Is your ‘Surge Capacity’ depleted?

Taking care of your mental health

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - The looming COVID-19 pandemic, a country divided by party lines and racial tensions.

It can be a lot to manage.

So, if you’ve noticed you’ve been feeling a bit out sorts lately, it’s not your imagination.

Doctors say it could be because your personal “Surge Capacity” is depleted.

Surge Capacity is the mental and physical ability to adapt to intensely stressful situations, like natural disasters, or the death of a loved one.

UAB Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Joshua Klapow said our minds are designed to handle these situations, but only for a short period of time.

“When you roll into that our need to not only deal with all the stressors: pandemic, social change, loss of a job, economy, storms, we also have to deal with life: work, kids, school, social. That’s what really tests our surge capacity, so it’s not just the big events, but it’s those events rolled into our day-to-day function,” Dr. Klapow said.

He said it’s important to recognize when you’re reaching your limits.

Restless sleep patterns, feeling distracted, having difficulty concentrating, or being easily irritated are signs you need a break.

“And so, the idea is not taking a day off, or a week off, which is fine. You can do that, but recalibrating every hour or so, so that you stay within your bandwidth, so you stay within that surge capacity parameter. That’s the problem with us emotionally and psychologically is we’re constantly pushing past the surge capacity when all it takes is a step back now and then throughout the day, more frequent shorter periods of time, and you’re going to do good,” Dr. Klapow said.

Dr. Klapow added that the worst thing we can do is to keep trying to push through when we’re not feeling replenished.

He said that actually makes it harder to recover.

But if you’re trying to manage your surge capacity and nothing seems to be working, he said that’s when it’s time to reach out for help, either through clergy, a mental health professional, or even your primary care doctor, and there’s no shame in that.

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