Are you feeling exhausted from lockdown? You’re not alone. When lockdown began many of us put rainbows of hope in our windows. As I was chatting with my friend yesterday I observed that they were all looking a bit faded and we laughed that her Blu Tack had melted down the windowpane in the heat. My friend said that she was leaving it there as a reminder of the early days of lockdown. I joked that it looked like how I felt right now; it’d started full of hope and now it felt tired and worn.
We chuckled but then my friend said that she feels a ball of anxiety in her chest that she can’t get to all the jobs she needs to do, that she ordinarily would get to and they’re piling up. I agreed and said I felt that too, in fact, there were some days I felt like I was going backwards in terms of what I was able to achieve.
Here are three reasons you may feel exhausted right now:
Why lockdown is making us feel exhausted
One of the key reasons we feel so tired right now is that we’re under increased mental stress. Stress causes that fight, flight, freeze response which takes up energy. Here are some common causes right now:
- Feeling anxious about you or one of your loved ones catching Covid-19
- Worrying about your financial situation
- Maybe your job is at risk or you’ve been made redundant
- Trying to juggle working with parenthood and limited childcare options
- Being in a noisy environment
- Having reduced or no time to yourself
- Missing how life was before Covid-19
There are many more sources of stress that you might be feeling that I haven’t listed. It’s likely you’re feeling a number of these simultaneously which increases your stress levels further.
We’re all using energy to adapt (and readapt) to unfamiliar ways of working and work out new ways to entertain the kids or socialise with friends whilst being socially responsible.
Your sleep is disturbed
As we move our routines we may be going to bed later, waking earlier, napping in the day, or waking through the night. This causes us to feel tired, depleting our physiological resources, and increases our anxiety. This disrupts our sleep, making us more tired and less able to cope. In our house, we call this being ‘tangry’! I’ve noticed myself that I’m sleeping less as I try and fit work and exercise in around parenting responsibilities and I’m definitely more irritable, withdrawn, and tangry. When you are tired you may find you’re finding the following:
- Difficulty in concentrating – this can be particularly challenging if you are working from home or are still going into work. It can also stop you from being ‘in the moment’ when spending time with the people you live with, or when talking over the phone or video chatting with people outside of your household.
- Disorientated and confused – you may be finding that you have been struggling to remember things, so have missed catch-ups with friends or missed deadlines that you would have usually remembered. You may also be finding that you can’t think as clearly as before and are sometimes struggling to speak clearly
- More clumsy than usual – becoming less co-ordinated, including bumping into things or knocking over and dropping items more frequently. You may also be finding that you are making mistakes that you wouldn’t usually make
Increased mental load
Lockdown has added so much to our mental to-do list. Lockdown learning, childcare, and supporting elderly or vulnerable relatives or neighbours. That quickly depletes energy levels. For many of us who’ve been furloughed, there’s no schedule and it feels like there’s no purpose. It feels boring, monotonous, like Groundhog Day. This combination of lack of structure and stimulation can mean you fall into a place of apathy.
For me, I find the feelings of apathy mean I don’t nourish my body and mind. I stop doing yoga, making healthy choices foodwise, and don’t drink enough. I find myself mindlessly watching TV and/or scrolling through social media.
So how do we cope?
Covid-19 isn’t going anywhere soon and we do need to come to terms with the changes. I think it’s important we don’t set ourselves toxic goals like ‘when Covid is over I’m going to be able to get back to normal’ or ‘I’ll get that task done when I get time to myself’. This is because we can’t control the outcome of the conditions we’ve set.
All we can do is live in this moment, taking each day as it comes and rest/work as appropriate. It doesn’t mean you can’t look forward to events in the future, that’s really important for our mental well-being, but choose things that aren’t dependent on external forces.
Creating a routine, as best you can, will help you. Prioritise sleep, rest, work and nourishing yourself. Ensure you’re taking regular breaks from your work if you’re working and try and get outside. It’s also important to be kind to yourself. You may not be as productive or motivated as usual – and that’s OK. Give yourself credit for any little achievement in this time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty by using a ta-da list. In doing so you will realise you’re not going backwards at all, you’re achieving more than you think, it just might be different to what you thought you’d be achieving. That’s OK too.
Lockdown is representing change for us all and a challenge for many. Some of it provides us with the opportunity to spend time where we have not been able to in the past. My partner is loving being at home for dinner with the girls and me and I am enjoying the slower pace of life (sometimes!). There are unique opportunities for us to grow, but to do so we need to be happy and healthy, and in these uncertain times we need to make sure we’re structured, exercising and sleeping well so that we can stay sane. This won’t last forever so do what you can and focus on the things that are important to you.