We’re coming up on the one year anniversary of global lockdowns due to the coronavirus pandemic, and many of us are fatigued. Zoom fatigue, pandemic fatigue, virtual chat fatigued, people are over it. So many of us feel depleted, tired of re-living the same groundhog day over and over again. People are drinking more, seeking out more pharmaceuticals, and we are, as a whole, facing mental health challenges.
I don’t have an answer to erase all your pain, or to make the pandemic end faster, but I do feel like after some highs and lows, after financial uncertainty and a busted heart, after trying (unsuccessfully) to use my old, unhealthy coping mechanisms, this is what I’ve found that works to keep me sane, keep me hopeful, and keep me in a high frequency place…most of the time.
Tips for Overcoming Your Pandemic Fatigue
Don’t Fight It
Suppressed emotions come back threefold. It took me about thirty years to learn this. When we stuff down our emotions, we think we’re filing them neatly away, but they just get stronger and then burst out in inappropriate ways later on when we do this.
Allow yourself to grieve, to cry, to feel sad or angry. This year is no joke! We’ve literally been faced with life threatening situations, whether that is from the virus itself or the repercussions of lockdown, isolation, and economic hardship. Telling yourself this is no big deal and to suck it up isn’t doing you or anyone any favors.
There is a difference between falling into despair and staying there, and having a good cry and a nap and then dusting yourself off and moving forward. Aim for the latter.
Check Your Coping Mechanisms
The shock and loss we’ve all experienced this year has had many turning to unhealthy coping mechanisms, whether that’s through drinking, smoking, getting high, shopping, binging TV, overeating, or endlessly scrolling social media.
Hey, I’m guilty, too. When I’m stressed, I sometimes have to fight my brain to not immediately go for the wine, ice cream or bad reality TV. I am only human. Sometimes I have all three.
When we are using these things to consistently numb out, however, and they are causing us more harm than good (we’re not keeping up with our responsibilities, we’re not at a healthy weight, our finances are suffering, we wake up hung over, etc.) there comes a time when you have to ask yourself, is this really helpful?
Ice cream, wine, and shopping feel great in the moment, but overindulging in any of these things causes more harm than good.
Like any habit, in order to overcome it, you’ll have to replace it. Making art, reading, meditating, going on walks, working out, calling up a friend, cooking a healthy meal, listening to music, or cleaning/ organizing your space while listening to a good podcast can all be alternative ways to unwind that will enrich your life.
Make time and budget for your fun, your booze, your reality TV, your shopping, but don’t let it take over your life.
Switch it Up!
Tired of living the same day over and over again? Then stop. Switch it up. The pandemic has thrown a wrench in things, but it hasn’t stopped life.
Get out of town for a weekend. Go rent an airbnb somewhere for a month. Go for a walk in a different part of town. Get your nails done. Go ice skating. Host a social distance bonfire hangout. Buy a new board game and play with your household. Spray paint all your furniture fun colors. Pick up a new book. Try a new workout. Take a class and learn something new. Move to a new city. Try a new restaurant. Make a new recipe. Bake a vegan cake.
If you’re tired of doing the same thing, do something different.
Do Something for Someone Else
So often, we get so stuck on our own problems and worries that we forget everyone else has their own.
This tip helps twofold because 1.) you realize we’re all in this together, and all facing our own hardships no matter how shiny and pretty our lives may or may not look from the outside and 2.) Doing something nice for someone else will make you feel better AND get you out of your pity party.
Look, I’m not trying to say you don’t have it rough. I’m sure you do. We’re all facing our own demons. Helping someone else, though, takes the focus off you, makes you feel good, and offers some perspective.
You can: volunteer your time, donate money to charity, adopt a pet, shovel snow for a stranger, bring lunch to essential workers, give money or buy lunch for someone asking for help on the street, bake cookies for someone you love.
There are endless ways to give and be of service, and endless needs people in the world need met. Give a little something every day. You don’t have to be rich. You can give a dollar, a sincere compliment, or even your time.
Make Time for What Lights You Up
Whether it’s crafting, thrifting, baking, cooking, yoga, dance, writing, floral arrangements, decorating, long walks in nature, or music, make time daily for the things that light you up. Life isn’t cancelled, it’s not on hold, it’s just… different for a while.
Surround Yourself with Reminders
Whenever I read something in a book, or hear something on a podcast that inspires me or makes me feel good, or it just hits a certain way, I write it on a post it and stick them around my house. I have one in my living room that says, “Humans are afraid of the unknown. That’s a human trait. But sometimes you have to dive into the unknown to see that it’s not so scary.” – Sarah Silverman
One in my kitchen that says, “What would a monk do in this moment?”
I have two on my bedroom mirror that say, “May all beings everywhere be happy and free, and may the thoughts, words, and actions of my own life contribute in some way to that happiness and freedom for all.” and “I am happy about who I am becoming. I am open to all opportunities and possibilities. I am ready to serve with all I have.”
These little reminders keep me on track and remind me of what headspace I want to be in, and how I want to live my life.
That’s the thing with life, no matter how much you meditate, how many gratitude lists you make, shit still hits the fan on a regular basis, and keeping our minds right and staying positive isn’t just something you learn once and then you’re good to go forever. It requires consistent maintenance. Reminders help you stay the course.
I was raised catholic, but never believed in religion. I consider myself spiritual and I dabble in research/ teachings from many religions, and have never felt more connected to, drawn to, and reliant on faith and spirituality this year than ever before.
It doesn’t have to be about God if you don’t want it to. You can choose to have faith, to trust in the Universe, in every strange twist and turn this life gives us. Having faith equals less panic. Panic literally solves nothing. If the thing you don’t want to happen happens, well, great, your panic didn’t stop it, and if the thing you don’t want to happen doesn’t happen, you just wasted your life being stressed about nothing. Panic doesn’t offer us solutions to our problems, it doesn’t offer us wellbeing, or health.
Life is simply better, and more peaceful, when you have faith.
Maybe you are comfortable seeing a small number of people in person, at a distance, maybe you are not. Either way, there are ways to prioritize our relationships, and it’s so important to do that right now. Humans are social creatures, and we need to connect with others. Even if you’re comfortable spending loads of time alone, please reach out to and connect with others.
Go on walks with a friend. Reach out and have a phone call or a face time. Have distance gatherings with a few family members, or hang out outside. Spend quality time playing with your pets. Maybe consider virtual therapy.
Get your exercise, take your vitamins, eat fruits and vegetables, get enough sleep, drink water.
It may seem annoying if you’re not in the habit, but you’ll feel so much better. Now is not the time to let our health and self care fall by the way side. Taking care of ourselves is a form of self respect, and we can only show up for our dreams if we show up for ourselves in these simple ways first.
Let it be.
Let things be as they are. Don’t fight them. Things are hard. It’s ok to let them be hard. You are strong, and you will get through this. Let life be messy, complicated, full of good days, bad days, and everything in between. Let life happen, and focus on accepting the present moment, no matter how it looks.