Hey there and welcome to the BigAppleSchool podcast – the weekly English show where we speak about everything under the sun. The major goal of this show is to help you improve your English and of course learn something new. My name is Katya, I’m your host, and today with me…
is Ken from Manila, Philippines.
Guys, you know, we’re doing our best to be as useful to you as possible. And you know what we would like to get? Some feedback about it! Subscribe to our pages on Apple, Yandex, Google, VK – basically, any platform where you listen to our podcast – give us stars, leave us comment, review our podcast.
And you know what? Feel free to send you ideas about our next episodes! It won’t take much time or effort, right? But it will help us a lot to become even better. The sky’s the limit, right? So and Ken, Maria and I are going to discuss a very serious topic today, which is stress and mental disorders and difficulties of living in the 21st century.
But before we do, I would like to have a little bit of a disclaimer, so we are going to share our experiences. Whatever we say today is going to be our subjective thoughts, so in no way do we agitate you to do something or, you know, tell you what you have to do. So this is just our personal experience and our personal thoughts. So, Ken, Masha, on a scale from 1 to 10, how stressed is your life? I’ll start with this.
It’s hard to rank it. I don’t think that I’m prepared to do this right away, but maybe, it depends on the period, it depends maybe even the season, so right now it’s pretty stressed. So maybe 6.
Oh, 6 out of 10! Ken, what about…
Well, sorry, I don’t know, just, what is 10? So maybe we need to, like distinguish.
Okay. So how would you expect a 10/10 stress to feel?
Like when you can’t cope yourself and you need to go to a professional.
So when you cannot really cope with your daily routine maybe, you cannot focus on your work, but all you can think about is how stressful you are. Okay, so that would be 10. So yours is 6 out of 10, that’s still pretty close.
You know what, I’m still on holiday right now, so I don’t know, I don’t feel any stress at all, at least at the moment so I don’t know how to answer your question, so I guess all I’m gonna say is that I feel good right now, I’m still on my holiday, so there’s nothing to worry much about, at least at the moment.
Fantastic. So, dear listeners, do you see right now how much Ken loves you and appreciates you that he’s here on his holiday recording the podcast? That’s commitment! That’s so sweet!
Alright, and do you think that in general our lives today are more stressful that they, well, than it used to be, let’s say, 50 years ago? 30 years ago? So what do you think?
You know, that’s really an interesting question, because you would think that today, with the advancement of technology that lives would be much better and much easier. But ironically more and more people are becoming more stressed.
This is because life has become more fast-paced and with that there are more demands and I would say that the standards have become higher. There are more activities now that people can do. And unfortunately for a lot of us we tend to do a lot of things in a short amount of time.
And for the rest, or I would say the other, the love cramming. By cramming I mean doing things at the last minute. And so of course if you do that then of course you would feel stress naturally. And I guess I know that it’s really ironic to say this, but I totally agree that, I believe life today has become even more stressful than 50 or even 60 whatever years ago.
Yeah I totally agree and it’s not only because of technology, but mainly because of it. And also we switch between the tasks in a very intense way, like all the time, and also now we have this high competition.
I mean, we need to stand out professionally, like as a person, and so we need to show that we are better, a better version of ourselves like all the time. Because lots of people seem to stand out.
Do you remember when we last met we talked about social networks and how it puts so much pressure on you that nowadays it has become so much more difficult, as you said, to stand out. And there’s so much pressure from everywhere, you know, whatever you do, wherever you look, there’s always this ‘you need to do this, you need to be that, you need to be that’.
You know, I feel like if we talk about 50-30 year ago, so let’s say, the 1990s, the 1980s, I feel like at that time people did not have that much pressure, so you had a house, let’s say, a family, you have a family – you’re good, okay, you’re all good! Now how good are you at your job? Let… People judge the looks, people judge everything and you feel this constant pressure.
Yeah, you need to perform well in every sphere of your life.
And you know what, speaking of which, since you brought up the topic of social networks, again, now we are more exposed to a lot of platforms and therefore we can see lives of other people more now than before.
Well, unlike in the past when people didn’t use to have, you know, social networks, they didn’t have a way to compare themselves. Well, they could still compare themselves with, you know, the immediate environment, with you know, within the circle of their family, friends, work.
But now you can really see the world and even individual people that you don’t know personally because of social networks. And unfortunately for a lot of us I would say that we tend to compare ourselves and therefore it increases the pressure. And of course with pressure comes stress.
So we unanimously agree that life today tends to be more stressful. So pressure from the society – what other things cause stress in our modern fast-paced world?
This necessity to switch between lot of tasks, because the rhythm of life is faster now due to the development of technology. And we drive cars and we live in big cities and that’s the thing.
And in addition to that I think the higher demands right now, say for example if we talk about education I believe that in the past subjects were not as many as we have right now, if we talk about for example school children.
So there are newer subjects that are added in the curriculum and therefore, you know it creates more pressure to the students to study even more because there are more subjects to learn. So the higher, you know, standards that we set upon ourselves.
Yeah, yeah, I can say, I believe that children, even children and students, you know, they are more stressed today, not only because there are more subjects, let’s be fair, there were always quite a lot of subjects at school.
But also because they are given this idea that you have exams, and if you fail, that’s it, that’s the end of your life. You fail your exam, you fail your career you won’t be able to achieve anything. And that’s too much.
Whereas I think, well, judging from what I’ve heard that earlier there were still some exams at the end of your school period, but you always had some, you know, chances. Okay, you don’t pass them well enough, there are always opportunities for you. So and more jobs were respected back then that are not respected now. So wait, Masha, you have a son, who is school age.
So do you see or do you think that he is stressed about his studies or about his school?
Well sometimes I think that he is, but I try to make it like better for him, just by explaining that marks are not everything and maybe I did too much. Now he really, he doesn’t really appreciate school marks, he realized that it’s not the end of the world, so he doesn’t basically care. So now I need to do the opposite thing maybe.
Oh my goodness, the hardship of being a parent.
I just want to add that it goes beyond the classroom because nowadays children are sometimes forced by their parents not just learn the subjects of course at school, but also to do some extracurricular activities.
They ought to go to a dance class, they have to learn English for example, to go to some language schools. So a lot of these outside I mean, out of the classroom activities that, you know, some parents pressure their children to do that adds to the stress.
That’s so true. And I remember when I was a school girl, not everyone in my class had some extracurricular activities, like maybe 5 people went to a music school or art school, but not everybody. Now everybody has something and 2-3 as you said extracurricular activities, which makes parents feel stressed. If their child doesn’t go anywhere after school.
You know, I would like to share an experience from the other side of the story, so several years ago I was working at a secondary school , so I was teaching well basically almost every age from the 4th graders to the 11th graders.
And the thing is that the authorities of the school, they asked me how many children in your class have and attend some extracurricular classes and usually that was like, well, 10 out of 25. And they said no no no, that’s not enough, you should make the parents to sign their children up for something, you should make them attend some classes or something.
So there was kind of a… not a limit, but a number that I had to have. So and well, and I felt so much pressure form that. So I had to talk to parent and say you know, why don’t you consider you know, piano classes or dance classes? But at the same time I felt like I was lying to them because if I know that a child doesn’t want to, they just want to enjoy their childhood basically.
Yeah, our class teacher asks us every time like which extracurricular things our children attend and we make a list and so on.
Yeah, that’s too much, too much. And so why is stress dangerous? Like, we can’t deny that we all have stress in our lives, but is it actually dangerous? Why is it dangerous?
You know, okay, firstly, in my opinion there is such a thing as a good stress and the other one that’s toxic. Good stress is okay because it helps you perform better, because… You know, it’s like kind of a pressure for you to perform well, but it’s a good kind of stress.
But can you give an example what can be good stress?
00:12:27 K: Yeah, I’m thinking about it right now.
Like some kind of challenge that you set for yourself?
Yeah, yeah, I would say so. There’s nothing in particular that’s coming up in my mind, but I know there is good stress.
So what if, for example, you are, well, I would say a thing that comes to my mind, maybe that would be an example of a good stress. So you have a wedding day, are you stressed? Hell yeah you’re stressed, you’re getting married!
But that’s a good feeling, you’re excited.
That’s a good feeling. Yeah, so maybe these events, important events. Graduating from school, is it scary? Yes, cause you have whole new world ahead of you, but is it good stress? Maybe so.
Yeah, maybe, but if you’re stressed too much before the event, maybe you can’t enjoy the event itself.
Yeah, depending on how much, you know, worrying you have. And then on the other hand, you have the toxic kind of stress – this is when it affects your health, your mental health especially, because you don’t perform well anymore.
And you feel a bit more detached with what you’re doing and with the people around you. There is a change in behavior, you are no longer as cheerful as before. You become more irritable, so.
Yeah, that was is absolutely negative kind of stress.
Oh yeah, been there, done that. So yeah, in what other ways can stress be dangerous? Can we actually die from stress?
Well I don’t know if we can die because of stress, but if we are too exhausted, like, maybe stress can lead to malnutrition or something and to some… It can cause some other mental disorders. I guess if you don’t ask for help, or if you don’t help yourself, if you don’t sort the things out.
I would say that you would die indirectly from stress, from the accumulation of all the effects of stress.
Yeah. So that means that we can say yes, you can, if you take, you know, if you ignore it for long enough. And what surprised me is that you know, I’m quite interested in the topic of stress as someone who has gone through an extremely stressful period.
I mean, 2020 was stressful enough for all of us, but at some point it was extra stressful for my family. And I started to read on the topic, I started to listen on the topic and I was surprised to see that more than half of all diseases that people come to a doctor with are stress-related.
Not directly maybe, but indirectly. And I would like to share some info that it might be surprising to some of our listeners and to you, it might be not. But so stress can you know, can lead to such diseases as obesity, which happened to me in 2014.
Because, you know, when you’re stressed, you have high levels of cortisol which is the hormone of stress and that you know, increases the amount of fat which is stored in the abdomen. So which is, you know, the most dangerous type of fat.
So people start to gain weight, that can lead to obesity, and then obesity in turn can lead to more problems with health in general.
You know what, I don’t wanna take light on this topic, because I know that it’s somewhat sensitive, but somehow as a person who is very skinny. By the way, that’s me for those of you who haven’t seen me yet, but anyway.
My point is sometimes I get jealous with other people who gain weight when they are… when they experience stress. Cause it’s like how come I don’t gain weight whenever I feel very stressed, sometimes for long periods of time. But I’m still very skinny.
I think you’re on the other side, you are among those people who actually lose weight when they are stressed.
Am I jealous? Maybe a little bit, maybe a little bit, but yeah. And I was surprised to see that even colds and fevers and flu, well, not flu, but colds, simple colds can be caused by stress because stress in general tends to weaken our immune system and that makes us, you know, susceptible and prone to different diseases.
So in the list as well we have cardiovascular diseases, you know, heart attacks, and the one that I liked least of all is premature aging. So yeah, there has been some evidence that stress can actually affect how you age.
Oh my goodness! I can tell. I mean, not for myself personally, but you know, I’ve seen some friends who have aged and I know for a fact that it’s because of stress.
Yeah of course, for example, grey hair appear.
Yeah. Deep sigh. And there’s been a study that compared the DNA of mothers who had, well, who were under high stress cause they were caring for a chronically ill child with those who were not. And researchers found that a particular region of the chromosomes showed the effect of accelerated aging and sometimes the aging accelerated about 9 to 17 additional years.
Which is, you know, which is why, I guess, people in, you know, those areas in the world where people live longer, you know, there are more centenarians, they are usually, you know, more relaxed areas.
So, it seems to be a good idea to become a person like that,
So and how do you de-stress then? What do you avoid stress, deal with stress, so what’s your way?
You know what? For me it’s a mental battle because in a way you have to know how to approach stress. In my case what I do is that I do a bit of a self-talk, like to decide is this worth the stress? I mean should I be worried too much about this?
You have to choose your battles, you cannot just be overwhelmed with everything that comes your way, be it in your personal relationship or at work. You have to, you know, examine the situation – is this really as big as I think it is?
Or maybe it’s small but I’m just magnifying it, because you know, there is this tendency of some people when they see something and you see it form a different angle, so that it looks too big for them, if you know what I mean.
So it’s all a matter of perspective, and for me, in my case, I am still in the process of working my way through any kind of stress. And to always remind myself like look at it from another angle, maybe you’re just seeing it way too much than what it truly is. So that’s my way.
You have a very reasonable, you know, personality then.
Because I want to live longer. And I wanna live, I want to live a happy life. I cannot just put myself into stressful situations.
Well yeah, that makes sense.
Really. I’m so sorry for being talkative, but.
Oh no, that’s what we’re here for.
Well really, that’s what I always tell myself -I want to live a happy life, I want to get rid of stress and one way to approach that is to have a clear mind and to see things, again, with a clear mind.
I know that it might take a lot of work to get to that point, but definitely worth it.
Maria, what about you? What do you do to de-stress?
I would say that probably I do the same as Ken has mentioned, like I try to rationalize my fears or my concerns and maybe think about the worst consequences of this what might happen if. And then try to calm myself down by, yeah, thinking. Because, well, I tend to overthink, I know it, but sometimes it helps.
Yeah, don’t we all, from time to time. That’s, actually, what you guys have mentioned, this is one of the exercises that psychologists offer. So and I remember through… Well, over some time when I had sessions with a therapist, she was like so, why don’t you like this or this?
What are you afraid of? And I said something, and she said okay, so if that happens, what’s so bad about it? What’s the worst thing that can happen? I said well, A can happen. She said okay, so A happens, the worst thing, what’s then? What’s the worst thing that can come out of this A?
And I said well, B can come out of it. She’s like okay, so what’s the worst thing then? And then, when you start to think about it, like okay, the worst thing happens, so? You start to realize that sometimes it’s not as big as you pictured it. You can still get through it, well, should you have some instruments to.
But, well, it takes time.
And then it takes this rational logical approach, and sometimes maybe you need a person who can help you.
Who can walk you through this. Not necessarily like a therapist, maybe a coach, or just a friend who understands what kind of a crazy person you are.
A friend, a partner, a relative. Yes, yes, somebody.
Sometimes at the end of the day you just need to talk to somebody to de-stress. Because sometimes we feel that we have so much burden in our heart, in our minds, and we just have to get rid of them.
And one way of doing that is to, you know, share it with somebody like talk it over, and you can even ask for some advice. Yeah, it’s a very practical way of, you know, approaching stress, or dealing with stress.
Yeah, and if we speak about more, like practical things, maybe that more that are easier to use, sometimes music helps me. Well maybe it sounds banal, but it really does, I can just listen to music and maybe dance to it and it helps me to relieve the amount of stress.
It’s interesting that you have said that because I was about to say the same thing about music, because really, I love music. I just listen to happy songs and it, you know, it keeps all the blues away.
Well I would say that the important thing is to do what you like if you have some passion. And I remember just a couple of days ago I was listening to a podcast of a doctor who’s a psychologist and he said that he had a case, he had a patient who came to him and said “I don’t feel happy.
I just feel so stressed all the time and I don’t have any joy in life”. And the doctor asked him – do you have any hobbies? No, I don’t have time for this. So do you have anything you enjoy, what you do after work? And he said you know, I have kids, I need to take them to practice, then I have my job, I have my wife, so I need to do this, I need to do house chores.
And the doctor asked him – what did you use to enjoy when you were a child? He said you know, I had those train models that I really liked. And he asked so do you have those train models now at home? And he said yeah, you know, somewhere in the attic. So the doctor said go, take out those train toys or the models, just spend some time with them.
Probably not, you know, the advice you would expect to hear when you pay several hundred for a session, but still. But the thing is that, the doctor explained that it’s very often what he called a passion deficiency.
So when we don’t have anything to you know, to give us joy, we become more stressed. So in addition to the usual stress we have even more because we do not have anything that, you know, brings us good emotions, positive emotions.
Yeah, right, we need to find time for ourselves, because at the end of the day I have me, that’s what I have.
And that’s the most important person in your life.
So that’s what we need to remember, yeah.
For some people it can be sport. For me – well, unfortunately, no, I’m not a big sport fan, but I know that some people use it as a tool to relieve stress.
Whatever helps, whatever helps. Unless. Well I still think that, for example, drinking and smoking are not as good instruments in relieving stress, cause in the end that might, you know, lead to bigger problems, so.
I know that to a lot of people that’s like a correlation – if I feel stressed, I would like to drink a little bit. And not that I’m judging, I am the same kind of person, and I used to be, you know, just like that, but.
The same about, like, overeating. Or eating lots of sweet things. It’s not really healthy, but it can relieve, it can make you feel relieved for some moments, but then it feels maybe even worse.
Oh yeah. So and since we’re talking not only about stress in general, but about well, let’s say difficulties of being a human in the 21st century, in this fast-paced world, we can’t but talk about one more you know, negative side of being, of living in this fast-paced world, which is sleep deprivation.
And let’s be honest, let’s be honest, do you have solid 8-10 hours of sleep every day?
Oh my goodness, I wish I could have.
What about 8? What happened to these 8 hours?
Well, that’s why I said 8-10. Because to some people 8 is enough. But 8 is said to be, you know, a healthy number. Then some people need 10 to feel totally re-energized. So what about you? Do you have 8 hours of sleep every day?
So what’s your situation with sleep like?
Well, you know, I didn’t use to have any insomnia problems before I got sick with this new modern disease, fashionable disease that everyone tends to have.
I like this, fashionable disease.
Yeah, this trendy disease. And after this I noticed that I find it extremely difficult to get to sleep until, like, three in the morning. It has been like for a month or more.
That sounds like insomnia to me, I don’t know.
Not Masha, you know, denies it.
Yeah. But I didn’t use to have it before, like, ever.
How do you deal with that?
I don’t. I just wait till it passes, because I think it’s something inside the body, maybe hormonal thing. Or I don’t know how this virus influenced my body, so I just wait till it passes. It’s becoming better now, yeah.
Is it really becoming better or do you think it’s becoming better or do you hope it’s becoming better?
It’s becoming better. Because I can get to sleep.
At a more decent time, you know.
Ken, what about you? Have you ever had in general any sleep problems?
I still have, you know, sleep problems at the moment, because I only sleep for about 4 to 5 hours a day. And it’s interesting because despite that whenever I go to my classes I have more energy than my students.
Well that’s… that’s because…
We are drained.
00:28:45 K2: Yes. I mean even the same thing, actually – whenever I feel sleepy or tired, once I’m in class, once I start teaching I feel energized, because we, well, we deal with people, we have students who energize us. But 4-5 hours of sleep, why do you think is that?
Well, okay, firstly let me make it clear that it’s not always the case that whenever I go to my class I’m energized, no. Of course there are also days when I feel really sleepy, drowsy, because of lack of sleep. But I would say that for most part I feel very energetic.
And that’s why whenever I hear students complain, say, for example, oh I didn’t sleep well last night. And then I ask them how many hours of sleep did you have? And they would say, for example, 6, 7 or 8. What? You even slept more than me, that is so unfair, and I have more energy than you.
How can that be? But then again we have different rhythms in our body! So for others even if they sleep for 7 hours, it’s still not enough, but for me 5 hours, at least 5 hours is good enough for me. Now, how do I deal with it?
I don’t know, because at the moment I feel like it’s already been a part of my system, so I’m kinda used to it. And that’s why there are no complaints on my part except on days when maybe partly influenced by the weather.
Because of course when it’s really cold outside, it affects somehow, even though I’m used to this routine of this sleep pattern, but there are other factors that you need to consider. Because it could only be just 5 hours, but if the weather’s so bad, then it can still make me feel down.
So why do you think you have this sleeping problem? What can be the reason?
Oh yeah, so the reason. Maybe because, you know, I tend to sleep late, that’s the problem. And therefore, especially if I have a morning class, then of course my… the number of hours is reduced. That’s one. What else?
Overthinking, because sometimes you do have plans, not only for your class, but you know, in a personal life, and you think – is it gonna work? What should I do for my holiday or whatever? It’s like you take it with you to bed and therefore it prevents you from sleeping immediately. So, yeah.
Interesting, cause I have had sleeping problems and sometimes I still have sleeping problems. But if it used to be something connected with my psychological state, then now it’s mostly because I am a… I am dumb, I try not to swear in the podcast, so. Because…
Maybe because you work a lot.
Well, I actually know why I can’t sleep, because first, I might drink coffee, you know, late in the evening. And then blue screens. So I am tempted to look at blue screens, to look at my phone even when I go to bed.
And then well, it keeps me awake, so I know that whenever I can’t sleep it’s my problem. But if know that I’ve been doing everything well, you know, no coffee in the evening, no blue screen one hour before sleep and I still can’t fall asleep, then there’s one thing which has been saving me for the last two years which is melatonin. But that’s just my situation.
Yeah, well, technically it’s not a medicine, but it’s an additive, so a biological additive. Cause melatonin in general is the hormone of sleep that we have in our body. So yeah. 2-3 mg and it saves me, you know.
So it like a real effect or placebo effect?
Well the thing is that… I tend to believe, I prefer to believe that it’s a real effect but the thing is that since melatonin is, you know, an additive and you know it works in such a way that when you take melatonin you’re not supposed to look at blue screens for half an hour.
And of course you know, it doesn’t make you fall asleep immediately and what it does is not only help you fall asleep, but to feel, well, to sleep better, not to wake up you know, at tiniest sounds.
The downside for me personally is that it’s a little bit more difficult to get up in the morning – you feel, you know, a little bit more sleepy than you usually do. That’s the downside, but then again, to feel sleepy in the morning or to lie awake until 3am.
Everyone needs to decide for themselves. So I have a question guys – do you sometimes maybe take short naps in the middle of the day? Because I sometimes do if I have a chance.
If I can, I totally do, I totally do.
It can. Although, you know, you never know in what state you’re gonna wake up, whether… Cause there are really, there are 2 ways – either very energized or, you know, you wake up like what year is it? Where am I?
Yeah it depends maybe on what time it is and how long you have been sleeping.
Oh my god and speaking of which because, well, last year when we had this somewhat, I mean when students were not allowed to go to schools, right, and we had to do our classes online.
So that time I had the opportunity to take some breaks, take a nap, but then it’s like a rude awakening when I realize oh my god, it’s only 5 minutes before the class. Or, when, for example, it’s exactly the time for my class. And then I need to rush.
Well, alarm clock does help.
Well, yeah, but sometimes you miss it.
I mean, it happens and it happened to me.
Yeah. How many alarm clocks do you guys set?
But I hit snooze ten times. You know, that’s different. So yeah, two alarm clocks, but hitting snooze ten times maybe.
Depends. Wait, are you a person who only sets one alarm clock?
Do you people exist? Wow!
You’re so self-disciplined.
Well, sometimes I miss it, that’s why..
Okay, although, I was so shocked, but I have an example of my mom who is an unbelievable person cause she never set san alarm clock. When she was working, she would wake up 6-6:30 every single day and she has never overslept. Never. I was like – how are you doing this, woman? And she said I guess it’s just my biological clock, so every single day, 6:30 she would wake up, get ready, go to work.
I… That would be too risky for me to do.
I don’t know if I envy or just feel amazed.
Maybe that’s because she was working 9 to 5 for, like, you know, 30-something years of her life. Maybe that. But then again, if I worked 9-5 even for 10 years of my life, 5 years, I seriously doubt I would be able to wake at 6-6:30 every single day without an alarm. So and why is sleep deprivation dangerous? What can that lead to?
It can lead to a lot of you know, health problems.
So it can multiply the amount of stress, you have.
Multiply the amount of stress, yes. I have again, I’m here to tell you about the bad effects. So first of all, there was a situation when… An experiment rather, when a person decided not to sleep at all, so…
What do you mean not sleep at all? For how long?
Well that was the point of the experiment – he wanted to see how long he would handle. In the end he didn’t sleep for 11 days.
He did, but after.. It was hard, but it was controlled, it was controlled. So he was keeping some kind of a… not a diary, but he was saying things, cause he was unable to… You know when you touch an object with your hand, you understand what you’re touching, right.
So a hard object, this is a cup that I’m touching, a pen, so on a second day without sleep he wasn’t able to do that anymore. So he was seeing that he touched something, but he didn’t feel it, so it was difficult for him. He lost his concentration, absolutely inattentive. On the third day he started hallucinating.
And then just went down the hill. But in general, well, that experiment happened in 1965, and that caused among other things, to pay more attention on the research of sleep. And it turned out that if you are sleep deprived, and by that we would mean consistently getting less than 6 hours of sleep, Ken, be listening very carefully right now.
Less than 6 hours of sleep consistently, so it can lead to hormonal imbalance, because again, stress, cortisol, all that is connected. It can affect your learning ability, mood, and reaction time, which is also understandable, you become less attentive. And then it leads to high blood pressure, it can lead to obesity as well, because again, it is all related to stress.
Yeah, if you don’t get enough sleep, you will get more food.
Yes, sleep more, eat less.
And then if you again consistently get less than 6 hours of sleep that increases the risk of a stroke by 4.5 times.
Thanks for giving me stress because of this information.
I’m just trying to be helpful!
I’m kidding, I’m kidding! I know, I’m kidding!
So, and why is it important? Because during the day there is a certain amount of waste product that you know, accumulate in our brain, and one of them is let’s say adenosine and melatonin which you know. As they build up, the more they build up, the sleepier we feel.
So and there are waste products in our brain, and when we sleep, this glymphatic system actually washes the waste products away, so giving more energy to us when we wake up. And it’s very difficult to do when we are, you know, awake.
And that’s what caffeine does for example, caffeine blocks adenosine, so even when it builds up we do not feel sleepy. So if we drink coffee all day long, and then don’t get sleep, and then again, drink a lot of coffee, that…
But guys… Sorry, can I interrupt?
Well, we all know about these famous people like Napoleon or some others, who didn’t use to sleep a lot. I don’t know, maybe it’s a myth. Do you think it’s a myth?
Maybe that’s why he, you know, tried to invade Russia in the middle of winter. You know, maybe, there might be a connection, you know, between this.
Because I know that some people just, well, don’t want to spend 13 of their life sleeping, because they have so many things to do.
I have two comments about that. So first of all, it’s their right, so they are jeopardizing their health. It’s their choice. If they want to risk it, and we do not know what quality of life they have and how good their health is. So this is the one point. The same, you now, with working 80 hours of week. We can do that if we want to.
But is it worth it? Another question. And then the second comment I have is that there are always exceptions. You know, there are some kind of… well, not anomalies, maybe, but there are people who can actually get 5 hours of sleep and that’s enough for them. They do not feel sleepy, they feel perfectly energized. And maybe for them it’s the norm. They’re just, you know, the exception to the rule.
So I’m not gonna die yet.
Yeah, maybe it’s your normal routine.
Yes, maybe that’s your norm. So you get your 5 hours of sleep, 6 hours of sleep, if you feel perfectly energized, that’s your norm. For example for me if I sleep for 8 hours, that’s enough, but I feel totally energized only after 9 or 10 hours. Like, perfect amount.
Yeah, I had a friend who was sleeping 14-15-16 hours a day sometimes, and she was still not feeling energized. And it was something I could not understand. And in the end it turned out that she had a problem with the nose, so she only got, you know, let’s say 80% of oxygen when you are supposed to get 95-96-97%, so that’s why she could never feel energized enough. So she spent most of her time in bed. So, yeah. So.
So whoever’s listening, please try to get, you know, solid 6-7-8 hours of sleep and take care of yourself.
Don’t do what I do, okay?
Unless you feel perfectly okay.
Unless. Alright, so and while talking about, you know, mental states, stress and whatnot, we can’t but mention two most common mental disorders in the whole world which are depression and anxiety. So and I have a little bit of a statistics.
So it says that in the US, for example, it’s more than 40% of adults that suffer with, or suffer from depression and struggle with mental illness. In Russia it says that every fifth citizen in Russia has some kind of struggles with mental health.
So yeah, and I would like to ask you – have you ever had nay kind of an experience with depression? If so, what helped you personally to get through this? You are… Feel free not to answer, it’s… You know, if you want to share – share. If you don’t – don’t.
Well, Masha, can I go ahead?
Oh okay. As I’ve always said to my students my life is a bit of an open book, and I always share my own personal experiences with them. And in my case, of course, I’m just human and there are certain things that happened in my life which can make me really sad.
And therefore I feel depressed. One specific instance was back in 2013, that was the first time for me to work abroad, in Kazakhstan specifically. And things were not going well as I imagined them to be in terms of work, in terms of love life. And so many other things.
And mind you, I was so depressed that I came to ap int that I was sitting by the window. By the way, I lived on the third floor, and you can just imagine what was going on in my head. I tried to open the window and I looked down and I said – what are the chances of me, you know, dying the moment I jump out of the window?
Am I gonna die just with three floors? Yeah. But then again, it was a bit of a comedy. Because even though I was feeling sad that time, I was also thinking – what if I die? It’s gonna be big news in the Philippines and Kazakhstan, because in the headlines it will go like this: Filipino English teacher committed suicide. And I don’t think that I wanna be known…
And remembered by that, yeah.
And remembered, exactly, in that way. And I thought to myself – are you sure you really wanna do this? And then I was also thinking what if I survive? Then I will become an invalid, I will be sitting in a wheelchair and people are gonna ask me hey, what happened to you? And then I look up to them and tell them well, I attempted to commit suicide, but unfortunately it didn’t work for me.
Yeah, neither if the scenarios were, you know, pleasant.
Yeah I know, so I don’t want to take light on this topic, because I know it’s something serious, and I’m sure that other people maybe they don’t even want to admit it to themselves that they at some point in their lives they thought about, you know, committing suicide.
But I’m just sharing my experience because I want people to know that as a regular human being I did struggle with that. But then again, I’m thankful because my rational mind told me that you know, it’s not gonna do me any good. And I don’t wanna be remembered for that.
I’m going back to the Philippines, well, my body, my remains. That’s something that I don’t wan to happen. So you know what? After contemplating for hours and hours by the window I told myself – ho come on, forget it, just get yourself a cup of tea and just go to bed. And guess what? That’s what I did, and the next day I thought – oh my god thank god I didn’t do, cause otherwise…
So you woke up with the fresh head, fresh…
In the morning things don’t seem so gloomy.
Do you think that was caused by some kind of a culture shock that you had?
I would say that was one of the contributing factors, yeah. And the fact that, you know, we go back to expectation versus reality. Because remember, that was my first time to work abroad and I had my, you know, ideals in mind that it would go perfect. It’s gonna be like this and like that. But then reality hits you and then you realize, oh, okay. We’re back to earth.
I can relate to so much that you’ve just said, cause I… My diagnosed depression actually happened as a result of a culture shock in the US. So yeah. I can understand everything you’re saying right now, yeah.
So and actually, what if we quickly say what can be the symptoms of depression, just so you know, if you feel any of those, just go seek help. This is what I always say to anyone – any sign, you’re feeling out of normal, go seek help. That can save you.
So the world health organization says that the most common symptoms of depression would be sadness, loss of interest or pleasure in general, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep, appetite and in general feeling of fatigue, poor concentration that last for a week and longer.
So of course we all have days when we feel fatigue, when we feel sad. But if it lasts, so yeah, it’s very important to share and very important to go seek help. Yes.
I hope that helps to all of our listeners and I hope they keep that in mind.
Yeah, I told you, listeners, this is not an easy topic that we’re talking about today, but an important one nevertheless.
Well I guess that in Russia people are not used to getting help.
That’s what we need to change. Definitely. So but I like to see that more and more people try to reach out. And you know there’s one thing that people do not usually say about, maybe that’s not that widely known. Or something.
But not many people know, not many people say that when you are depressed, you do not remember what has happened to you. So you have some kind of a partial memory loss should we say, so and you do not tend to remember what you did on a certain day, you don’t remember how you felt.
So and this is one of the regrets I have in my life, because at some point in the past I took an amazing 3 week trip around the west coast of the US. I don’t remember half of that. Like I remember going, I have no idea what I saw.
I don’t remember what I did on almost half of the time because I was feeling so bad and I hadn’t reached out for help at that moment. So, yeah. Don’t be dumb like me, again, reach out and get help if you feel depressed. And the second one, the second also very common state that a lot of people suffer from is anxiety. So, what do you know about anxiety? What can you say are the symptoms of it?
Worrying too much. I think this is the first thing that comes to my..
Overthinking, again, overthinking.
So, you know, I wasn’t diagnosed with depression, like, I haven’t been. I don’t think that I have it, but I have this generalized anxiety syndrome, and I know it for sure, and I was diagnosed with this. It’s like you tend to overthink, and you tend to focus on something that is irrelevant maybe.
So and the main thing here is to let it be. Like, to value everything that you have, and so yeah. Just be yourself, let yourself think if you need, and don’t think that you are in the wrong. Because you have these feelings.
So basically you are telling us also that’s your way of coping with it. Like how to deal with it, right.
So and do you have any other techniques maybe that works for you when you have anxiety attacks? Cause it’s different for every person of course, so.
Well, recently for example like, a couple of years ago in class some of my students told me that they use meditation to help them. I have never tried it, I don’t know. To me that seems something very difficult and I’m a little bit afraid of it, I don’t know.
I actually have an opinion on meditation that some people might not agree with. And again, remember the disclaimer – this is my subjective opinion, which you might agree or disagree on, it doesn’t make it wrong or right.
But I believe that meditation is not the best tool for anxiety for one reason. So meditation for anxiety is like Ibuprofen for a headache, for let’s say migraine or stomach ache that is consistent. So what you do with it – you get rid of the symptoms, but you do not, you know, help with the reason, the deeper reason with that.
So which makes it a good tool if you want to get through the day or if it hits in the middle of the road let’s say or when you’re doing something, that can be a good tool. But then it’s always better to work with the reason or with something deeper.
Or, at least, you know, it can have some effect if it’s long-term effect. If you do it consistently, regularly, for a long time, then it can have some kind of a lasting effect that accumulates. But other than that. Again, this is my personal opinion.
If this ibuprofen meditation is what you need – go for it.
Well, I just think that something that maybe should be done in a proper way, because I’m not sure that I could do it myself, like, by watching some Youtube video. But I can do is I can think it over, think my problems over and rationalize them and, like, to..
I can let myself feel what I feel. I can let me be me. And I am now trying to accept myself and I try not to be guilty of who I am, of what type of person I am and what I feel. That’s what helps.
Amen to that. So and the last thing that I would like to talk about is something that all professionals among all professions have faced, or, well, might have faced or might have thought about is a burnout. So, what is it?
You know, I guess at some point in our lives, especially for our listeners who have had any kind of work, especially for a long time, I think it’s something that is unavoidable, especially if you are, let’s say, overworked, and if you no longer appreciate it and you feel like you can no longer do any kind of improvement in your job.
Or if you, let’s say for example, you work for long hours. Because it comes from the idea of being tired, or you’re sick and tired of doing the same thing, no changes, and then you don’t even have time for yourself. So you will really get burned out.
So we can say that then the symptoms would be unwillingness to work, maybe fatigue as well getting no joy.
Exactly, when you start hating your work, yeah.
I think that’s like a red flag, you think oh I hate it, I don’t wanna do that – that’s a red flag that you’re on your way to a burnout.
Especially when you feel that you’re like dragging yourself to work. Oh my god, another day, another struggle.
Yeah. And can people avoid, prevent, avoid, or, if that has happened, go through this? Go through a burnout?
Well sometimes, sorry, can I go ahead? Sometimes a better option is just to change your job. Because now I have something particular on my mind. I have a friend who has been working at a job that she doesn’t like for several years already, but she doesn’t have this maybe courage to change it.
And her like relatives, her family doesn’t support her in her decision to leave. And she struggles, she has been struggling all that time. Sometimes maybe for two weeks she feels better, then again she has this, you know, this struggle. And I am afraid that it can lead to a real depression, I mean, clinical.
Well, I agree with that. And then for those who cannot afford to leave their job, especially in times of crisis, and you know, it’s difficult to find another job, I think you just have to sometimes take some time off work if you could afford, if you’re allowed to do so.
Because for example in my case, I was really burned out when I was in Kazakhstan, because there was a time for straight two years, from 2015 when I came back to work. From 2015 to 2017, two years without long-term holidays, absolutely work for two years without any holidays.
And of course naturally I felt thar I was burned out, and so I thought to myself maybe I need a holiday. But then again it was already too late because I was just too sick and tired of my job that I had to quit unfortunately.
Yeah I would say that having proper rest is a good way to, you know, deal with a burnout. But when we say rest, it means not checking, not doing anything connected with work, just, you know, doing something that gives you joy and pleasure, nothing related.
And if we want to avoid and prevent a burnout in the first place, I think it would be good if we got regular breaks, I mean, you know, if you have days off in the weekend, do not do work in the weekend. So do not be tempted to check your emails at night before going to sleep.
And don’t be tempted to put too much onto your to do list. Cause you think oh I need to do this and this and this and this, and you have higher expectations. Then of course you feel disappointed in yourself when you don’t do all of, you know, what you have planned.
So and that just, you know, builds up and can lead to that. So just take care of yourself, you only have you.
Well, good routine can help. Sounds maybe more suitable for children, but adults also need routines, I mean, healthy routines. For example I remember one advice that I heard from a psychologist when I worked at a secondary school. He said that try not to bring work home. Well now it’s becoming more and more difficult because we work from home.
At least we need to maybe like to isolate our work place from our private place.
But yeah, it’s getting so difficult to do.
Again, so when you work you should be dressed as you are dressed when you work in the office for example. Don’t maybe work in your pajamas. Because you just can mix it up.
Yeah, in this case you know, the boundary between work and life, it just gets blurred, so you do not longer differentiate where is work and where is your life.
And it also comes with the responsibility on your part to be able to manage your time well and to be sure that you don’t overcrowd your to do list. Because sometimes, well, some people are perfectionists, they want to do things all at one time.
And everything should be done perfectly at the same time.
Exactly. So you’re just creating a lot of, well, stress to yourself. And you can get burned out as an effect.
00:59:26 K2: Alright, so dear listeners, take care of yourself, you only have you, so you should care and appreciate yourself.
And try to be at peace with yourself.
So alright well that was the BigAppleSchool podcast and today we discussed difficulties, psychological difficulties of living in the 21st century. We talked about stress, how we destress and the, you know, negative consequences of stress.
We talked about sleep deprivation, we talked about, briefly talked about depression, anxiety and our experiences with that. So yeah. Thank you for listening. And remember if you struggle to understand any part of our conversation – please, go to our website which is BigAppleSchool.com/podcast.
You can find full scripts of each episode there, so and you can read and listen. Amazing! Also if you want to get more content which will help you learn English, follow us on the social media, such as Instagram, VK, Youtube, basically everywhere. Just search our name which is, again, BigAppleSchool. So that was Katya and my guests for today were…
Stay tuned and we’ll see you around!