Living through a pandemic is exhausting. Days quickly blend into nights, like an old movie spinning endlessly on its reel. The movie plot it seems has become boring, with very little room for spontaneity and excitement. Day in and day out we are held hostage by routine. In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, our lives as we once knew them have changed tremendously and seemingly overnight. We are navigating a new and almost surreal existence. We are isolated, on constant alert and unsure of when this will end and what will come next.
With the summer season just around the corner, we wonder will the beaches open on Memorial Day Weekend? What about summer camps, will our kids finally get out of the house and enjoy friends and nice weather? Will we be able to take that much anticipated and needed summer vacation? And what about community filled Fourth of July Celebrations, will we bar-b-que with family and friends this year? With the patchwork re-opening of businesses, state by state, we wonder what is really safe? It appears we may be left to decide for ourselves what risks we are willing to endure to break the monotony of daily routine.
With so little happening in self isolation we ask ourselves why we feel so tired and run-down all the time? Parental and employee burnout under lockdown is intensely real and when we begin to isolate and examine the variables causing this exhaustion, we can clearly see the why and the need for some creative solutions. From a purely physical perspective the anxiety surrounding so much uncertainty can cause increased heart rate and blood pressure. We walk around holding the tension in our muscles and we clench our jaws from stress. At night we may have trouble falling asleep or we may wake multiple times throughout the night. All this anxiety sends our nervous system into overdrive leaving us physically and mentally exhausted.
We are also juggling and multi-tasking more than ever. For parents working from home and trying to manage homeschooling and taking care of children’s needs the work day is filled with so many interruptions, large and small that the workday never seems to end. Multiple back to back zoom calls are exhausting. And where there were once clear boundaries between work and home life, these boundaries have almost entirely disappeared. We answer work calls and emails while cooking dinner or bathing the baby and often late into the night . Even the sanctity of once sacred weekends has been thrown out with the pre-coronavirus trash.
With no end yet in sight, finding relief might seem hopeless. But thankfully there are some simple ways to take control of coronavirus mental and physical fatigue.
- Draw Boundaries: With work and home boundaries blending, now more than ever drawing clear, concise boundaries is important. A visual calendar can serve as a useful tool. Give yourself permission to shut down your computer and stop answering work calls at a certain time. Set limits and communicate them clearly. In the long run, building and preserving better boundaries will leave you feeling rested and give you better clarity and focus to perform work related tasks.
- Change it up: Just because your isolating at home doesn’t mean each day needs to look the same as the one before. Change it up, by trying new recipes or take out from a new restaurant. If you have a car, take a drive to a beautiful place you haven’t seen before. With parks reopening, scope out a new hike or place to picnic. Make a “bucket-list” of things you have been meaning to do but haven’t had the time. Writing goals down and checking them off is always a satisfying and energizing experience.
- Get Some Sunlight: With warm weather upon us, get outside, breathe the fresh air and get some sunlight. Regular exposure to sunlight is a great way to build and replenish your Vitamin D. And remember Vitamin D is essential for boosting your energy levels and reducing fatigue.
- Take That Vacation: Just because you can’t travel at the moment, don’t let that your vacation fall to the wayside. Taking breaks from work is important. An impromptu “mental-health” day will do wonders. Or better yet schedule a full week off of work if you can. Take the time to work on a project with your family. Get outside and go camping if that is something that you enjoy. Think outside the box and you will certainly find something you enjoy and that is relaxing. Time away from your desk will leave you feeling refreshed and energized when you return to work.
Lastly, remember that just like a racecar driver, the endless laps around the track might look the same while we wait the coronavirus out. But the strategy for success and winning is in the pit stop. Remember to take time for regularly scheduled maintenance before you need it and remember sometimes you might need fuel, while other times you might need to come in to fill your tires with air. Listen to yourself and what you need and in no time you will have more energy and focus at work, at home and for the things you love and enjoy.