Beating COVID Fatigue
Are you lacking your usual energy and get-up-and-go? You're not alone. Covid Fatigue is real but we don't have to let it derail us.
I don't know about you, but lately I am more moody, less energetic, more easily angered, less optimistic and generally way more blah than I think have ever been in my life. I have some bursts of energy, but trying to work and take care of my family and myself feels so draining and I often lose focus. Worse, there doesn't seem to be any consistent way to fill myself back up. It's like I am running constantly on the verge of empty.
Are you feeling the same?
This year has been rough. Every day new unknowns pop up that affect every decision we need to make, making it impossible some days to make any decision at all. Not making a decision however is not an option so with each new change every decision needs to be reanalyzed and possibly changed. And the process seems to repeat itself daily.
Add to that the constant state of unknowns and upheavals and general chaos in every aspect of our culture and it's enough to get out of bed each morning let alone muster up the energy to actually accomplish anything.
This past week I heard a term that was new to me: Covid Fatigue. According to this UC Davis Health post, Covid-Fatigue is a real symptom of the pandemic-survival season we are in:
“We know there are two kinds of stress that have long-term effects on our mental well-being and physical health – intense stress and prolonged stress,” Hermanson said. “We have both.”
Add to that the uncertainty about, well, almost everything.
“We have unknowns in every part of our lives,” she said. “At the same time, a lot of the things we generally do to cope, the things we enjoy and that give life meaning, have changed or been put off limits.”
So, you and I are, in essence, experiencing the effects of both intense and prolonged stress that we have very limited capacity to end or fix. Wonderful.
However, we still need to work, take care of our families, have some fun, and basically build a life we can tolerate living. How do we do that? I have a few ideas...
1. According to the article, exercise is important. But, what if you just aren't in the mood? I get it, but here's the thing: You can't get in a better mood or more motivated to exercise until you start exercising. So, start small. Commit to 5 minutes of walking up and down your stairs, one trip around the block, a dance party in your living room to one song. This is important. Exercise releases happy hormones which we need to combat this prolonged stress. It matters so just start small and keep moving every day.
2. Face-to-face human interaction is important. But, what if you aren't in the mood for this either? We are supposed to social-distance and self-quarantine and wear a mask, but that doesn't mean we can't still talk to people. While it may feel like a huge effort, it's worth it because when we interact with others it releases more happy hormones which not only make us feel better but also motivate us to do what we need to get done. So, the next time you are at the grocery store, or out taking that quick walk around the block, talk to those you see (from a safe distance). Or, make a special effort to Facetime or Zoom with friends or simply call a friend for no other reason than to chat.
3. Internal reflection is important. But what if you don't like your thoughts? Many of us are dealing with a ton of changes and unknowns we have no control over (especially if you have school-age children!). Our minds can be filled with racing thoughts, processing ways we can gain control over something, and even all the fears we have. This is not good for any of us. Taking time to reflect on all that's going on in our heads can release some of that pressure. It can also help us get rid of distractions so we can focus on what we actually can do. Try to schedule in 5 minutes at various intervals throughout the day (especially if you have trouble concentrating) to do a "brain dump" where you get out all the thoughts in your head and then cross off things you have no control over.
4. Developing a mindset of gratitude is important. But what if you don't feel grateful? There is a lot of loss, anger and frustration for all of us because of this pandemic. It's easy to get caught up in all of that and forget to look for what we can be grateful for. Too long focusing on the negative though fills us with dread and fear and even envy, none of which are good for us. If gratitude is hard right now, start small: focus on what you do have whenever you find yourself getting discouraged for what you have lost. This isn't about not acknowledging the negative, but instead looking from it to whatever we do have going right in our lives and letting our focus linger there instead.
None of us knows for sure when all this will end. Sad as that is, we still have a choice. We can choose to succumb to Covid Fatigue and lose precious time with friends and family, productivity and momentum in work (or looking for work), and even personal health and wellbeing, or we can choose to fight through, exercising our motivation muscles in starting small and taking one small step forward at a time.
Battling Covid Fatigue is not easy, I know. I have been struggling with it for about a month. Rarely do I feel like exercising, but I walk every day. Rarely do I feel like reaching out to friends, but I do because it is good for both of us. I will be adding regular brain dumps this week as well as focused, intentional, gratitude and redirect my thoughts from all that isn't going according to my plan. I, my work and my family are all worth that effort, even if I don't feel like it.
This is true for you, too.
If you would like help processing how to beat Covid Fatigue for yourself, developing an action plan for moving forward, or setting personal or career goals, I'd love to help. Schedule a free Discovery Call today to learn how I can help you process all you are experiencing in a healthy way.
Join the Conversation: What has been the worst part of Covid fatigue for you?
If you are new here, I am a retired educator (public, charter, and homeschool), parent of a 20-something and a college freshman, and an Education Coach and Consultant who guides students, parents, and educators in navigating the education and career development journey through retirement.