The Apollo Neuro team talked to over 1000 people about how stress impacted their past year, and a few things struck us.
The not-so spoiler alert? It’s an objectively stressful time for everyone. This is no secret, and will surprise 0% of you (that part’s just a guess). Let’s dig deeper to understand how unprecedented stressors have been impacting us and how we can become increasingly resilient to change.
We recently conducted a national survey of over 1000 people for a deep dive into mental health, stress, and sleep habits. Here’s what we learned.
We are more stressed than ever before, and our physical health is showing the cracks. The long term effects of chronic stress are serious. Chronic stress strains the whole body by over-activating our sympathetic nervous system (the fight-or-flight response), releasing stress hormones like cortisol, making our breathing shallow and fast, and sending our heart rates up and our HRV (Heart Rate Variability) down. The best way to tackle chronic stress is by adopting stress management techniques in the here and now.
When we’re sleeping, we’re entering a really deep recovery state where our awareness of our physical surroundings is significantly reduced. We’re least aware of our environment around us and most vulnerable to threat during sleep. This requires our rest-and-digest, or parasympathetic activity to increase, and our fight-or-flight, or sympathetic activity, to drastically decrease. In simple terms, if you’re stressing, you’re not sleeping. Or not sleeping well.
Stress is at an all-time high, and mental health at an all-time low. The desire to get better is there, yet the action to seek out sustainable solutions is all-time low. We can’t control when and where stressors reveal themselves. But we can control how we meet the stressors. Who do you want to be in the face of stress?
Now is a ripe time to de-stigmatize the mental health help we need for the collective suffering we face. Stress sucks. The disparity between those admitting to poor mental health and those seeking professional help is gaping. The intent to take steps to get better is here, but the action isn’t being taken. When intention and action don’t line up, we’re left defeated and it’s an incredibly disempowering cycle. We need to empower one another and lift one another up to find tools to get better.
TLDR: We’re mega stressed, and we know it. Despite the writing on the wall that the path of destruction is showing no signs of stopping, most of us aren’t doing anything about it. Let’s rise up collectively to destigmatize the discussion around mental health and start taking proactive steps to take control.