Whether your local area is currently in lockdown, or lockdown has lifted and you are trying to return to a semi-normal life, it can be exhausting. The coronavirus pandemic has been an extremely stressful experience, causing job losses, social isolation and general uncertainty among much more. These stressors are extremely taxing and the term ‘pandemic fatigue’ has begun to circulate as a definition for this common sentiment of tiredness, whether emotionally, physically or mentally. On the other hand, moving out of lockdown into work and social situations can become quite overwhelming. You may be struggling to adjust to your new routine, feeling the effects of social burnout, or are simply grappling with the uncertainty and trepidation that comes with trying to navigate a normal life during a pandemic. If you are feeling burned out or exhausted, here are some ways that may help you to cope.
Almost all elements of the pandemic have been anxiety-inducing and thus exhausting. Many different segments of our pandemic lives have been commonly referred to as tiring, for example; zoom fatigue, emotional exhaustion and pandemic fatigue to name a few. Stress and change can take a physical toll on our bodies, leading to exhaustion. Therefore, it is no wonder that we may be feeling low on energy. Protocols to safeguard against the spread of the virus such as lockdowns and social distancing measures, has caused significant changes to our daily routines. Many of us may be overworking at home to stay afloat, others may be grappling with home-schooling and childcare, some may be struggling with boredom or sleep disruption and the tiredness that comes with it. Our energy levels during lockdown will have changed and whilst seeking longed for social interactions post-lockdown is fantastic and returning to the workplace may be desired, these tasks can quickly become tiring. The routines of work, socialization and relaxation that we had before the pandemic may seem exhausting to us now – which is normal.
Speaking to Red Online, Lyndall Farley, a wellbeing coach and sabbatical specialist said: ‘without routine, stress increases and we’re at a heightened risk of burnout… We’ve all been through a huge amount of change recently,’ she says, ‘as human beings, we’re not built to be under stress for long periods of time or to deal constant change.’ Explaining that many of us will only have just adjusted to our new slower pace of life, before having to contemplate returning to ‘normal,’ now that social restrictions are being lifted.’
Establishing a new routine may help both with uncertainty and fatigue, even if your daily life is still not quite back to normal. Fit your routine around what is normal now, if you are back at work on a part-time basis still try to get up at regular times every day and fill your free days with other activities.
You may have adopted new activities or patterns in lock down that you found to be fulfilling and beneficial. You do not necessarily need to go back to pre-pandemic life, instead you can assimilate some of your newfound joys into your new routine. If you found taking walks outside, gentle exercise, or a new project was beneficial to you make sure that you integrate those into your new life.
Understanding that exhaustion is a normal reaction to the current situation is the first step to being kinder to yourself. Try to keep an eye on your well-being, whether that is your physical, emotional or mental state. You may be feeling stressed from going back to work or re-entering normal life, this is pretty normal, so make sure you take time out of your week to relax. If you are feeling particularly stressed or fatigued, well-being activities such as yoga, tai chi, breathing exercises, and meditation can be helpful tools in managing and maintaining positive well-being levels. Also take the time to reach out to a trusted person to talk about your stresses. Overall, not be hard on yourself if you are feeling exhausted by your new routines, instead make room to recharge.
Exercise and a healthy diet
You may have fallen into the habit of taking more walks during lockdown, this is a good habit to keep. The fresh air and sunshine can be revitalising and gentle exercising can actually provide you with more energy in the long term. If walking is not for you, try to fit other forms of exercise into your day. Try to maintain a level of healthy eating as this will give you more energy throughout the day. Rather than snacking consistently on sugary and junk foods, provide your body with nutrition it needs by substituting in healthier options. If you are finding it hard to sleep, establishing a routine can be very helpful in maintaining consistent and rejuvenating sleep patterns. Go to bed and get up in the morning at the same time every day, avoid taking naps, wind down before bed and limit over use of blue light emitting technology. You may also find that cutting down on caffeine, alcohol, and sugary drinks may help to eliminate fatigue over time.