That place beyond lockdown fatigue
That place beyond lockdown fatigue
The phrase ‘lockdown fatigue’ has been one of those new words or phrases that have become commonplace in our vernacular following the outbreak and spread of COVID-19. Along with language like primary close contact, self-isolation and travel bubble, lockdown fatigue is one phrase I’m sure we are all sick of. With the current stay at home orders in place in New South Wales, Victoria and South Australia and with so many people spending more time with very few, if any, people around them this is an experience that many millions of people in Australia are experiencing.
So, what is lockdown fatigue?
Lockdown fatigue is considered to be a state of exhaustion cause by the long-term effects of living with COVID-19 in our lives. It comes from experiencing this state over a prolonged period of time, whilst we have had to come so terms with the virus affecting not only our physical health, but our capacity to earn money, see loved ones and travel. The impact on our personal and collective freedom is particularly challenging (especially in light of the protests across Australia this weekend).
What are the causes?
Largely, the cumulative effect of the ongoing unknowns related to, and the restrictions imposed by COVID-19. The quarantines, isolations, lockdowns, social and physical distancing, the restrictions, the border closures, mask-wearing and non-existent international travel has all had its impact on us all. And for a great many people the forced inability to work, loss of income and possible unemployment only adds to the burden.
Understanding lockdown fatigue:
- Not being able to do what you want to
- Being cooped up
- Having to home school children while trying to work from home
- Sick of being cautious
- Being cut-off from normal social interaction
- Feeling uncertain and anxious about employment / financial situations
- Not seeing an end to the changes
- Worry about what the world will look like after…will it ever get back to ‘normal’
- Hearing about some people ‘not doing the right thing’
- The inconsistent messages given by leaders and politicians / the politicisation of the pandemic
- Being bombarded by COVID-19 information
What lockdown fatigue might feel like:
- Short temper with outbursts of frustration, anger and irritability
- Anxiety and fear
- Physical exhaustion and burnout
- Difficulty focusing, prioritising, problem-solving and making decisions
- Lack of motivation and reduced interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Difficulty maintaining a routine
- Behavioural changes such as over/under eating, increased reliance on alcohol, cigarettes or drugs
- Sleep disturbance
- Negative thoughts looping around like ‘I’m over this’, ‘I can’t see an end to it all’, ‘I’m so sick and tired of this’
- Exhaustion lasting throughout the day
I’ve seen this post going a bit viral on socials this week from @donnaashworthwordy and it has evidently stuck a chord with so many people this week. Certainly, the feel I have from the clients that I have spent time with consistently through the pandemic is currently something very akin to this. Whilst I might be based in Melbourne, and the significant proportion of the people I work with are in that city currently navigating the sheer exhaustion of their 5th strict lockdown, I also work with people all over the world – other states and territories in Australia, the UK, Shanghai, Bali, NZ, Afghanistan and the Netherlands – this is not a state of being reserved only for Melburnians. We are all struggling with the ongoing, gnawing uncertainty and unendingness of this pandemic.
How to navigate lockdown fatigue:
All the things that we were encouraging people to do at the start of lockdown last year we are still advocating:
- Eat sensibly
- Get regular exercise and keep active
- Maintain good sleep hygiene, managing screen-time as much as possible
- Drink plenty of water, keeping caffeine and alcohol intake in check
In terms of protective psychological considerations though, it’s important that you remind yourself (often) that it’s ok if you’re finding it hard right now, recognise that whilst much of what we are navigating is very unusual, it is completely reasonable to feel that your reserves, usual strategies and coping mechanisms are totally stretched and sometimes even failing. Above all, approach this whole messy time with kindness and a sense of compassion towards yourself and others. We are all doing the best we can right now.
Links to a few reads / resources:
If you need someone to talk to about how you’re navigating COVID-19, we have a team of therapists at Thea Baker Wellbeing available – please reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org / 03 9077 8194.