When the pandemic first hit Australia, no one expected that we’d still be being thrust in and out of lockdowns over 18 months later. Just as we thought we may have been returning to some version of ‘normal’ life, many parts of the country have been hit with more outbreaks, leading to extended lockdowns in some states, and repeated lockdowns in others.
By this stage, many of us will be feeling the ongoing effects of ‘lockdown fatigue’ – a state of exhaustion caused by the long-term effects of COVID-19 and the changes it has caused to every aspect of our lives. It’s the culmination of our fear, anger, sadness and anxiety caused by this perpetual state of uncertainty.
Some of the symptoms of lockdown fatigue that you may be experiencing include:
- short temper with outbursts of frustration, anger and irritability
- sadness, depression and negative thoughts
- 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
- sleep disturbance
- exhaustion throughout the day
- difficulty in maintaining a routine.
Although it may feel hopeless at times, there are some things you can do to help alleviate these feelings and manage your fatigue.
Recognise, acknowledge and be kind
It is important to recognise that you may not be coping with the situation as well as you thought. And that’s ok! Acknowledging your feelings is the first step in being able to then manage those feelings. Be kind to yourself, and work on accepting your situation. Accept that you may be less productive, less motivated, and more irritable than usual, and that life may not return to ‘normal’ for a while.
Try to create (and stick to) a routine
It’s common to feel tired and unmotivated when you’re not in your usual schedule, so it’s important to create a routine for your sleep, meals, work, rest and exercise – in essence, the things you CAN control. If work is causing particular stress in your life, having a routine can help you to structure your day in a way that allows you to leave that stress at your workplace, instead of bringing it home. Having a solid routine can help us feel more in control when everything else feels out of control.
Connect with family, friends and colleagues
Humans are social beings, so one of the hardest impacts of the lockdowns and restrictions for you may be the limits on your social contact with people. If this is the case, make the most of technology, whether it be on the phone or computer, to speak to and/or see the important people in your life on a regular basis. Make the most of any opportunities to communicate, such as chatting over the back fence or balcony with a neighbour, or asking the delivery person how they are as they deliver a parcel.
Most importantly, seek additional support if you feel that you are struggling with lockdown fatigue, or with coping with any aspect of COVID-19.