Finding it difficult to get out of bed in the mornings? Finding it difficult to fall asleep at night? Doesn’t really make sense, does it? We feel so tired yet when our heads hit the pillow anxiety switches on like a light! In light of our environment, all this does make sense. We are starting to experience the effects of the heavy burden of Lockdown, the responsibility we have for our own and others health, and the bad news we see when we switch on media outlets. Our exhaustion is becoming debilitating, because we have tried to overcome so many challenges for so long, and still there is no end in sight. In truth, a lot of our symptoms are similar to those of depression, and in some, it may lead to a full clinical depression.
Remember when our president said Lockdown for three weeks? Well, that was around a third of a year ago! Our anxiety is brought about by stressors including working from home, financial, unemployment, managing children and homework, worrying about parents and neighbours. Usually meeting with friends helps lighten our stress, but in social isolation, our stress loads increase dramatically instead of being shared. Our stress is wearing us down.
What does this result in? We snap at our loved ones, we become forgetful, we cannot sleep yet we are exhausted all the time. Small tasks that were easily manageable become too big to contemplate.
“A normal academic year or workweek has breaks built-in that allows us to recharge,” says Nonhlanhla Dube of Boston City Campus. “Unfortunately with this lockdown we have had no break from the pandemic, with none in sight, and we have not been able to rest and recharge”.
“Quarantine fatigue is being absolutely done with the isolation, the lack of connection, lack of routine, and loss of the sense of freedom to go about life in some pre-quarantine way that feels unrestricted; its being emotionally exhausted and depleted from experiencing the same day, every day.” (Jennifer Musselman,)
Nonhlanhla explains why we feel so low. “How do we punish those convicted of crimes? We isolate them from society, from their friends and family. While we remain grateful for what we have, we cannot diminish the severity of isolation as ‘punishing’. So many studies on ageing, mental health and physical health point to close relationships as an important factor in sustaining good levels of emotional and physical security. Yes, our lockdown is designed to save lives, but we suffer just the same”.
Other symptoms aside from sleep disturbance are drinking in excess, eating less or more, withdrawing, not only from family but even from people texting you, and an inability to focus on daily or work activities.
Nonhlanhla mentions her top 10 tips to combat quarantine fatigue:
- Watch how you speak to your inner self. Find positive mantras and say them out loud, stop all self-criticism.
- Create routine and structure in your day, set an alarm and get up out of bed when it rings.
- Get outdoors.
- Make ‘phone-dates’ with your friends. Reschedule your regular coffees, including with colleagues that you used to bump at coffee time in the kitchen.
- Eat healthy foods, at regular mealtimes. Learn to work at the laptop or watch TV without snacking.
- Don’t think about what you had expected from the year, rather focus on how you have to amend your goals and what you have to do to achieve them.
- If you have been retrenched, jump into reskilling as soon as possible. Make networking and job searching for your new job.
- Tale LONG breaks from social media.
- Grow something. Get seeds and create a vegetable or herb garden, outdoors or on your windowsill.
- Don’t lose hope. We are evolving and adapting, stay along for the ride and work towards positive outcomes.