There are lots of messages out there about how to make the most of the pandemic-induced lockdown. You might feel pressure to do all those things you’ve always wished you had time to do…and then berate yourself for not doing them. If you have the energy and headspace to get stuck into some projects, it’s a brilliant time to do so. But if not, remember we are all under a significant level of stress, even if Covid-19 is not affecting your own health, or the people you love. This ongoing stress can lead to feelings of lethargy, anxiety, or general unease.
A recent article explains this concept of “allostatic load” in more detail. Essentially, it’s about recognising that the ongoing uncertainty and disruption to our daily lives and the loss of physical connection to others is having an impact on us, no matter what else is going on.
If you’re feeling tired and foggy-headed, here are some ideas to help you go easy on yourself in these difficult days.
Recognise your experience
“We’re in the same storm but we all have different boats” – I’ve seen this phrase doing the rounds on social media over recent weeks and it makes a lot of sense. It’s easy to think to ourselves “why am I finding it so hard when others in worse situations seem to be doing ok”, or “why are other people complaining so much, when they don’t have to deal with everything I’ve got going on”.
Notice your own boat – what are the challenges and what are the blessings that come with your particular vessel? Recognise that whatever you’re experiencing is valid, no matter what others are feeling. And remember that although we can see the outside of other peoples boats, we don’t know what’s inside, or indeed what’s under the surface of the water.
Notice the impact
What effect is the current situation having on you? If you’re finding things difficult how does that show up for you?
Perhaps it’s a lack of energy, emotional sensitivity, a high state of anxiety, irritability, a sense of being on edge, wanting to shut down and close off. How are you feeling?
And how does it feel in your body? Heaviness, light-headedness, nerves jangling, headaches, body aches, restlessness, or some other sensations.
Lower your expectations and get rid of “should”
We often think we “should” be different in some way. I should be coping better / doing more / making the most of things / maximising quality time / scheduling more video calls / relishing simple pleasures / getting those big projects done – how many of these thoughts have you had? Although pushing yourself to get up and do something can help shift your energy at times, you might also need to give yourself some grace. Let yourself off the hook and lower your expectations.
Depending on your circumstances you might be having to get up every day to work as a key worker, coming home exhausted and anxious about your health. Or you might be struggling to fill long empty days, feeling worried about finances and ongoing uncertainty. Whatever you’re dealing with, perhaps it’s enough that you’re getting through each day.
In many ways, lockdown is forcing us all to simplify our lives. How can you simplify things further to help you feel more at ease in these difficult times?
For me, I’ve struggled to be motivated in my own yoga practice but it’s been so helpful to follow a yoga teacher on YouTube and be led by someone else for a change. It takes the pressure off in having to figure out what I want to do each day. And knowing I don’t have that cognitive burden means I find it easier to roll out my mat and just switch on my iPad.
How can you simplify things to ease the mental or emotional load?
Stress and uncertainty makes us feel on edge which sends our sense of humour packing. Laughter can help to break the tension.
Put on your favourite comedy (my current favourite is “Working Moms”), watch funny animal videos, or call a friend who makes you laugh.
And see if you can make the choice to be more lighthearted – can you see the funny side in a mishap rather than getting frustrated or annoyed (with yourself or others)?
Maybe you’ve been having virtual get together with friends and family every day of the week, or maybe you’ve gone into cocoon mode. Either way, reaching out and connecting with people we love is pretty vital right now when we can’t physically be together.
I’m going through phases with this, from feeling overwhelmed and non-responsive (sorry loved ones of mine!), to having a flurry of contact, messages and calls. Since we’re all in the same storm I notice that others are doing the same to varying degrees. I hope we’re all giving each other a little grace in connecting when we can and leaving space when we need to.
How can you go easy on yourself during these lockdown days?