Pandemic burnout

6 Tips for Anyone Hitting a Pandemic Wall

In what feels like a dystopian time – everyone has almost a full year’s worth of experience living through a pandemic. With the rollout of vaccines on the horizon, there is an end in sight for many and we can start thinking about the new chapter of economic recovery, personal growth and tackling life after the Coronavirus. But before we get there – there’s something we’ve got to face – this unsaid feeling we’re collectively wrestling with – a new low. 

Surviving, working, and living through a pandemic has heightened our burnout experience.

They’re calling it the ‘Pandemic Wall’ – the result of having no respite from doom and gloom news, working – or not working – job seeking, schools being closed – unstimulated children at home, and more pandemic-familiar situations we’ve accepted as the new normal. 

Burnout Explained 

You might’ve faced burnout before the pandemic – the feeling of physical, emotional, or mental exhaustion accompanied by decreased motivation, lowered performance, and negative attitudes toward yourself and others. It’s caused when high-functioning performances of daily tasks are overcome by stress and tension due to prolonged cognitive or physical exertion and overburdening. In other words: you’ve just had too much – your cup is empty and your spoons are all used up.

Signs You’re Burning Out

There are many ways burnout can manifest: changes in your physiological state – feeling physically unwell, tense, fatigued more often – increased irritability, disassociation, and a lack of motivation. You might find your hopes dwindle, your optimism fizzles out, and you stop finding joy in formerly comfortable, happy spaces. 

The Pandemic Created a New Kind of Burnout 

Though burnout is no new phenomenon, the pandemic has created a new mutation of it: one more widespread, potentially harder to treat, and more misunderstood than ever. Particularly because when we regularly face these challenges, we know that these situations are temporary – the pandemic, however, removes the limited time factor that formerly gave us a sense of comfort. We are uncertain of the future of the pandemic and the world at large, making this burnout harder to come to terms with and heal from. The alarm bells have been ringing for far too long – longer than we are able to comprehend and process appropriately – and they keep ringing as we hear the news of new strains, vaccine delays, and other stresses out of our direct control. Our collective emotional and physical stamina is a red, beeping, flashing light low. Even more disheartening – we can’t lean on our friends and family for support as closely as we’d like and need. We only have so many coping skills and options to turn to – making this harder than ever. 

6 Ways to Start Climbing Over the Pandemic Wall

1. Socialise Safely (You Need It – But You Also Need to Be Responsible) 

Choose a loved one you trust to set up a precaution-safe visit. In the old world we knew and loved, you might bump into a friend or family member on one of your many stops during the week – now, it’s unlikely that you have any positive uplifting contact – or at least, enough of it. 

Now, we need to take initiative and book dates for our mental health and empty social meters. Of course, the onus is on you and your guest to be responsible at all times and reschedule if one of you is feeling unwell – keep taking your daily supplements and wearing your mask through it all. 

2. Do Something to Feel Like You Again

If you’ve been wearing PJs to your work meetings with the camera off for a few months, maybe it’s time to put your work clothes back on – recreate the routine you once had, in a new light. Reclaim the parts of your day that feel lost: your morning routine, lunch breaks, and getting out for some air. If you’re working from home – a walking or pet-cuddling break never hurts. In fact, treating your home as your home and not a limbo-office that you’re trapped in from 9-5 might make you feel more normal.

3. Get Out of the House (Safely)

Even your weekly trip to the shops isn’t enough to sate your need for the outdoors or the sweet embrace of fresh air outside your door. Take a long enough walk, run, cycle, skip – something to make you feel alive outside again. If you’re thinking of going big: why not go on a local adventure, somewhere not too far and not too close – to make the days feel longer (in a good way) and more worthy. 

4. Indulge in Small Pleasures

Yes – it’s going to sound a little bit wishy-washy – but, it works. The mind is a powerful machine that you can manipulate to feel good with breaks of gratitude and positive thinking. Find ways to fill your cup as the days pass – with small actions – like, making a really good breakfast that you have time to savour before the day really begins. Actions that allow you to be present and recognise the value in them. Create stimulating and positive experiences for your psyche to benefit from. 

5. Vent (Seriously)

Whether you’re seeing a therapist or chatting to someone close to you, you need to get those feelings out – whatever they are. Venting about this, sharing your experiences, and putting it into words can all help you release and move on from what’s currently bothering you and distracting you.

6. Distance Yourself From What Harms You

A critical part of reducing emotional and physical stress is cutting back on receiving flashes of information that cause you to distress on social media and the internet at large. Don’t fall into attention-grabbing headlines with misinformation to make you panic – cut back on teeth-clenching, nail-biting news on a daily basis. Catch up at the end of the week, that’s all you need to stay in the know. 

With all that said and done, above all: take care and be well. Keep hanging in there – we’re rooting for you. 

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