How to cope with lockdown fatigue
How to cope with lockdown fatigue
Germany's ongoing lockdown situation is straining families, entrepreneurs, and organisations, causing anxiety and insecurity on many levels. The information provided to the German population is scarce, and plans to reopen change weekly.
Family homes are now most probably looking like an office-classroom-cafeteria combo, blurring the lines between work, school, and family time. Lockdown has put a lot of strain on parents, especially on single-parent families, since (most) kindergartens and schools have remained closed since mid-December. This juggling of numerous parental roles has caused distress and has put a heavy load on relationships, while people living in single households have experienced increased social isolation, resulting in high levels of depression and anxiety.
About 1,6 percent of the German workforce have recently lost their jobs; thus, unemployment has made their current psychological state even harder. For those who work, research data from 46 countries shows that people are struggling with general and workplace wellbeing, as the effects of the pandemic continue to multiply. These struggles take a toll on mental health and unleash some of the leading causes of burnout, including a straining workload, the lack of a supportive community, and the assumption of a lack of control over one’s life and work.
In this article, I will share some tips and tricks on coping with lockdown fatigue, to help bring out the best of you and the situation, and how to embrace resilience by preparing for a "new normal”.
Shifting the burden for a better future
As we acknowledge and accept the pandemic's psychological effects on our everyday lives, we can prompt ourselves to do something about it to stop the vicious daily cycles. Here are some tips that you can follow, in this order, to help you regain control over your life:
- Schedule some "me time" during a weekend or a quiet time.
- Make an inventory of the things you can and can't control.
- Do not dwell on the matters you can’t control.
- Prioritise the list of things you have control over.
- Develop a plan and a schedule of when and how you will address the selected activities / things you want to deal with.
- If possible, discuss your plan with your family and loved ones, involve your partner, and get them to buy in on your vision.
- Delegate and distribute tasks among family members (if possible); don’t try to solve everything alone.
- Establish clear boundaries (work, cooking, family time, relaxation, exercise, etc.) and dare to say no when it is needed.
- Implement a weekly visual schedule of activities and stick to it.
- Find time for reward and celebration if you successfully achieved your weekly goals.
If you didn’t achieve your plan within the predetermined time, don't panic; go back and do a reality check, to see whether your goals are achievable, then break it down into smaller steps, ease the load on yourself and others, and try again.
If you feel anxious or depressed
The long-term effects of the pandemic are inevitable. Studies suggest that the wellbeing of 85 percent of the surveyed population across 46 countries has significantly declined in recent months. The issues identified were: a general mental health decline, increased stress, general and COVID-related anxiety, and burnout. If you feel the same way, try the following strategies to alleviate your discomfort and rebalance your mental state:
- Spend some quiet time alone (if you have children, use the morning wee-hours or the evening quiet hours), and if you wish, meditate, or just let your thoughts come and go.
- Are your muscles tense? If the answer is yes, use a guided relaxation meditation. Incorporate this practice into your daily routine until the tension eases.
- Make an inventory of your strengths and acknowledge them. Use that as your ammunition to keep you going.
Are you unsatisfied with your current mental state? Can you address and solve it? If yes, and it is not a severe or sensitive issue, vent it to your partner, friends, or parents. (Make sure to tell them that you are just venting and there's no need for problem-solving; you just want someone to listen without judging, providing solutions or criticism.)
If you experience anxiety or depression that feels paralysing (for instance, you feel that you can’t move, get out of bed or perform your daily hygiene tasks), you have to seek professional assistance. Contact a professional (psychologist, counsellor, behaviour analyst, or life coach) to address your challenge.
The sooner you start, the earlier you'll get through it. Explore free resources, and take advantage of services offered by your local health organisation, professionals or even your health insurance. Often psychologists and counsellors provide free consultation services via telehealth. These professionals can, within a few sittings, help you regain control over your emotional and mental state and resume a quality life.
When life gives you lemons, make lemonade
Research suggests that about 22 percent of the surveyed population actually experienced an improvement in their mental health and general wellbeing during the lockdown period.
They reported having more time for fitness and exercise (due to the time gains from lack of commuting), better mental health associated with less social anxiety, more family time, increased control over boundaries, more opportunities for purposeful growth, healthier eating habits, better sleep, and increased motivation.
Assessing these domains where participants asserted improvement, think about your situation. Is there anything you can do to change your perception of COVID-related distress? Here are some tips to turn the tide and make the lockdown work for you:
- Tackle the areas you want to improve and do something about it.
- Increase your exercise time. Implement short walks or vigorous activities based on your interests, if you’ve been slacking lately.
- Have your kids try out new hobbies or pursue new interests.
- Reform your diet and eating habits.
- If needed, improve your intimate relationship with your partner.
- Clean out your wardrobe and give away what you don’t need.
- Find volunteering opportunities and help those who are in worse situations than yourself.
- Want to establish a new business or side gig? Set aside time to work on it.
Keep your eyes on the silver lining
Pandemics, by their very nature, always taper down and end. Since our generation doesn’t have any direct memories of a worldwide pandemic, we are all on foreign ground. We don't know exactly what the future holds, but we are confident that life will return to a "new normal". You have to keep your focus on the present and on the matters you can control, embracing a forward-looking perspective.
Meditate, and think about what your life might look like when lockdown is over. Where do you see yourself? Do you want to make a change in your life’s trajectory? How do you want to keep growing? What will make your life happy and complete?
Prepare to be flexible in your thinking and adapt to challenging situations. If you need help and assistance, don't be afraid to ask for support. Use your lockdown time mindfully and strive to make the best out of it.