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Kaleidoscope of the Heart: It's normal to have ups and downs in our health

Rika Kayama

Every year, when the rainy season hits, I get an increase in visitors to my consulting room saying things like, "I'm not feeling good for some reason," or "I'm feeling even lower than usual," or "My headaches have gotten worse."

    While it has not yet become a clear, widely accepted explanation, there are medical studies that say that when air pressure or humidity change, they affect our blood pressure and nervous system. Humans are animals that live in the natural world, so I think it would be normal for us to be affected by the weather.

    However, even if we are bothered by bad weather we cannot choose to simply not do our jobs or household work. One rule of our society is that everyone should always maintain a set level of productivity.

    Nevertheless, I have long had doubts about this rule. While some days we may be in good shape for work, other days no matter how hard we try we can't get our engine running. It's not just the weather, either. We may be feeling down from an argument with our family the day before. We may be having heartburn from eating an inappropriate combination of foods. We may have suddenly recalled a bad memory from our past. A variety of physical and mental issues can cause us to feel that, "Today I just can't do it." If on such a day we are told, "Do your work at a set pace. If you don't, everyone at your workplace will be inconvenienced," and we are forced to work anyway, that becomes a burden on us and leads to things like depression.

    I sometimes think how it would be nice if we had a device that we could put on our office desk or in our living room that, like a thermometer shows the temperature, would show our condition on that day. On a bad day it might read 30 percent, and we could make it OK for others who see this to help lower that person's workload. In exchange, on a good day when it reads something like 95 percent, they could ask for that person to help out with other people's work. We should be able to have ups and downs in our productivity at work and at home.

    I can imagine some people would say, "What are you saying? If we did that, we wouldn't be able to maintain our society, let alone enhance it." But I still suspect that the idea that we can maintain a society by fitting everyone into a predefined role and making them work like machines is mistaken.

    It's drizzling today, so I think I will wrap up my job earlier than usual, go home and listen to some music. The unfinished work can be done later, on a day when it's nice and sunny. (By Rika Kayama, psychiatrist)

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