Why Lock Down III is stressing us out.
Updated: Jan 25
Humans have two Sensory Systems:
The Parasympathetic which I call Network CALM (imagine a steam train) and
The Sympathetic which I call Network BOOST (imagine a high speed train).
Our natural state is Network CALM, when our brain delivers messages of calm to almost every organ in our body. Our low level stress response is Network BOOST. Many of us respond efficiently to a short trip on Network BOOST, whether it's a deadline set by the boss, home schooling or triumphantly completing our own to do list. I'm no different, whether I'm #killingit on stage or successfully getting my toddler dressed, it’s because I'm riding Network BOOST.
Humans are not designed to stay on Network BOOST which is supposed to be a necessary but short burst of energy. However, external factors outside of our control like the Pandemic, lock down III, work/life balance (that's a joke right?), furlough, the USA elections and news reports prevent us from disembarking. The longer we ride Network BOOST the longer we stay in stress mode. You are not calm but wow your Alter Ego is pumped. Rationalising that resting and digesting never won a fight, your Alter Ego blocks the switch back to Network CALM, preventing any soothing messages from your brain and ensuring that you are both high speed railing in defence/attack mode. Due to this remarkable bit of biology it is not a surprise that you feel an increased anxiety about your abilities, your job, your home life, your relationships and everybody's safety. Thanks to an unpredictable 2020, an alternative Christmas, Covid new strain and now Lock Down III, most of us are stuck on Network BOOST and our Alter Egos are terrified.
It is reasonable to feel that you are not representing your true abilities or true self right now. Diva (my AE) and I continue to have regular battles over my CALM/BOOST switch and lock down III is testing us. We’re relying heavily on our operatic performance training, neuroscience study and every article on the parasympathetic nervous system (Network CALM) we can google to make sense of each day. It helps me to know that brain and body, most of us are riding Network BOOST and many of us are feeling anything but calm. Reaching out to chat about it with my friends, family and community helps me to feel 'normal about not feeling normal'. It also reassures Diva and temporarily pops us back onto Network CALM.
Calm Human + Pumped Alter Ego = Speaking Fearlessly
I am presently researching strategies beyond the operatic comedian world for switching back to Network CALM and I will post my findings with links. I'd love to hear how you nudge yourselves back onto Network CALM by commenting, posting, or messaging me.
For now, to quote Sandi Toksvig:
Take care, be kind and remember, we will get passed this.
(My present dopamine releasing Podcast: We Will Get Past This by Sandi Toksvig)