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  • Writer's pictureFarhana Goga

Lockdown Fatigue

Updated: Jul 20, 2020

I write this on Day 115 of lockdown - are you tired yet?

Fatigue is defined as extreme tiredness as a result of mental or physical exertion. Fatigue is something that occurs over a long period of time. We are currently hyper-vigilant and navigating the Pandemic is a mental and physical exertion.

Lockdown across the world and in South Africa was seen as a temporary measure to combat a Pandemic. In South Africa, the purpose was to prepare the healthcare system and try and contain the spread of infections. It was embraced by most citizens in its early stages. But as the economic reality and hardship hit, and the realisation that in a developing country, health care systems would be strained even more so than the developed countries and the Pandemic seems to have no end in sight. Not surprisingly the support and understanding of lockdown and the stamina that is needed is dwindling, and is being replaced by frustration, anger and exhaustion. This, at a time when the infection rates are increasing at an alarming rate, and where the economy has to function, the lockdown regulations, once embraced (for the most part) are now being tested.

This is a normal response. Why?

Below I share some thoughts and ideas to maybe answer the question:

As frustration levels grow, as uncertainty grows, people look for hope, we need hope, we need to see an end in sight as it gives us a sense of purpose and motivation to keep going. When we do not have this, we feel angry, resentful, helpless and hopeless. We lose sight of how we are really part of a whole and that our self-restriction is action.

Add social-isolation, physical distance, the closeness of the Pandemic - most people know someone who has been/is positive, many know of someone who has died. Many have shared the struggles of a funeral during Covid. The need for human connection, for seeing those we love, is a real human need. We are indeed built for connection. Whether you are an extrovert or an introvert, at some point we need connection, we need variety, it keeps us sane - quite literally.

As people, we also do reality testing with each other - we talk about the weather, we share experiences, we ask for advise, we bounce things off each other - these are ways of checking with each other, of making sense of the world, of our experience, or our perceptions. Without that, or when that is mis-matched (when our experience is not validated for example), we feel anxious, isolated, alone, which makes us even more anxious, and disconnected. Our communication is verbal and non-verbal, we rely on layers of cues from those around us. So, at this time, while Zoom and other networking tools exist and are wonderful, we are tired of screens and we miss the cues we rely on. We feel connected and potentially disconnected at the same time.

Further, for many generations living at this time, across the world, there is limited exposure to struggle, the greater whole, a greater purpose, sacrifice. What is being asked of young people today appears as foreign, a violation of rights. And yet, right to life is the basic right of all living beings. What is called for us, now more than ever is to internalise the meaning of self-imposed restrictions.

Add to this mix, the growing reality and awareness, that we do not know when we will be able to see loved ones who don't live with us, or close to us. It leads us to despondency, sadness, and fear, as our thoughts move to what if something happens to them, or even what they may be experiencing day-to-day.

So yes, it makes sense that we are tired - we have lockdown fatigue - we have been called to an action of inaction and it is prolonged, with no sight of change, and we desperately want it to be over, you may feel annoyed, irritated, anxious, frustrated, "fed-up".

So, what can we do? Whenever we try and shift something, we need to apply stabilisation to help our autonomic nervous system, a change of mindset, working with our feelings and action.

  1. Relaxation - down time, as well as meditation, breathing are important to integrate into your life and your routine, and that includes throwing it all away sometimes and "going wild". Create what you would have done, pre-lockdown or as close as you can to it, and bring something new in if you haven't yet.

  2. Join a weekly or monthly meditation group - I run one -WeAddHeart - book via the events page.

  3. Take a day off - yes even if you concerned about finances or have lost your job, you are working hard at finding a new one, so give yourself a day off!

  4. Be aware of your thoughts and question them - Byron Katie (a renowned spiritual teacher) has a great tool for this: is it true? is it really true? how do I react when I have the thought? who would you be without it? And can you turn it around - can you change it in many ways so you can see what it true? e.g. he doesn't understand me can become I don't understand him, I don't understand myself

  5. If you have a teen/young adult around, validate their experience, they are struggling and this is the time when they should be spending less time at home and more time with friends - its their normal developmental age, so go gently with them. Tell them what you expect, but also give them plenty of space

  6. If you have young kids and they are confused as you are at home but not available as you now work from home - let them see what your work is, what you do hidden away from them (even if you make up a meeting)

  7. Have a random dance party

  8. When you used to leave work, you may have had a drive to disconnect and prepare for home - often that's time to unwind, collect your thought, see how you can create that for yourself, with the support of your partner of course (I've found that people living alone do this more naturally, as they don't have immediate demands).

  9. Don't think of the lockdown in days, but think of the day as a new day and decide what you want to focus on - what needs your attention on that day?

  10. Work/life balance is still important, so be conscious in that creation

  11. Bring some fun into the routine - just as you would if you went to work everyday

  12. Get creative - cooking and baking has become the new norm for me, and many others, but have you also tried something you haven't before?

  13. Connect - have tea parties over social media. But have them as you would at home - be engaged, present - not getting on with something else, in your home, with the party on a screen, but connecting from your heart and present, as if they were in your home.

  14. Have date night with your lover - take turns on deciding what to do and preparing it

  15. Have game nights with the kids

  16. Go for a hike

  17. Take some me-time - make it real, conscious, whatever you need

  18. Switch off electronics for a night

  19. If you lucky enough to have friends close by, meet them for a social-distance walk, or a picnic (naturally without violating the regulations set by government)

  20. Have a walking meeting (once again within the regulations)

  21. Join a class online, and establish a routine

  22. Take a challenge e.g. an exercise one, a drawing one etc

  23. Remind yourself daily that your call to action is self-imposed restrictions - and that you are part of a bigger goal

  24. Some days will be harder than others, that's okay! Try and meet your needs on those extra tough days

  25. Do a daily check in with your partner (see my blog post in the couples section for an idea) and another with the kids to see how they all doing and what they may need

  26. If you live alone, do a check in with a friend daily

  27. Check in with those you love, make it a routine - its helpful for them and you

  28. Have a PJ day

  29. Go for a drive and find a place to have a picnic

  30. Live in the moment, the here and now as much as you can focusing on the good, as a bee searches for honey, and mustering the good vibes even if some days that takes more effort

  31. Lie in the garden looking at the clouds

  32. Climb a tree if you have one

  33. Remember each day is new - with no mistakes on it and each moment is new - use them well.

  34. Do NOTHING - binge watch TV, read, lie on the couch, don't check the stats

  35. And last but not least, just be in the feeling, whatever that feeling is, notice it and acknowledge it, and hold it tenderly, as you would if a child shared it with you, validate it, of course we are all feeling as we are - whatever that is! Let it be, and let it go where it needs to go.

  36. If you feel stuck, then seek professional help.

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