During these unprecedented times, many Americans are experiencing COVID-19 “burnout”. Unfortunately the virus cases continue to rise across the majority of the country and it is taking its toll on many. We have been enduring 9 months of shutdowns, quarantines, social distancing, hybrid-schedules, working from home, and E-learning. Some are working to find the balance between their makeshift home offices and living spaces. While others, such as our amazing essential workers, continue to put their lives at risk for the sake of helping others.
Awareness is key. It is important to be able to recognize the signs of burnout. Having awareness equips you with a perspective to be able to identify if there is too much stress in your life. The symptoms can present themselves similar to depression: ranging from changes in sleep patterns, both oversleeping and not getting enough sleep, lack of energy, lack of motivation, changes in appetite, trouble concentrating, engaging in unhealthy coping skills such as drinking excessively, or physical/emotional exhaustion.
So…now what? Well, if you do notice that you or a loved one is experiencing Covid “burnout” the good news is that there are things that can be done to fight against these feelings.
- Exercise, exercise, exercise. It is one of the most important things you can do for yourself. Not only does it release endorphins but it also gets rid of some built up tension and stress. Even going for a short walk can reap rewards. It is a fantastic way to practice self care.
- Meditation or Relaxation – There are several free apps you can download to listen to guided meditations as well as mindfulness apps. Guided meditations for stress relief often consists of a pleasant, soothing recorded meditation geared towards helping the listener let go of anxieties and tensions as they relax. There are typically calming sounds incorporated such as comforting melodies or nature sounds. There will be positive visualizations meant to calm the mind and body.
- Quality sleep matters! People across the country are experiencing sleep issues thanks to the extra stress of this pandemic. Some people may be getting less sleep, or simply lower quality of sleep. If you’re struggling to get good quality sleep, try sticking to a bedtime routine. Perhaps you would like a warm cup of non caffeinated tea and a hot shower every night before bed. It is helpful to put the electronics away so you aren’t tempted to get them out and start scrolling. You can even play bedtime books or podcasts in preparation of sleep. Try your best to avoid caffeine and alcohol later in the day as both can interfere with your sleep cycle.
- You may be feeling like things are spinning out of control so the key is to focus on your circle of control. What are the things that you can control? These are the things that deserve your attention. Your thoughts have power so what you choose to focus your thoughts on is directly related to how you feel. So if you want to change your mood, take a look at your thoughts and activities. They are all connected
- Limit media to reduce anxiety – An excess of news and visual images about a traumatic event are disturbing and unhealthy, so try to limit COVID-19 media exposure to no more than twice a day. Perhaps you check for an update in the morning and at night. This will keep you informed without becoming emotionally flooded.
- Remember that burnout can happen to anyone, anytime. Most of us have numerous responsibilities at home and work that can create stress even in normal times so give yourself the grace that the exhaustion you are possibly feeling is completely understandable. Each new day will provide us with a new opportunity to utilize some of these healthy coping skills to work toward a healthier life. We want to focus on the growth we make. It is progress, not perfection that we are striving for.