to them, and treat them as I’d want to be treated.
  • Kids have tender hearts that hurt when you aren’t kind to them. As a young dad, my frustrations and insecurities led me to angry bursts of scolding, yelling, spanking. I’ve grown since then, but more importantly, I’ve learned to see the tenderness of their hearts, and how it hurts to be yelled at by someone they trust and love so much. I am much more gentle with those hearts these days.
  • I should relax and not take myself so seriously. Whenever I think too much of myself, my kids humble me. Whenever I get too serious, my kids laugh at me. I love that playful reminder to loosen up.
  • Dads are goofy, dorky, uncool. And that’s how we should be. I sometimes harbor the notion that I can be a “cool” dad. When I try to break out newish slang or reference a meme, my kids will tease me about it. When I break out a joke or pun that I think is hilarious, they’ll laugh while rolling their eyes and calling it a “dad joke.” So I’ve learned just to embrace my uncoolness, and be myself with them.
  • All they need is love. There are lots of things to stress out about as parents, and nowadays we tend to obsess about getting everything right with our kids. But really, we’re stressing about it too much. All the details are just details — there’s only one thing that really matters. They want you to love them. And to receive their love. That’s all. Feed them, clothe them, shelter them, educate them, sure … but beyond that, they just want you to love them. Drop everything that gets in the way of that and let it come out as simply and clearly as you can.

 

BY LEO BABAUTA
source: zenhabits.net


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Fun Fact Friday

  • Simply looking at a photo of someone you love can help relieve pain.

  • Scientists usually omit left-handed people from tests because their brain works differently.

 

  • Pretending you don’t have feelings of anger, sadness, or loneliness can literally destroy you mentally.

  • Chocolate milk was invented in Jamaica.

 

Happy Friday!
source: @Fact


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How To Deal With Negative Thoughts And Anxiety

People in the study were asked to journal about their most stressful experiences.

Accepting negative emotions is the best way to deal with them in the long-run, new research finds.

People who are more accepting of their darker moods have better psychological health.

Dr Iris Mauss, one author of the study, said:

“We found that people who habitually accept their negative emotions experience fewer negative emotions, which adds up to better psychological health.”

Psychologists are still not sure exactly why acceptance is so powerful, said Dr Mauss:

“Maybe if you have an accepting attitude toward negative emotions, you’re not giving them as much attention.
And perhaps, if you’re constantly judging your emotions, the negativity can pile up.”

The results come from research on over 1,300 people.

Those who most strongly resisted negative emotions, or judged them excessively, were more stressed.

Over six months, the people who did best were those who let their dark moods run their course, with little judgement or criticism.

They had fewer symptoms of mood disorders like depression.

Dr Brett Ford, the study’s first author, said:

“It turns out that how we approaach our own negative emotional reactions is really important for our overall well-being.
People who accept these emotions without judging or trying to change them are able to cope with their stress more successfully.”

The researchers ruled out being richer as a factor, Dr Mauss said:

“It’s easier to have an accepting attitude if you lead a pampered life, which is why we ruled out socio-economic status and major life stressors that could bias the results.”

People were asked to journal about their most stressful experiences, in one of three studies the researchers conducted.

In general, those who did not feel bad about feeling bad had the highest levels of well-being and psychological health.

Next, the researchers want to look at where the habitual acceptance of negative emotions comes from.

Dr Mauss said:

“By asking parents about their attitudes about their children’s emotions, we may be able to predict how their children feel about their emotions, and how that might affect their children’s mental health.”

The study was published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Ford et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog    AUGUST 19, 2017 


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The Natural Dietary Add-On Found To Treat Depression

64% of depression and anxiety patients saw reductions in their symptoms.

Probiotics relieve the symptoms of depression, as well as helping with digestion problems, a new study finds.

The research was carried out on people with irritable bowel syndrome who were also depressed.

Twice as many reported improvements in depression symptoms if they took a specific probiotic.

Dr Premysl Bercik, senior study author, said:

“This study shows that consumption of a specific probiotic can improve both gut symptoms and psychological issues in IBS.
This opens new avenues not only for the treatment of patients with functional bowel disorders but also for patients with primary psychiatric diseases.”

The probiotic is called Bifidobacterium longum NCC3001.

Half of the 44 adults with IBS and mild to moderate anxiety or depression took a daily dose.
Over 10 weeks those taking the probiotic showed improvements in their IBS and depression and anxiety.

64% of those taking the probiotics showed psychological improvements compared with just 32% in the placebo group.

Brain scans revealed changes in multiple brain areas related to mood control.

Dr Bercik said:

“This is the result of a decade long journey — from identifying the probiotic, testing it in preclinical models and investigating the pathways through which the signals from the gut reach the brain.”

The study’s first author, Dr. Maria Pinto Sanchez, added:

“The results of this pilot study are very promising but they have to be confirmed in a future, larger scale trial.”

Other studies have also shown that probiotics have promise in treating depression.

One mouse study in which they were fed Lactobacillus, found that the probiotic reversed  their depression.

Another study found that a multispecies probiotic helped stop sadness from turning into depression.

Recent studies have repeatedly underlined the importance of diet for how we feel.

The new study was published in the journal Gastroenterology (Pinto-Sanchez et al., 2017).

source: PsyBlog


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Pass The Ice Cream, Bridget Jones: Men Take Breakups Harder Than We Think

By Yanan Wang    August 20, 2015

You know the scene: A forlorn young woman walks to the fridge, grabs a pint of Ben & Jerry’s and eats straight from the container, dripping spoon in hand. The audience gets the message loud and clear: This girl’s been dumped.

Meanwhile, her ex-boyfriend is probably shrugging off the split and hitting the nearest bar, looking for an immediate rebound.

When it comes to breakups, we tend to think that women are devastated while men quickly move on. But a new study from researchers at Binghamton University and University College London reveals that breakups actually hit men harder than women.

The study, which surveyed 5,705 people in 96 countries, found that women may feel more immediate heartbreak at the end of a relationship, but men experience greater emotional trauma over time.

Many male respondents seemed to have never gotten over certain breakups, even decades later.

“When you move from the numbers to the actual stories, you can see that women are clearly talking about something in the past,” said Craig Morris, the anthropologist who led the study. “But when you read men’s responses, you never get that sense of closure — the breakup is always something that they’re just dealing with. It’s a constant wound, even if they’re now married with grandkids.”

This was also true for the respondents (nearly a third of the total) who identified as not exclusively heterosexual.

Morris attributes men’s lingering pain with the expectation in Western culture that they should be “tough.” (The majority of responses came from the United States, Britain and Germany.) Whereas women usually have strong support systems to get them through difficult times, it’s rarer that men will express vulnerability with their friends.

“If a guy shows up for Call of Duty night while his friends are all on the Xbox and he says, ‘Guys, I’m kind of sad, I really can’t play tonight,’” Morris said, “then the guys just say, ‘Oh okay, see you later.’ ”

“They’re probably thinking, ‘What do we say? What do we do?’ ” Morris said.

So give it up to your girlfriends, girls. They’re saving you from the miserable fate of not being able to talk about your feelings.

sad man

Meanwhile, many of the men surveyed described still being upset years later.

One respondent from Britain wrote: “Although I’m 63 and have not seen this person for 40 years, I still think of her regularly and imagine myself in conversation and love situations with her.”

Even though he is now married to someone else, he hasn’t been able to stop loving her. When he feels close to truly getting over it, something will once again trigger a sense of loss and the pain returns.

“I have never stopped thinking of her as my girlfriend although the only way I can express my love is in silent acceptance of the situation because she is happily married to someone else,” he wrote.

A respondent in Turkey feels his pain: “She cheat and after I breakup with her suddenly I will wake up [in the middle of the night]. I feel like [sic] I paralyzed in the whole body.”

Compare this to an American woman’s description of her breakup with her first boyfriend of 15 years. She summed up being dumped in one sentence: “It had a lasting impression on me, mostly negative.”

But she moved past it long ago. “I’ve seen him since, but even his mannerisms kind of make me sick now, and make me realize that some bad things happen for a reason,” she wrote. “My husband and I are very happy and very devoted to each other. Yay for me!”

The difference between how male and female respondents coped with their breakups runs counter to what evolutionary biology teaches us.

Since men can have as many children as they want with as many partners as they want, there’s no need to for them to be choosy like women, who only get a few chances to reproduce with the right person. So it makes sense if men move on quickly — they have less to lose from picking the wrong mate.

But this study reveals that men’s hearts can supersede their biology, Morris said.

“They do fall in love,” he said, “and when that person is gone, men can get very, very sad.”


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This Supplement May Stop Sadness Becoming Depression

How four weeks of supplementation can help stop a sad mood getting worse.

Probiotics may stop sadness turning into depression by helping people let go of the past, a new study finds.

Researchers at the Leiden Institute of Brain and Cognition found that probiotics stopped people ruminating so much.

Rumination is when people focus on bad experiences and feelings from the past.

Dr Laura Steenbergen, the study’s first author, said:

“Rumination is one of the most predictive vulnerability markers of depression.
Persistent ruminative thoughts often precede and predict episodes of depression.”

In the study 40 people were given a sachet to take with water or milk every day for four weeks.

Half of the people received sachets that contained a multispecies probiotic.

The other half received a placebo for the four weeks.

Before and afterwards people’s so-called ‘cognitive reactivity’ was measured.

‘Cognitive reactivity’ is the extent to which a sad mood can turn into something more serious.

depression

The authors explained the results:

“…in the probiotics supplementation condition participants perceived themselves to be less distracted by aggressive and ruminative thoughts when in a sad mood.”

In other words, when people felt sad, those taking the probiotics ruminated less.

The authors write:

“…studies have shown that the tendency to engage in ruminative thoughts is sufficient to turn mood fluctuations into depressive episodes, and that individuals who typically respond to low mood by ruminating about possible causes and consequences of their state have more difficulties in recovering from depression.”

Probiotics have been increasingly linked to good mental health.

But this is the first study to identify this specific link.

Dr Lorenza Colzato, another of the study’s authors, said:

“Even if preliminary, these results provide the first evidence that the intake of probiotics may help reduce negative thoughts associated with sad mood.
As such, our findings shed an interesting new light on the potential of probiotics to serve as adjuvant or preventive therapy for depression.”

The research is published in the journal  Brain, Behavior, and Immunity (Steenbergen et al., 2015).

source: PsyBlog