Coping With COVID Fatigue
This is a difficult time for many people. Everyone wants life to go back to "normal". I hear this all around me in Chicago and rural areas of Michigan and Indiana. We are tired of being cooped up, we are tired of being fearful, we are tired of being told what to do, and who we can do it with. It is normal to be fed up with these limitations. However, this can lead some people to be careless. With cases spiking again in cities and rural areas as predicted, we need to utilize ways to minimize COVID fatigue in healthy ways.
We are all capable of helping ourselves. This is a list of ways to do that:
Refresh your routine. Whether you are working or not, look at your routine each day and see what needs to be refreshed. Are your basic needs being met such as sleep and water? Are you spending too much time doing one thing? Are you working on your goals? Even in the current situation, what can you do to work on your goals?
Declutter and clean your space. A decluttered and clean space helps keep your mind from being scattered and overwhelmed.
Notice yourself breathing. This is the practice of meditation. Set aside 5 minutes each morning for this to increase feelings of calm. You can use guided meditation apps such as Calm or Headspace.
Exercise. Move your body, sweat out toxins, and sweat out stress. This can include any form of movement that will get you sweating such as yoga, jogging, biking, dancing, chopping wood, walking, HIIT training, stair climbing, etc.
Get outside. Fresh air plus the sight and smells of nature enhance your sense of wellbeing. Go for a walk on a tree lined street or head to your closest park.
Talk about your feelings. This is essential. Make sure it is the right time and space for it but do it. Make sure it is with someone who is able to hold space for you and listen to you.
Remind yourself that you are doing the best that you can. There is a lot of uncertainty right now. All you can do is your best. Remind yourself of this often.
Be grateful for what you have. Your time is temporary here. Focus on the fact that you are alive and breathing. As long as you are alive, you can create ideas, moments, and connection. Appreciate that gift, even if it feels limited right now.
Get creative and play. Begin a side project or new hobby that feeds your spirit. Some examples include dancing, drawing, painting, building, pottery, renovating, or other crafts. Ask the inner child within you what brings you joy and what he/she would like to do. Honor what they want and carve out time each week to play. Especially for all the parents out there who usually do not make time for themselves. Your play time matters too!
Belly breathe. We typically grow up to be chest breathers. Belly breathing can slow heart rate and stabilize blood pressure more effectively than chest breathing. Fill up your belly with air as you inhale and then release it all with each exhale. Here is a sample belly breathing exercise: inhale for five seconds, hold for four seconds, and exhale for five seconds.
Avoid triggers of anxiety or stress. Set boundaries with yourself. If this means turning off social media, youtube, and the news, then do that. If it means reading your news because it is less triggering than watching your news, then do that. If it means avoiding certain people or situations, then do that. Do what is best for you and your mental health right now. This is called creating boundaries.
Focus on what you can control. Your diet, mindset, physical activity, media consumption, hobbies, self care, sleep, connection with friends and family, social distancing, wearing a mask, and personal hygiene are all in your control. Focus on what you can control.
Get together with positive people. Whether in person or virtually, continue connecting with people who make you feel good. If you look around and realize that you are surrounded with negative people, then it is time to make new friends or join a new community. People who make you feel good are essential to your wellbeing.
Reduce alcohol and sugar. We all know that these feel good in the moment but these are both depressants and weaken the immune system. Sugar includes soda, candy, ice cream, baked sweets, and other processed foods with added sugar. Choose healthier alternatives that do not contain sugar in the ingredient lists. Yes, read ingredient lists. Know what you are consuming. What you consume impacts your mood. To decompress (for those legally old enough), consider replacing alcohol with a 1:1 THC:CBD edible from cannabis dispensaries and always start small. Cannabis is anti-inflammatory and can help reduce anxiety when done in low doses and with the right blend of THC. Everyone is different though. Learn what works for you and your limits.
Notice your self talk. Is your self talk supportive, positive, and motivating or is it negative, shaming, and cynical? Practice noticing your self talk and where it comes from. Our self talk usually comes from our family and the people around us. Practice feeding yourself positive self talk daily. If not you, then who? For example, "I am strong. I am safe. I am capable of hard things. I love myself. I can do this."
Set an example and be kind. Avoid shaming or blaming others. Do your part by wearing a mask when you can not social distance, wash your hands frequently with hot soapy water, and be kind to every person you meet. Each person is struggling with different things. Be kind.
Journal. Write out your feelings and experiences in a personal journal or notebook. This can relieve stress, organize thoughts, and enhance brain function.
Resolve resentment and/or trauma. Trauma and resentment can cloud judgement, make us reactive, make us fearful, and cause physical illness in the body. Resolve trauma by trying various techniques with certified professionals. Techniques to resolve resentment and/or trauma include: biofeedback, hypnotherapy, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR), Psilocybin therapy, Ketamine therapy, MDMA therapy, LSD therapy, breathwork, or a Ayuaschua ceremony.
Eat vegetables. Vegetables help us build immunity, enhance energy, and reduce depression and anxiety. Eat them with every meal.
Use this list to support yourself and your family with COVID fatigue. We know that this new "normal" is very different and our experiences are very different depending on where we live. However, it is important to take care of our minds, bodies, and spirits as this continues. We must be personally responsible for our health and be mindful of those whose immune systems are not as strong. Weakened immune systems are created over time from multiple factors such as: unexpressed emotions, trauma, grief, chronic stress, vitamin deficiencies from processed and fast foods, alcohol, sugar, lack of grounding with the earth, infections, food intolerances, dehydration, and lack of sleep. This holistic understanding that all these factors are at play has not been taught to us collectively and must be addressed for a healthier future. In the mean time, the faster we reduce the cases, the faster we can get back to the things we are missing. I know this year is tough but so are we. Together, we can get through this.