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Fighting the Blah Using the Yerkes-Dodson Law!

Tick. Tick. Tick.

Sitting on the couch, scrolling social media or maybe you're binging Netflix- if we you can even find anything to watch! Have you moved off this couch in the past hour? In the past 2 hours? All day, maybe minus the occasional bathroom or snack break?

"I'm bored!"

"There is nothing to do!"

"I don't feel like doing anything..."

"It's too ____ to do anything..."

"I'm too broke to do anything!"

With the pandemic in full swing, we might be having this internal struggle more often than usual. As we exhausted all our normal means of entertainment to keep us occupied over the last three years, things you used to enjoy just aren't cutting it anymore.

So... The Yerkes-Dodson Law - What is it & why wont Danielle shut up about it during lock-down?

If you're a friend of mine, have an interest in psychology, or have done any self-reflection studying you may have heard of this before...

Now, first things first, this psychological law is old! Yerkes & Dodson's research for this began around 1908, that is over a decade before our sweet Betty White was brought into this world! The Yerkes-Dodson Curve was a psychological tool created to measure the relationship between the motivation caused by stress surrounding doing a task and the ability to complete a task. They found that stress is a powerful motivator - but only until a certain point! Since that time it has gone from a very basic idea to the underlying concept between a huge number of phenomenon's, and the research is still growing.

As you can see by this wonderful graph, there are kind of three points things fall between:

  1. Low Arousal - You are not being challenged!

  2. Optimal Arousal - You are being challenged the right amount for growth!

  3. High Arousal - You are being overwhelmed by a challenge too big for your situation!

Let's explore what the three levels look like with Jack, Jill & Jane.

Low Arousal on the Curve - Where is the challenge?

Take a second to learn about Jack from the picture. Does he seem overly in a bad place? Maybe not! As time ticks on however, video games and delivery pizza begin to lose their joy.

Over time, he might find himself becoming increasingly unhappy and bored as nothing he is doing is really challenging him to grow. When he finally does face a new challenge - he might feel overwhelmed or underprepared because he is used to very minimal stressors!

What can he do about it?

Break the cycle, get up off the couch and find something new that he challenges him! Which may seem like an obvious answer- but when is the last time you went out and found a new hobby? It can be scary to try things we aren't good at for the first time. The hardest part of getting out of your comfort zone is the un-comfortability!

Remember to Ask for Help

Whatever that looks like for him or for you! For Jack, and for anyone who might be struggling with some of these issues, reaching out to people who can help can be hugely impactful! Family, friends, teammates, coworkers, people who share your faith are examples of people you can turn to for help. There is also great resources in the counselling community if you are looking to learn and grow.

Please check out and share this free Canada-wide, phone/text/email information:

Optimal Arousal on the Curve- You are being challenged the right amount for growth!

Now let's learn about a luckier soul - Jill! She has been teaching yoga classes in person for 10 years and has had to switch to virtual classes. She may be able to send an email, but she is no computer wiz. With the help of her younger family members she was able to learn to broadcast her classes. It has not been a bump free road, but having a solid income and being able to see new faces has helped her adjust to life in lock-down.

Although she is challenged by the new situation at hand - virtual streaming, she is able to meet the challenge with her skill set and asking for help from her support circle. From this experience she will grow and develop new skills, which in the future will open even more doors for what is possible for her. Jill has been challenged enough to have personal self-growth and development without it getting too overwhelming.

High Arousal - You are being overwhelmed by a challenge too big for your situation!

Sadly, it's time to meet the usually more relatable of the three, Jane. Jane is an overworked young adult who is going though one of the most stressful periods of life; on top of being in a worldwide pandemic.

They once were the picture perfect student, now as the pressure has been building and there are fewer and fewer ways to relax and they have begun to not care. Most of the things that are bothering Jane are external stressors outside of their control.

What can they do about it?

Although Jane cannot simply quit their job, end the pandemic, or drop out of school, they can do somethings to push them back to a more beneficial part of the curve. Engaging in self-care activities, or in plain terms, RELAXING can help take some of the pressure off of us.