How to Cope with Stress and “Surge Capacity”, by Sarah Moe, Sleep Expert and AMEC Member

Most of us entered 2022 quite optimistic, despite last year’s stressors. The start of the pandemic had us scrambling and scared, yet we adapted quite well and became more resilient. But as it continues to wear on, many of us are noticing that we are frequently feeling quite awful- if this sounds familiar, you are not alone. The reason for this feeling is called “Surge Capacity”.

What is Surge Capacity?

You may have seen this term before in the context of hospitals being over-run. In a medical sense, surge capacity is the ability of a health care system to maintain a sudden and unexpected increase in patients. But it is also a term used in the world of psychology to define a collection of adaptive systems, both mental and physical, that we draw on for short-term survival in extremely difficult situations. Do you know that feeling when a crisis strikes and, suddenly, you’re running on adrenaline in order to cope? In essence, that’s exactly what surge capacity is. Humans generally turn to their surge capacity in highly stressful and unexpected situations, like natural disasters.

Because natural disasters are never ‘indefinite’, many people can eventually shift their life back into some form of normalcy and don’t need to rely on surge capacity for long periods of time. Here enters the problem: this pandemic went from an acutely stressful situation to a chronic, ongoing way of managing our lives.

How can we cope with Surge Capacity?

Our surge capacity has been completely depleted, and we are suffering as we attempt to find the strength to continue. It often feels like an extreme lack of motivation, exhaustion both physically and mentally, and not having the energy to do anything at all. The good news is that we can fill it back up by practicing habits to promote resilience. As a Sleep Expert, entrepreneur, caretaker and mom, here are my recommendations:

  1. Be less demanding of yourself and reassess your priorities: the survival of our family units depend on our ability to take an honest look at ourselves and our actions. It requires learning what we should and should not do again and embracing change. Unfortunately, the act of self-examination can lead to negative feelings of inadequacy and “self- loathing”. Now is not the time for self-criticism. We are all doing our very best to get through this difficult time and that’s more than good enough. Reassessing our priorities is healthy and a great way to start  the year, or frankly  anytime we may feel overwhelmed.
  2. Look for fulfilling activities. Self-care is not just a trend, it is a necessity. Whether it’s picking up the tennis racket that has been in your closet for 17 years or joining an online chess club, we need to create more time for the activities that bring us joy. Spend time identifying yours, and you will see your capacity for self-care start to renew itself.
  3. Focus on your health, especially getting enough sleep. The 3 Pillars of Health are Nutrition, Exercise, and Sleep. Making improvements within each pillar may  physiologically improve your resilience. Sleep remains the key factor to restoring and refreshing all aspects of our lives. It is during  sleep that we undergo cellular restoration on every level, which allows for a complete reset. Our mood, productivity, perception, judgment, and motivation are all controlled by hormones that are regulated each night. Ensuring that your sleep is the best it can be is the easiest way to thrive through these tough times. If you are having trouble sleeping right now, try the Alurx Sleep options. There are multiple solutions available such as Night Formula Capsules with Melatonin,  Wellness Gummies, or my favorite Sleep, the 5 Herbs Tea Blend for Sleep Support.

We've made it through the first month of 2022, so let’s pat ourselves on the back! Now grab some Sleep Tea and snuggle up.

For more advice on how to create a Sleep Ritual, please view Sarah Moe’s videos on the Alurx Wellness Studio.

For additional reading, Sarah Moe recommends: