I know, you’re as tired of Covid as I am. For months, we’ve all had to deal with the constant threat of illness, layoffs, and deaths while being denied our typical coping strategies like social gatherings, eating out, and family holidays. It’s led to widespread emotional exhaustion that has a name: COVID fatigue.
Covid fatigue hurts more than our mental health. It puts our physical health at risk, too. Covid fatigue causes us to get sloppy about the precautions we know we should take like washing hands, wearing masks, and maintaining physical distance. As we enter the second year of this the exhaustion is paramount.
Like any stressor, Covid causes our bodies to respond with what is known as the fight-or-flight response (which despite the name is four possible responses):
Stresses are not supposed to be long-term or permanent. The stressor triggers our fight-or-flight response and then we use a variety of coping skills to calm ourselves down when the stressor is over. But Covid is not giving us that break. We’re just not prepared to handle a stress that goes on this long. As a result, we’re increasingly freezing or fauning, which often manifests as Covid fatigue.
Exercise: Any exercise – even a simple walk – helps. It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful.
Express Yourself: Whether through talk, writing in a journal, being creative, we release the worry and stress that we’ve been holding in before it builds up to a traumatic level. Ignoring feelings doesn’t make them go away. It’s like trying to hold a beachball underwater, eventually you lose control and it pops out. You can’t control where it goes or who it hits.
Compassion: Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, ‘I’m doing the best I can, and so are others’.
Pay Attention to What You Are Watching: Staying informed is important but inundating yourself with information can add to your Covid fatigue. Consider limiting yourself to a few trustworthy news sources, as well as how much time per day you spend consuming the news. Be especially mindful of social media, which can easily spread disinformation and content specifically designed to upset you.
Mindfulness and gratitude: Try being in the moment. You’re right here, in this chair, breathing and looking around. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. What do you have to be grateful for? Focus on what you have.
If you feel you need more help, please reach out to the resources available in your area. A doctor, a therapist, even a friend. Make sure you look after yourself.
Creative Exercise - Mindful Mandala
A really simple mindful and creative expression is to watercolor a spiral on a page. You can use one color or many. After you have let it dry take a fine point black pen and outline every edge, slowly and mindfully. You will notice that with the watercolor the edges are not even and there are edges of darker color in the edges of lighter color.
Below is an example and if you would like to watch me create one, I created a meditative spiral during Create with Me! A few weeks ago, and you can watch above to see how, and/or you can watch the whole video on our YouTube channel.
Have an Amazingly Creative Day,