At the beginning of this tragic drama that started almost a year ago, it occurred to me that my desired trip to the hairdresser was probably going to be postponed for a little while. With the summer season around the corner and end of school celebrations on the horizon, I needed a change of hairstyle – shoulder-short and bangs (my hair was already on the shorter end). My mother offered her help and as you can imagine the result came out, well, without a professional finish.
By all means, it was not horrible, but my friend and I did have a good laugh about it over zoom, naturally. Considering that my life had been reduced to zoom calls all day I was not too horrified by or worried about showing my home-cut hairstyle.
I am sure that most people have entertained themselves with the comedic videos of people attempting to cut bangs on their own and the result being less than desirable. You would think that we would learn from each other’s mistakes and avoid such attempts or at least get it done professionally. Yet, here I am, in lockdown number 87 (or so it feels), feeling the urge of cutting bangs again! My only question is why on earth do I have this impulse to take a risk and make a change?
Biology might explain our urges
In the several 100,000 years of the Homo Sapiens’ existence, our brains are still wired in very much the same way. Ancient fears of starvation or being without shelter have steered us in the direction of pursuing stability and routine. It makes sense that we seek well-paid jobs as a way of avoiding or at least preparing ourselves for potential dangers and disasters. It’s an instinct. Control and routine are vital assets in securing our survival. Having a routine in our day-to-day lives reduce stress levels and aids keeping a healthy sleep and food habit.
From a biological viewpoint, it seems only logical that having an established routine in place would give us a sense of control and satisfaction. However, what is different this time, is that the routine that has been created is far from voluntary (and additionally it’s spiced up with fears of how the future might unfold).
As much as we need stability, being stuck in the same routine can cause mental health issues, too, such as the ones we are experiencing now. Reports of depression and (social) anxieties, to name a couple, have grown since the beginning of the pandemic, with numbers of people feeling some form of depression in the UK going from about 1 in 10, pre-pandemic, to almost 1 in 5 in June 2020.
To cope with or break free from the unstimulating routines we take risks, start new projects, face challenges and explore our limits and fears. The relationship between stability and impulsive change is a fine romance. They are very compatible and the parallelism of these two practices creates joyful moments and thrust us forward in life.
There is control in the changes
To create change in our lockdown routines we have collectively found joy in undiscovered hobbies and for some of us, zoom dates and birthdays have been the only way of spending (virtual) time with our loved ones. ‘Finding joy in the little things in life’ is a phrase that has truly blossomed during the last year.
Yet, it can be argued that these changes are really adaptations in a situation where quick adjustments are necessary for us to thrive. This brings me back to my hair speculation. Sometimes we get urges to do something particular that we cannot explain. Hobbies are great as pass-time activities or to get us away from the desk and the screens, but they are not guaranteed ways of achieving satisfaction.
Urges to change certain stuff occurs sporadically, whether it be moving all the furniture around in your sitting area or cutting one’s hair with kitchen scissors. However irrational or stupid it may be – that is the change. In addition to the satisfying release of hormones rushing through your body, you are actively deciding to take control over your choices and options when you give in to your impulsive urges and make a change, says Manhattan psychologist Dr Appio. It is not unusual that we seek these changes in periods where we have experienced stressful situations and things have felt out of our hands.
So while seeking change to break free from unstimulating stability, we are simultaneously finding control in the changes and rewarded with a dose of hormones: it’s a win-win! And this feels particularly good in a pandemic. It is quite paradoxical that at one and the same time we need control to survive, but change to live.
Who knows, by the time this is published I may have given in to my urges and found control.
FEATURED IMAGE CREDIT: InStyle