In the story of the boiled frog, a frog is placed in a pot of cold water. As the water gradually heats up, the frog gets used to the “new normal” and never jumps out of the pot. Eventually, the water becomes so hot that the frog boils to death.
Leading a stressful lifestyle can be a lot like being the frog. Our stress levels can get higher and higher and sometimes we don’t notice until a crisis is reached. In some cases, the effects on our health can be fatal, just like the frog.
Stress is a lot easier to ignore when we’re surrounded by other stressed-out people. If there is no contrast to compare to, we may take it for granted that everyone has trouble sleeping, or has high blood pressure, or any of the other symptoms of stress.
In past times, if you looked at particular social groups, a few of the members might be suffering from stress, but most would not. After the passage of time, the identity of who was stressed and who was not might change, but, in general, the people who were extremely stressed would remain in the minority. This was because not everyone was subjected to stress at the same time. Job losses, sick kids, and marriage problems were sprinkled among the group, but not dumped on everyone at once.
After Covid-19 arrived, however, everyone experienced a difficult time, all at once. Now, a year and a half later, much of the panic is gone, but a lot of stress remains.
When you live in a stressful situation long enough and share it with almost everyone you know, like the frog, it becomes your new normal.
Not everyone is able to change their present circumstances to reduce their stress. Even those who can change their personal lives remain surrounded by difficult times in their shared social experience. In other words, few of us can actually jump out of the pot.
However, most of us can at least give ourselves credit for enduring the stresses that we can’t avoid. And most of us can look for whatever solutions we’re able to find. All we have to do is recognize that the water is getting warmer.
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