“I feel tired”, “I now take frequent naps”, “My eyes and head hurt”, “I just can’t concentrate”.
If these statements resonate with you, then you may be experiencing the lockdown fatigue.
Lockdown fatigue, as the name suggests, is a condition that causes mental and physical tiredness during the period of staying indoor and ensuring social distancing. One would think that freed from work, commute, commitments to meet other people and doing all those errands that are no longer feasible, people must feel energetic. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Individuals have reported a change in their sleep schedule – mostly a disturbed change. Some are going off to bed earlier than usual, others stay up as owls all night, and a few even take erratic naps. There is a certain form of grogginess – a phase in between sleep and wakefulness when an individual doesn’t feel fully awake. People who are fatigued by the lockdown feel drowsy, have trouble thinking clearly and can be disorientated, especially after waking up from sleep or a nap. This is the very basic sign of the lockdown fatigue.
Are You Fatigued by Lockdown?
More often than not, the fatigue brought over by the lockdown can significantly impact personal, interpersonal and professional areas. There is a massive amount of uncertainty that most people are dealing with in these three domains. Not only does this uncertainty create panic and anxiety but also makes people feel like they have a lot of time and not a definite goal. So, what does the impact look like?
1. Vague Self-Care – Rest, Rest, Rest! We have been told giving ourselves a break and slowing down are keys to self-care. But what if life itself has slowed down? The initial phase of lockdown brought a change in pace; many of us had the time to do all that we had never found time for. But what exactly is self-care? Can self-care become tiring too?
2. Snapping – Those in a close proximity – parents, siblings, friends, neighbors – could be facing an instant brunt of this, due to constant irritability. Emotional disconnect in personal spheres might impact overall interpersonal relationships. Couples who are in a relationship or are married, tend to fight more if one partner is feeling tired and drained and unwilling to put effort into the relationship.
3. Procrastination and Lethargy – Professionals may struggle with finishing daily tasks in the time required otherwise, there could be delays in achieving set goals or targets, and going back to workspaces may appear painful.
Carve Your Way Out
1 Pick ‘One Day At A Time’ Mantra
Not taking the pressure of doing something worthwhile and just living in the present during this time of uncertainty is imperative. Setting realistic expectations and goals to begin with is something that helps a person feel motivated and productive. Catastrophizing (or expecting things to go wrong) generally impacts the overall mental health and must be taken care of. Being mindful is the only way to believe in this mantra. It’s more about actively staying in the present, focusing less on the negative or the unsolvable bits in order to reduce the laid back attitude and mental chatter. Savoring or using thoughts and actions to increase the intensity, duration and appreciation of positive experiences and emotions can be really helpful.
2. Combat Procrastination
Procrastination can be born out of fatigue. Researchers suggest that fear and demotivation are the primary factors for procrastination. Fear could be of failure, rejection, not being able to live up to one’s or other’s expectations, etc. Demotivation, on the other hand, is due to umteen emotional, social, interpersonal and professional reasons. Some effective ways of dealing with the two are:
- Plan a Schedule or To-Do List: It is good to have our tasks or plans before us on a daily or weekly basis. Until we don’t know the tasks and their deadlines well, we might not acknowledge its severity. Planning reduces the chances of procrastination and enhances positive emotions when tasks are accomplished, encouraging us to keep going.
- Break a task into small, manageable segments: Sometimes the nature and intensity of a bigger task may appear overwhelming, triggering avoidance. Breaking tasks into smaller parts, setting buffer time in between two parts of a task, taking sufficient breaks and setting reminders to complete a designated task can help us in finishing bigger tasks without delays. As you achieve the smaller goals, you feel motivated to take the next step. As you proceed, you realise the bigger task is soon to be accomplished!
- Recognize the Onset of Procrastination and Eliminate Distractions: Create a focused environment that stimulates positive energy. This could include keeping your cell phone or a book that has had you engrossed aside while working. Sit on your desk or an area in your room away from distractions, such as the television set, while working on your tasks. Have you meal or break hours planned. You can put stick-posts with your goals in front of you that can serve as a reminder.
- Use Token Economy: A token economy is a form of behavior modification designed to increase desirable behavior and decrease undesirable behavior with the use of tokens. Individuals receive tokens immediately after displaying desirable behavior. For example, after you have sat for an hour and finished a particular task, reward yourself with your favourite dish cooked or just grab a chocolate; watch an episode of a series you have been following or a chapter of a book you have been reading. Simple still, talk to a friend or listen to a song. Remember, these are rewards for your accomplishments. Have them timed and don’t give yourself away into them. Let these rewards motivate you to finish doing tasks. Be consistent with the change and note down it’s positive impacts.
3. Go inside, If You Cannot Go Outside
- In other words, reflect on your own mood, behaviour, patterns and emotions. Introspect the how, when, what and why’s in order to have a definite answer and trace the origin of feeling a particular way. Try and be more observant about your mood and convey it to your loved ones. Try and become a bit considerate of your near and dear ones’ emotions and spend some time with them in person or through video calls.
- It takes 21 days to form a habit, so take up one good habit – be it working on your resilience, concentration, sleeping pattern, etc – and see if you are consistent with it.
- Taking up something light or a hobby is also a good idea to make your mind involve in the things that you feel good doing.
- Addressing any intense emotion, be it anxiety, stress, depression, etc., and taking the help of a professional counsellor or psychologist would also help a great deal.
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