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Gulf & Main Magazine

The Ostrich Effect: Our Misinterpretation of a Caring Bird

Jul 03, 2022 01:31PM ● By Daniela J. Jaeger

You’ve heard the saying, “Get your head out of the sand.” You might even know that it references the old belief that an ostrich sticks its head in the ground to hide from predators. That idea has long been proven false. The ostrich doesn’t bury its head to avoid conflict. Nor does it do so to protect itself, as foolish as that would be to try. The real reasons an ostrich sticks its head in the sand might surprise you. 

As it turns out, the ostrich buries its eggs in holes in the ground. Then it cares for them by poking down with its beak and turning the eggs over so they stay evenly warm. If you see an ostrich that looks like it is sticking its head in the sand, you are not witnessing a fearful act, but a caring act. 

People today still refer to the ostrich effect with disdain: “Stop burying your head in the ground and face the situation.” If you get such advice, ask yourself if you’re projecting the misconception, or the reality. Your well-meaning friend might be misinterpreting your apparent inaction. It may look like you are hiding from reality, when in fact you are actually caring for something that your friend can’t see. 

This especially rings true in regard to health and wellness, which is what this issue of your favorite magazine is all about. When your body or mind tells you something is not right, which ostrich will you be like? The one that sticks its head in the sand to hide, or the one that sticks its head down deep to care for what is unseen?  

We owe it to ourselves and our loved ones to “dig deep” and deal with our own self-care. We get pretty good at looking after our children, spouses, friends, homes, and businesses. But too often, when it comes to caring for our own health and wellness, we bury our heads because we are either too busy or trying to avoid something.  

The ostrich also keeps its heads low to the ground for protection against predators, camouflaging itself and appearing smaller. How we’ve misunderstood these magnificent birds! Far from being cowardly, they are smart… and caring. 

So, be more like the ostrich, using your head to care for others and for yourself. You can start by perusing the articles in this July/August issue. For example, learn how simple breathing techniques can calm your nervous system and overworked mind in “Just Breathe.” Take a short excursion to find a wellness retreat that can help you refocus, recenter, and rejuvenate—“Getting Away from It All” tells you about three such escapes in or near Southwest Florida. Caring for your furry friends takes the forefront in “The CBDs of Pet Wellness,” which looks at alternative treatments for your pets when traditional veterinary protocols aren’t working. 

Here’s hoping that your summer will be filled with sun, sand, and wellness!   


Daniela J. Jaeger 

Group Publisher, TOTI Media