2022 is turning out to be quite the year! After two years of numerous lockdowns, we’ve launched back into the busier version of our lives with abandon. We’re trying to fit it all in. People are holidaying in warmer destinations like Europe and Bali, many are changing jobs, others are renovating, and we can finally go out, see each other and attend things. There are catch ups, weddings and parties; gigs, sporting events and theatre to see. It’s wonderful, it’s what we were looking forward to while cooped up at home, so why are so many of us feeling more burnt out than ever?
The Bad News
There’s a lot of bad news lately, isn’t there? We just passed the grim milestone of over 10,000 COVID-19 deaths in Australia, there has been severe weather and flooding across NSW and parts of QLD, the flu season is apparently our worst on record and there are increased inflationary pressures. In a global context, there’s the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, ongoing war in Ukraine, America’s entrenched problems with gun violence and the climate change crisis. We could go on, but you get the picture. All of this bad news has an impact, it weighs on us and can be very detrimental for our mental health.
However, it’s important to keep all this bad news in perspective. As outlined in this article from a few years back in the Washington Post, “There is a natural human bias toward bad news. The title of a 1998 article in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology sums it up: ‘Negative Information Weighs More Heavily on the Brain.’ Negative stimuli get our attention much more than positive stimuli — which makes evolutionary sense for survival. Nice things are enjoyable; bad things can be deadly, so focus on them. And given that, in the news media, attention equals money, we can see the commercial reason for a lack of headlines such as ‘Millions not going to bed hungry tonight.’ ”
Humans are more interconnected now than we’ve ever been. With this comes many great benefits, such as the development of COVID-19 vaccines and their distribution around the globe. However, in this information age we can easily become bombarded with negativity. For instance, every year around the world there are approximately 70 fatal shark attacks on humans. These tragic attacks always make headlines which then unrealistically heightens our sense of threat. According to National Geographic you have a one in 218 chance of dying from a fall but a one in 3.7 million chance of being killed by a shark.
The reality is, even with all the bad things that can (and do) happen, we are still living in an incredibly fortunate time. Generally speaking, when compared to the past, people today have a higher standard of healthcare and education, we also typically experience greater security and freedom. It’s good to keep this in perspective.
If you’re feeling drained by the worries of the world and exhausted from returning to a more rapid pace of life, we have some tips for you.
There is lots of great advice out there for mental wellbeing. Some of the most important (and most familiar) tips include: Getting plenty of sleep and exercise, being with loved ones, time in nature and a predominantly healthy diet. Equally important is learning to say no to things in your life that aren’t adding value. For instance, you can be informed about world events without getting sucked into reading click-bait driven news sites that present the absolute worst of humanity. Or if you have a habit of saying yes to every social invitation and wind up feeling depleted afterwards, you can work to be more selective about which events you attend. This of course goes for all habits that aren’t serving you, which may be anything from excessive social media scrolling to being surrounded by clutter. Taking the time to consider what you value and what’s important to you will make it far easier to be more selective about how you spend your precious time. In doing so, you get to say yes to more of the things that are truly meaningful to you.