Sunday, April 2, 2023
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I learned why our brains feel too full for more bad news

Every day another headline highlights something to worry about. 

Whether it’s the latest health scare, economic challenges or social conflict, our brains start to feel like they’re fill up – a feeling that’s totally normal, according to experts I heard from this week.

I learned that what we’re experiencing is emotional exhaustion and crisis fatigue.

“We’ve all reached the point of emotional exhaustion, and there is such a thing as crisis fatigue – our brains and our bodies can only be in a heightened state of alert for so long, and it’s not natural for us to stay there,” explains Amy Morin, psychotherapist and editor-in-chief of Verywell Mind.

Vaile Wright, senior director of health care innovation at the American Psychological Association, explains emotional exhaustion is “this sense of overwhelmingness. Overwhelmed to the point where you feel like you don’t have the capacity to deal anymore… It’s physical tiredness. It’s mental tiredness. It’s difficulty concentrating. It’s all the things that we experience when we’re just at our capacity.”

There’s also a point where our brains tend to shut off.

“We become desensitized to things after we watch the news for so long about something that could kill us,” Morin says. “Then you hear more stuff about ‘oh, and by the way, here’s this extra threat…’ It’s almost like we meet it with an eyeroll thinking, ‘OK, what’s next?’ Because right now it seems like there’s always something coming out, telling us there’s a different danger and don’t relax yet.”

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