Nov. 3, 2021

Why Does Everything Feel Hard Right Now?

We’re so used to being stuck at home that the thought of social stimulation has become somewhat anxiety-arousing. When did that happen? How can we turn that story around and find our way back to the friends and connections we’ve missed for so long?

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Why does re-emerging from our pandemic cocoons continue to feel so difficult? Are we all socially deconditioned? 

The third-quarter phenomenon is part of the explanation. For people forced to endure long stretches of isolation– astronauts, Arctic explorers, submarine sailors– the most difficult part, regardless of the length of the assignment, has been proven to be about 75% of the way through, precisely when the end of the assignment first comes into distant focus.

But the end of this assignment has not and will not come into focus. There is no V-Day, no “all clear” foghorn to indicate that what we went through is totally over. And while we had the camaraderie of reunion and survival sparking us all to reconnect outside last year, the longer this goes on, the less enthusiastic we become about ever returning to the way things used to be. 

Psychologist Craig Haney, who studies the effect of insolation on incarcerated people, explains that prisoners in solitary confinement “begin to withdraw from the little amount of social contact that they are allowed to have, because social stimulation, over time, becomes anxiety-arousing.”

What most of us are dealing with isn’t half so extreme. But we’re all dealing with it, and that’s the tricky part. In this episode we discuss how to overcome our brains’ innate negativity bias and start to look out for the good. 

Check out these other episodes of ours for more discussion on this topic:




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