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[Anna] I decided to go for a massage. It may sound simple, but in fact it was a big event for me. I value body well-being, but massage is not my thing – I don't like pain and this is the only thought that pops up when I think about a massage – and I'm not that comfortable with other people touching my body. Yet, there was a good opportunity with a masseuse I trust, so I decided to give it a try. The reaction of the masseuse to my back was quite... terrifying. She was shocked by how stiff my back is... and so did I. But only when she asked if I still have the feeling of touch in my palms or if I suffer from migraine did I realize how serious it can get. But this is not the story of my back or about migraines (which btw, I experience since a while), it's a story about hidden stress and the consequences of pandemic we may all be ignoring only till some extent. I was surprised by the condition of my back because in fact I do everything I should to keep it in shape – regular exercises, stretching, etc. And, I believed, I don't live a stressful life, not enough at least to justify that. But then, inspired by deep discussions I had with people very dear to me, I started to connect the dots. It is not just my my back to be tense. There are millions of micro signals that things are not going well. Conflicts in so many groups I belong to. Accusation and heated words against each other. Conflicts and accusations which are more extreme than ever before. People who suddenly cannot collaborate anymore or declare they will never sit at the same table with other people they were in fairly good relationship before. Organizations and companies falling apart even with a decent financial situation. Low mood and apathy. I know I'm one of the most privileged people, living in good conditions and not worrying about making ends meet. I don't have children, I didn't lose my job, I don't experience any kind of violence. So I thought – ok, I don't like pandemic, it makes me frustrated and sad but, as long as I don't get sick, it's not such a distress. It is. It's a trauma we are experiencing all together and which has consequences not only on the economy. We will have a collective PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder), we will have to work out the trauma together. Not yet, as we are still in the middle of it, but we have to start to realize that when the pandemic is over, things will not just come back to „normality”. We are and we will be traumatised, and this influences not only our wallet, thoughts and emotions but also our bodies, our relations with others, our souls. Taking care of yourself, but above all, taking care of each other was never as urgent. We have to start to speak up and discuss not only how to make our initiatives survive in these uncertain times but also how we make ourselves survive. We have to look deeper to understand all the swirls going on inside ourselves and name them as much as possible to take some power off them. Unconscious traumas are much more dangerous than those which are spoken up. We speak about them to some extent, as it's difficult to have today any conversation which doesn't touch the “corona” topic, but we have to go deeper. We have to accept there is much more stress inside and outside of us than we assume. We need to be patient – with ourselves and with others - and understand that a lot that's going on between us has nothing to do with us in fact. Pandemic stress influences everything we do. Since last March we experience uncertainty, we are scared that we or those we love can die, we have to face ever-changing conditions and we are almost completely isolated, deprived of human touch. It has to have consequences. The sooner and the more honestly we start to observe them and speak them out, the more chance we have to protect our bodies, minds, souls and relations.

P.S.1 If you need a massage in Poland (or even if you don't but you realized it's good to check how your body is dealing with the situation) – Marta is definitely a choice.

P.S.2 We wrote a lot around stress and dealing with difficult situations in the last changemaker story „We (don't) need your sacrifice”. And if you haven't seen yet the Nagosky sisters' speech about closing the stress cycle, watch it. And close as many stress cycles as you can.

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