While we’re into what feels like one hundred of the COVID crisis, we should expect one hundred more, and start transforming our fatigue.
As a nation, we were all but burned out before the Kraken-like virus emerged from the sea. Now, in what seems like week one hundred of the crisis, many of us are struggling to deal with what I’m labelling CFS, or ‘COVID Fatigue Syndrome’.
In the early stages, we were charged with energy and desire to ‘flatten the curve’. But, months into this new reality, the prolonged mix of anxiety, stress, isolation and disruptions has left us feeling drained.
Part of this fatigue is the uncertainty all of this. Scientists have discovered that six weeks of chronic stress can lead to depressive symptoms, even in people without a prior diagnosis.
What were once safe routines (like grocery shopping or visiting our relatives) have now become moral conundrums. Many of us exhausted by complexity of the myriad decisions that we need to take, in order to stay safe. It’s no wonder that we’re feeling flatter and despondent; unlike anything that we’ve experienced before.
Added to this is the reality that (although we all fantasise about being lone wolves who can fend for ourselves), we are all ultimately driven by a deep need for interconnection and belonging. Just as the feeling of hunger motivates us to seek out food, so too is the adaptive response to loneliness to seek out social connection…but we’re now being told this is too dangerous or socially irresponsible.
To cope with this new reality, we need to break things down to their simplest form. Take one day and decision at a time. Remember, anxiety has a way of making everything feel urgent.
We need to keep focused on our healthy routines, limit our use of alcohol and social media, sleep well, make daily efforts to connect socially by phone or text. Above all, each day, take time to relax and do the things that we enjoy. We also need to look out for ‘emotional fitness’ by taking time just to decompress and laugh, express gratitude either to others or ourselves and set small daily goals for how we want to feel and act.
Given we have no idea how long this is all going to last, focus on what we can control.
There’s no ‘going back to normal’ as ‘normal’ is an illusion of life, rather than living with the truth. You can’t go back to high school. You can’t go back to last summer. We can’t put the genie back in the bottle.
All you can do is take the wisdom and insight from what’s happening, be kind to yourself and move forward. Think about how you want to live today, and how you want to take that into tomorrow.