What’s doing your head in?
Think about all the things you do automatically, then toss in a layer of decisions that must be made as a result of current circumstances. Where do I need to stand when I buy my coffee to ensure a correct social distance? How do I adjust and work from home? How much extra stuff should I put in my shopping trolley? Did I wash my hands for long enough?
How do I suppress a sneeze?
We all get good at things through practise. We drive a car, ride a bike, and recite the alphabet without much effort but it takes time and repetition before it becomes habitual.
There are several reasons for this. One is that our subconscious mind – the part that runs our bodily functions like digesting our food, keeping our heart beating and lungs pumping without us having to think about it – also keeps a record of our habitual patterns that we have learnt over time. Remarkably, this part of the mind can process a massive 40 million bits of information every second. On the other side of the ledger, our conscious mind can only process 40 bits of information per second. The subconscious mind is one million times more powerful than the conscious one.
A good example of when the conscious mind gets overloaded is when we do something familiar to us like cooking dinner but become overwhelmed when, during this process, the mobile rings and someone knocks on the door all at the same time. Do you keep stirring the sauce? Pick up the phone or race to the front door first?
The other important element here is that when we are continually forced to make new decisions outside of our automatic routines, there is an element of stress involved. This can force our bodies into the “fight or flight” response. One of the side effects of being in this emergency mode is that eighty percent the blood drains from the frontal lobe of our brain where our creativity, intuition, decision making and problem solving is housed.
So, you can see that during Covid 19 the raft of new decisions we’ve been required to make over several months has taxed our mental capabilities. As restrictions ease, there will likely be a new set of rules and decision making we will have to incorporate into our lives and the key to success in coping is to understand that over time, stress need not be a part of the process. Like all new things we learn, they will eventually become habits.
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