There is no doubt, we are living in challenging times, a worrisome mess of threats to everyone's physical and economical well-being. If you find yourself in a state of advanced pandemic fatigue, you are not alone: after months of isolation, mental health providers report vastly increased numbers of depression, anxiety, and exhaustion.
A sense of sanity is the key to holding daily life together, for yourself and others. That doesn't mean adopting a breezy 'don't worry - be happy' approach, but a continuous effort to stay balanced. Here are a few behaviors to avoid or at least become aware of:
- Catastrophizing: People with active minds and a lively imagination are especially good at coming up with the worst possible scenarios and worrying about them. When you find yourself obsessing over disastrous outcomes, remind yourself to return to your actual current situation, which is most likely much less dramatic.
- Paralysis: Many daily activities may seem pointless at the moment, but they can offer a helpful framework. Neglecting the daily maintenance of your small business, e.g. by not returning calls or letting your email inbox fill up, will make it much harder to reengage later. Pick at least one or two regular activities to continue every day and create the expectation that you will do them at a certain time of day.
- Excess activity: Many of my clients seem to be jumping from one thing to another. As I recently wrote, they are trying to find structure in the chaos, but being surrounded by half-finished projects and ideas can be a source of needless guilt and stress. Creativity is good, but check with yourself and others in your household before you jump into further projects that consume energy, space and money.
- Hold on to daily routines. Getting enough sleep, food and exercise is a crucial part of self-care. Even if business is slow, check messages and spend time engaging with other professionals. 'Showing up' in some form for yourself and others every day is an important routine to maintain.
- Limit your news consumption. You don't need the latest health statistics to understand what's going on. Just because news are available 24/7 doesn't mean we have to consume and react to the coverage all the time. Deliberately turn off all screen activities for a few hours every day or dedicate a single device to news coverage.
- Look for safe social occasions. Reach out to meet other people outdoors. A shared walk or a conversation at a picnic table can provide a much-needed boost. Look for new ideas in events calendars to explore outdoor happenings. Call someone you haven't seen for a while.
Talk to someone:
You can't wish anxiety and depression away. If you get little done and can't seem to function in daily life, reach out to someone who will listen and understand. Most mental health professionals are now offering virtual contact options, and all calls are confidential.
Working with a coach can help you explore possible actions to take now. If you’re struggling to keep up your productivity in these strange times, don’t hesitate to reach out and ask for help! I am offering once-a-month check-ins for those on a tight budget.