Easy tips on how to beat pandemic exhaustion, fatigue, and the lack of routine.

The year is 2021, it is the end of May, and it almost feels like waking up from a long dream, but not feeling rested at all.

As COVID-19 changed the world and is prolonging much longer than we initially thought, you might find yourself asking "How much longer?"

As some of us hang onto the thought of going back to our old "normal" lives, unfortunately the two dancers in this post-pandemic struggle are exhaustion and fatigue.

So, what is this exhaustion that we are feeling and how can we overcome the pandemic routine?

Why the new "normal" is more exhausting.

With the new year and new lockdowns, the pandemic has brought many new routines into our lives, but at the same time destroyed some old ones. Gone are the days when you wake up at 6am, make yourself a coffee, shower, and drive to work. Even now the idea of a spontaneous evening get-together might make you feel uncomfortable, but why?

Just like the new facemask regulations that many places introduced, there were (in my opinion) many more smaller changes that occured in our daily lives. Things we didn't seem to notice on a "normal day" like our mental health, some alone-time, physical morning workout rountines, along with social interactions from our friends and family, they all require more energy nowadays. 

Normally when we talk about exhaustion it's usually in connection to the physical aspect, but as the COVID-19 pandemic has shown us, it can also fully drain our mental strength. If it hasn't occurred to you yet, life has changed, and so have many of our daily habits. Meetings are now calls where we dread having our camera on, most of us have watched more Netflix or even subscribed to Disney + , many people are out of work, and even more have developed anxiety about finding a job.

As simple, daily tasks become harder and morning routines seem to disappear, emotional states can run wild and turn into an ongoing circle, creating a loop of fatigue.

"You're used to waking up in the morning, following the same routine, having breakfast, meeting a friend... it's just that unpredictability (now) which is the largest fear..."
Yahya Miah, Sky News

The different types of fatigue and how to combat them.

Physical and mental fatigue.

What is it:

Multitasking has been around since the buisness world was invented, but now between meetings and Zoom calls and even online university for many, some may find it hard to keep focused. Additionally, many people are experiencing a prolonged lack of sleep and the inability to concentate, with ideas and creativity flowing but no motivation to start any of those special projects.

What to do about it:

For me, I had to tear down my quarantine sleep schedule and rebuild a new one from scratch. Slowly going to sleep 30 minutes earlier every night helped reset my rhythm and increase my productivity. Sitting at the computer from 9-to-5 never seemed to be productive either, but going for walks and unwinding for 5-15 minutes has always made me come back and be productive. So go on, go walk in the fresh air outside and turn your brain back on, as Jaime Zuckerman, Ardmore-based clinical psychologist, explains:

“Walking activates the positive chemicals in our brain. And when you return back to your task, you will feel better. The fog will be lifted, and you will be better able to focus.”
Jaime Zuckerman, Ardmore-based clinical psychologist

Additionally, try to conserve as much energy as possible throughout the day. If you know you have to clean your apartment or mow the lawn, or even something as simple as showering, try to break it into smaller tasks. 

Social fatigue and the in's and outs

What is it:

Although we have been separated from our friends, families, and co-workers by strict lockdown measures, most of us will always be social animals. As media like TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, and even LinkedIn show us day after day, people all around us are celebrating their achievements and sharing their new favorite recipes just like in the first lockdown with the bananabread frenzy. But how much is too much? Now more than ever we are presuring ourselves to overperform and stay in contact with friends over Facetime and video calls, all while consuming upsetting and saddening news from our TVs.

What to do about it:

Take a step back and ditch the media. When you're constantly bombarded with news stories about the Coronavirus and increasing mortality, eventually you get desensitized.

Slowly reintegrate into your social circles if you can, while abiding by CDC guidelines. Like working out a muscle after taking months off out of the gym, social activities might be hard at first, but the more you do it, the easier it becomes.

Reintegration anxiety, or anxiety returning to pre-pandemic activities such as going into public places or returning to the office, is natural...It just means that we have not done something for a while and have to get used to it again.
Northwestern Medicine Psychologist Christina L. Boisseau, PhD

Remember, slow progress is still progress and it's okay to not be used to the sudden change in social rules like meeting in public again.

Emotional fatigue and how to feel more free:

What is it:

We all have it every once in a while, that thought that keeps us up late at night but that we can never figure out. More now than ever, the younger population is worried, according to a report conducted by Unicef. In general, people feel stuck even inside their own heads, sometimes making it hard to get out of bed. As a result, you don't want to talk to anyone or even do anything.

What to do about it:

Take a step back and talk to yourself. What do you feel like you can control today? Are your goals too high or too unreasonable?

Stop waiting to feel better and start with a small "happy" list. Take small steps and do what you need to do for you. If you drink coffee, start making yourself a cup every morning again. If your weight and quaratine diet have made you want to get fit again, text a friend and see if they want to go for a walk. Next week you may find yourself in the gym together. If a task seems too big, rest and revisit it when you have energy. Checking small things off of your list will result in a sense of accomplishment, and in return will allow you to rest more in your off hours.

Although you may not be able to have power over your environment, strive to feel as if you have complete control over your own body.

I don´t have an exact formula. The only thing is that I try not to stress, (try to) avoid panic, and continue my normal routine. In the end, I told myself that stress does more damage than the virus itself.
James, 22 years, Haití

New rountines and personal remedies for the future.

Right now, most of us are in some state of exhaustion or fatigue, and if you're not, then there is a high likelyhood that someone you know is. As the uncertainty of the future looms over the world, it affects different age groups in different ways.

For younger adults, not attending school in person and comparing themselves to others over social media have increased anxiety and depression, as well as resulted in weight gain. To combat this, socialization can be the key to finding the way out of the tunnel and uniting. For older adults, try to stay connected to family more and soak up the Vitamin D outside in the sun. Additionally, more and more of our seniors don't know how to use devices like iPhones and have become lost in the sea of news that has been generated in the recent months, so consider switching to tablets from Oscar Senior as they are sure to help with staying more connected.

In general, aim to not have high expectations over goals that aren't yours. If you feel stuck, start by taking small steps towards your goals and say "One more...". Create a small workout routine that only takes 5 minutes, and in time do it 3 days a week. For your social circles, remember that it's okay to feel anxious and not ready to be in a large public setting yet. Set boundaries that make you feel in control.

Remember, reclaim your spontaneity and I will leave you with what I have written on my whiteboard that is hanging in my own home:

Create a  new routine.

Set boundaries that make you feel in control.

Take time to relax at least once per day.

Try to do or learn one new thing per week.

Spencer Tahil - Chief Marketing Officer of Oscar Senior

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