In This Episode: Even before Covid-19, a lot of us were pooped — wrung out, over capacity. And with Covid, a lot of us are even more tired. This episode doesn’t just talk about why, but how to build your resilience to the stressors of this crazy year that’s not over yet.

084: Why You’re So Tired


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Welcome to Uncommon Sense, I’m Randy Cassingham.

For the past 27 years, my life has been wall to wall content creation: writing This is True and some combination of the Honorary Unsubscribe, Randy’s Random, the True Stella Awards, this podcast, and other projects.

But I’m finding myself a lot more tired lately. Is it just that I’m getting older?

No, says Dr. Ann Masten, a professor at the University of Minnesota who studies resilience in human development.

What is resilience, in psychology speak? “There’s general agreement that resilience refers to positive adaptation to adversity,” she says, “but my own view is that we need to think of resilience as the capacity of a system. I think what we’re seeing right now, in the midst of this catastrophic pandemic, is that we all depend on the resilience of many systems in our lives. We’re learning how interdependent we are, and how much we depend on the support of other people, our health care system and many other emergency systems in our communities.”

Humanity has overcome a lot of adversity over thousands of years, so resilience is definitely a good thing. “In order to develop a healthy immune system,” she says, “you really need to have some exposure to challenges. I think the same thing is true for building resilience.”

How do parents help their children build resilience? By letting them make mistakes, even though you could step in to help them not make it. Obviously this doesn’t apply to truly dangerous situations.

So how is this compatible with so-called “helicopter parenting”? It isn’t. Parents that are always “hovering” around, trying to “help” their children — even after they’re adults — are doing true harm to their offspring. It undermines the building of their confidence. They need to be challenged so they can learn, “Why yes, I can do that!”

Yet here we are, in a pandemic, where it’s hard to know what the rules are. And because so many Westerners are so stubborn, we’re still in the height of infections, even while a lot of the world is pretty much back to normal.

After about 11 months of this, we’re getting “Covid fatigue” — but that’s only part of why so many of us are so tired all the time.

There’s another factor that Dr. Masten talks about, and it’s related to something I quoted her on near the beginning of the episode: “we need to think of resilience as...

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