It is undeniable that the restrictions imposed by the ongoing pandemic have drastically changed our habits and our lifestyle. There is no doubt that the stress produced by uncertainty, prohibitions and lockdowns, whether partial or total, have prompted us to search for distractions that can give us some relief. As Ovid said, human beings seek what is forbidden and desire what is denied them.

There is a thread that links excessive behaviors (drinking too much, smoking too much, overeating, spending too much time on the computer or watching television) to stress.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash

Clearly, the pandemic puts our desires on hold and it is normal to wish for what cannot be done. Only when we go back to a more or less normal life and our desires will be satisfied, our lives will be brighter. The pursuit of pleasure is an absolutely human behaviour, there is nothing to worry about.

Our brain identifies and reinforces beneficial behaviours such as eating well, socializing, having fun. This complex reward circuit that generates pleasure is the result of the evolution that guarantees our survival, that orients us in daily life and that keeps us going on. The more we can produce dopamine (the pleasure and reward hormone), the more we can generate pleasant sensations in a natural way. As a consequence, we would not need to adopt excessive behaviours that can lead to addictions.

However, the situation we have been experiencing for about a year has affected and affects motivation and self-control. We are no longer able to generate pleasant sensations and situations naturally and we have to look for different means to improve our life condition. The sudden lack of dopamine results in a short circuit of pleasant sensations which then pushes us to seek pleasure in another way.

It is important to be careful that these behaviours do not turn into addictions. Luckily, few people drive themselves to the point of becoming addicted to new harmful habits.

To prevent addiction it is necessary to put in place strategies that favour self-control, especially anti-stress strategies. Practising physical exercise, walking in the nature, trying not to isolate yourself but to maintain contact even remotely, are just some suggestions.

Do you have any anti-stress strategies? Let me know!

Photo by Maarten van den Heuvel on Unsplash