If you’ve been feeling stressed, overwhelmed, tired, anxious, restless—or all of the above, you’re not alone.
Most of us have been struggling with these feelings since the few first days of lockdown. COVID-19 has, without a doubt, turned all of our lives upside down. Canadians have lost their jobs, their loved ones, and millions more are missing out on special occasions, holidays, and some of life’s most precious moments.
We’re also incredibly limited to which activities we can do outside of shopping for necessities. When we do get to leave our houses, we wear masks and follow the social distancing guidelines.
To make matters worse, there are still so many questions left unanswered. For example, when will this all be over?
If simply reading this fills you with dread, making you want to just curl up in a ball and sleep or cry, or both—you’re probably experiencing quarantine fatigue.
What Exactly is Quarantine Fatigue?
The definition of quarantine fatigue varies from person to person. To loosely define quarantine fatigue, let’s just say it’s when you’ve essentially had enough. Of lockdown, of COVID, of sadness—all of it.
Quarantine fatigue is a phenomenon that can manifest physically, emotionally, and mentally. Additionally, much of it stems from the isolation that this pandemic has bestowed upon us. Not only are we isolated from our friends and family, but we’re isolated from our pre-COVID lives.
Even the “new normal” feels morbid and almost post-apocalyptic.
Here are the “quarantine fatigue” symptoms that most people are experiencing right now:
- Low to intense feelings of fatigue and energy loss
- Low to intense feelings of irritability and crankiness
- Anxiety and depression
- Feelings of apathy and a general loss of motivation
- Insomnia, disturbed sleep, or oversleeping
- Unstable emotions
- Feelings of despair, hopelessness, and intense loneliness
- Feeling disconnected from everyone and everything around you
- Change in appetite; no appetite, or overeating
- A lack of self-care or routine (brushing teeth, showering, etc.)
- Racing thoughts and interpersonal conflict
Everyone responds differently to quarantine fatigue. You may even find yourself responding differently every so often. You could be up and running today and then not wanting to get out of bed for several days.
The most important thing to remember is that it’s okay to feel all of the above.
Why You're Experiencing Quarantine Fatigue
We’re social animals that thrive on the human connection. We’re built to interact, create, and maintain relationships. In essence, isolation is a slow and silent killer, which explains why we feel this way.
Of course, it also doesn’t help to know that millions of people worldwide have died helplessly at the hands of an infectious and out of control disease.
On both a psychological and physical level, long-lasting and loving relationships are crucial to a healthy life. Without a healthy amount of social interaction, we feel as if we lack a support system, and we’re basically left to contend with our own thoughts.
Our natural responses to this fatigue are also limited, as many of us would depend on our support system, and our various coping mechanisms. These limitations have a compounding effect on what we’re already feeling, leaving us to dwell, ruminate, brood, and drown in our negative feelings.
We also begin the endless spiral of negative self-talk, which is difficult to break away from. Our thoughts and behaviors are intrinsically connected, and when we throw the pandemic’s uncertainty into the mix, we become exhausted.
Essentially, you’re experiencing quarantine fatigue because of the limitations placed on what you can and can’t do, leaving you isolated from your support system.
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Healthy Ways to Cope With Quarantine Fatigue
We don’t know when life will return to normal. We know that if we don’t acknowledge and combat the signs and symptoms of quarantine fatigue, things will only worsen.
So, if you’re experiencing quarantine fatigue, here are some healthy ways to cope:
Know There's Nothing "Wrong" With You
Remember, it’s okay that you’re feeling this way. It’s okay if you haven’t brushed your hair in days, and it’s okay if you’re extremely frustrated with life right now.
It’s important to acknowledge that this isn’t your fault—and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with you. Everyone is struggling right now, whether it be mentally, emotionally, and even financially. This entire situation is unfair and you have every right to get mad, sad, anxious, and all the other emotions you’re feeling right now.
It’s perfectly normal to feel the symptoms of quarantine fatigue right now. If you didn’t feel this way, then maybe it would be time to worry.
Take a Break From Social Media
Many couples have differing views about how to handle the pandemic. For example, you may feel more cautious about going out and socializing. Your partner, on the other hand, might not think COVID-19 is that big of a deal.
Of course, everyone’s risk tolerance is different. But moving beyond risk tolerance, the pandemic has heightened nearly every emotion. We’re scared, angry, confused, and bored. We don’t necessarily know all the right things to do. But when you and your partner don’t see eye-to-eye, this discrepancy can exacerbate these complicated emotions.
Be Present and Mindful
It’s hard, but try not to let your mind wander. Don’t focus on the things you didn’t get around to doing or the things you still need to get done. Whatever it is that you’re doing at the moment, give your full concentration.
Being present and mindful also means keeping distracting at bay. This includes compulsively checking your social media. You don’t have to be in the moment every second of every day, but it’s important to train your mind.
Being mindful means checking in with yourself and acknowledging how you feel and what you can control. It’s not easy, but it’s a good idea to start by making a mental list of the things you’re grateful for when you feel yourself spiraling. It’s a little trick that’ll help you stay positive and happy.
Create a Simple Routine
If you’re like the rest of us, your routine has gone to waste. There is no time, and there are no rules—until now.
It’s easy to fall into the “broken routine” habit and incredibly difficult to rewire yourself for better habits. But having a simple daily routine can give you a purpose and help gain back some control over your life.
Start small by setting a bedtime and a time to wake up. Make your bed each morning, wash your face, brush your teeth, maybe start flossing, and make yourself a good breakfast. Don’t forget to incorporate some exercise, no matter how low-impact it may be.
Getting back into a routine will stave off your quarantine fatigue and give your immune system a boost.
Step Up the Self Care
Self-care comes in many sizes, shapes, and forms. Whatever it is that makes you feel better about life, whether it’s planting an herb garden or taking a bubble bath—do it and do it often!
Now is a better time than ever to indulge yourself and take up a new hobby. There are plenty of free courses you can find online, so take advantage of this time to engage your mind and learn something new.
Connect With Your Support System
You may not be able to physically see your friends and family, but that doesn’t mean they’re not there. Make time to check in with your loved ones at least once a week. Challenge yourselves to talk about anything but COVID and how unfair it all is.
It is okay to talk about how you’re feeling, however. This is what your support system is for, so be there for one another.
Identify and Reroute Negative Self Talk
We’ve already told you to be mindful, but it bears repeating. Negative self-talk can spiral out of control and stop you from embracing the day. One way to practice your mindfulness is by identifying your triggers and catching the negative self-talk before it starts.
Once you hear yourself saying something negative, yell (internally, of course) a keyword or phrase that will shut it down. For example, you start telling yourself you’re not good enough or you’re lazy. That’s the moment to yell, “intrusive thought!” or “shut it down,” followed by positive self-talk and addressing why you’re feeling this way.
Remember, This Won't Last Forever
We understand how hard this is because we’re all going through it. The important thing to realize is that life won’t be like this forever. The virus will subside eventually, and with it, the quarantine fatigue.
In the meantime, we’re here for you. Reach out to us and schedule an online appointment today.