Please Take Time For Self-Care

Folks, I don’t want to harp on this too much, but please: have fun.

It’s a word people don’t want to hear at times like this. It feels like a betrayal to feel good even for a second when terrible things are going on.

But I need you. We need you. And humans just aren’t made to hold up under constant anxiety and fear.

Seriously, it’s why we’re designed this way; it’s why we have panic reactions, fight-or-flight instincts, adrenaline surges, the whole lot of it. There are some creatures out there which constantly live on the edge, but humans evolved with a huge set of physical and emotional triggers to prevent that — mostly because it allows our bodies to give us a lot more when we need it.

To take a diversion and explain that, every human is something like ten times stronger than we think that we are. We’re all capable of lifting a bus, under the right conditions. But that kind of raw power comes with a HUGE price, and so we’re also designed to only ever use it in times of utter necessity — and that’s where all of those other triggers come in. We have a complex systems of checks and balances which ensure that we never get any more power and speed and focus, etc, than we need at any given moment, and the rest of the time, we run on standby, and that’s why we live as long as we do.

For those moments when a snapped tendon or three is a reasonable price for an intact everything else. [Image via / Steven Ritts]

Those “superhuman” feats aren’t just physical. And you’re performing them on a regular basis even if you’re completely happy and neurotypical.

Think of sports. An average person can spot a ball flying through the air, make a pretty good calculation of where it’s going to come down, and work out exactly how to throw it to more or less put it where they want it to go. And you’re already beyond what some of our best computers are capable of in terms of rapid calculation; the amount of math that goes into that is unreal.

Now consider Serena Williams. Her tennis abilities owe plenty to her physical ability, no doubt. But they owe a lot more to her ability to tap into that “superhuman” level of focus; to, in a split second, determine precisely where a ball will end up and precisely how to strike it to put it exactly where she wants it to go. That pretty much is beyond any technology we’ve invented, and it’s every bit as energy-intensive.

The Confused Math Lady is actually just trying to get her Kleenex in the basket on the first toss.

If you’ve ever found yourself completely “in the zone” while playing a game, or been in a situation where time seemed to slow down, you’ve experienced Tthat; your brain responding to stimulus by ramping up its processing power temporarily. People who suffer from mental health issues like anxiety and depression are constantly going through a low-level version of this; there’s a reason that mental health is synonymous with creativity, and there’s also a reason they tell you that they feel tired all the time — it’s because they are!

Constantly following this horror show without also taking the time to take care of your mental health unbalances all of that. It causes us to constantly run at high power and turns on all of those systems that are extremely stressful to us long-term, and it can and will take you out of the game. Humans were never intended for that. Anxiety was supposed to be a feeling reserved for seeing a hunting lion nearby, not an everyday thing. Panic was for when the lion saw YOU. We’re not supposed to be feeling it on a constant basis, and just like an overclocked chip, an overclocked brain will eventually burn you out.

Pictured: traditional causes of stress and anxiety. [Image via / Marek Vesely]

So even if you’re just sitting on your buns all day, if you’re regularly experiencing anxiety, fear, depression, panic — and if you’re amping that up by constantly reading the news and not taking time to care for yourself — you’re ultimately taking damage. And even superheroes need downtime. Superman himself had a Fortress of Solitude for when he got sick of the world’s shit. He kept a diary and a trophy case and worked on various projects.

There is no shame in turning off and tuning out regularly to keep yourself running; we’re made for it. And even Men Of Steel from the Planet Krypton acknowledge it.

So take time, every day, every time you feel overwhelmed, to sit back and relax and let some of it go. Because I want every last one of you to be with us for a long time to come.