Lockdown Fatigue

lockdown fatigue –

Is it a ‘thing’?

For the last month or so, I have found myself feeling demotivated, tired for no reason, and at times very emotional despite not feeling sad.  I pondered on why I felt this way, did I need to take some leave, as it was not in my usual character. I heard for the slightly exaggerated 10000th time the phrase thrown about “Lockdown Fatigue”.  I thought that it might be worth exploring this as I found myself procrastinating by spraying the weeds in my garden.

The organization Beyond Blue describes lockdown fatigue as a feeling of being demotivated, sluggish or exhausted despite potentially having more downtime due to a disrupted routine. It’s no surprise this term is gaining popularity: it’s important to know that it’s a normal experience felt by many people.

Beyond Blue go on to suggest that it not healthy to compare your own productivity to someone else’s and dwell on a sense of ‘underachievement’.  Check out their tips and helpful advice on their website listed in the more information section at the end of this blog post.

Peter Kinselley, from Cardinus illustrates that in a very short time-frame, we have become restricted in what we can do and our routines (habits) have been broken. In addition to this, we have the added stress of a COVID-19 outbreak.

The stress we are likely to be experiencing and that for many of us, our daily routines will have changed significantly added with the challenges of being a parent, teacher, carer, and employee all at the same time rather than being able to separate them can contribute to the fatigue we may be feeling.

For others, such as those living on their own, the monotony of the current circumstance may cause tiredness and result in changes in routine.

To be able to combat lockdown fatigue we need to consider, how do we get our energy back?

 

Allow yourself to grieve the ‘old normal’

Many people miss the pleasures of their old way of life and are grieving the loss of safety and predictability that has resulted from COVID-19. Grief is a natural reaction to loss or change of any kind and it is important to give yourself time to adjust to new routines and activities.

Dealing with feelings of sadness and loss can make us feel like we are ‘on an emotional roller coaster’ which can cause our behaviour to be unpredictable. This can lead to tensions and conflicts with the people we live with and they may not know how to best support us. Being able to communicate honestly about how you are feeling and how you can support each other may reduce or avoid potential conflict. Remember, many people will be sharing a similar experience to you so don’t be afraid to share your feelings and be open to accepting help and support from others if needed (Macquarie University 2021)

 

Core elements to reduce our stress and how to remain positive during lockdown:

  1. Structure

To gain structure we need to plan our day. We need to think about how we structure and maintain a routine. Include the basics of fitting exercise and sleep into our daily planning.

For example, we get up at the same time, ‘go to work’, plan lesson times, take regular work breaks, plan family time, keep in contact with friends and relatives, exercise and sleep.

  1. Exercise

Exercise is good for us and even better if it’s done outdoors!  Governing bodies have been keen to allow outdoor exercise to continue during lockdown.  This helps to maintain and improve our health and wellbeing – so make the most of it!! Especially as the weather starts to warm up- I mentioned earlier that I took some time to spray my overgrown weeds- every little bit counts!!

Sunlight has other amazing properties, it provides a source of vitamin D, lowers high blood pressure, and even improves brain function.

  1. Good Sleep is Vital

A good night’s sleep is important for so many reasons and I would encourage you to do a bit of research why – you’ll be surprised!  We should try to get around 7-9 hours of sleep every night.  Where you sleep is important and it should be associated with sleeping. You should consider how your mattress and pillows support you when you sleep. If they don’t, it’s time to make a change.

A warm bath is a good way of relaxing yourself before bed, so too is meditation. These both have the effect of helping you fall asleep more quickly.

It’s also important to consider how alcohol and caffeine impact our sleep. Both will affect our sleep patterns.

Sleeping is a neglected component of our individual health and wellbeing strategy – we should remember that sleep helps our bodies to repair and prepare us for another day.

 

5 Tips for a Healthy Night’s Sleep:
  • Maintain a good routine, this will help to minimize stress
  • Get outdoors and exercise
  • Turn off screens and avoid sugary foods
  • Think about your sleep environment. Is the temperature, right? Are there any LED lights in the room?
  • Plan to do something that winds you down, like taking a bath or reading

 

Lockdown represents a change and a challenge in different ways for many individuals. There are unique opportunities for us to grow, but to do so we need to be happy and healthy.

The learning from the University of North Carolina indicates that we should take the time to ‘flip’ the challenges we face in lockdown and use it positively.

Accessing help and seeking additional support if you feel that you are struggling with lockdown fatigue, or with coping with any aspect of COVID-19 should not be considered a weakness on your part.

Utilizing your organization’s assistance programs is a great way to start!

A psychologist may also be able to help. Psychologists are highly trained and qualified professionals skilled in providing effective interventions for a range of mental health concerns. If you are referred to a psychologist by your GP, you might be eligible for a Medicare rebate.

You may also be eligible to receive psychology services via telehealth so that you do not need to travel to see a psychologist. Ask your psychologist or GP for details. There are number of ways to access a psychologist. You can:

  • Use the Australia-wide Find a PsychologistTM service. Go to findapsychologist.org.au or call 1800 333 497
  • Ask your GP or another health professional to refer you.
  • CRANA Plus provides free 24/7 counselling for health professionals and health students on placements.

    CRANA plus Bush Support Services

    • Toll free 24 hour free phone counselling service for those in rural areas
    • Phone 1800 805 391 anytime

 

There are many ways to combat those Lockdown fatigue feelings!  I have provided some great resources below for further reading. The beginning is recognizing your feelings and then equipping yourself to make a change!

 

Further reading:

https://coronavirus.beyondblue.org.au/

https://www.cardinus.com/us/insights/covid-19-hs-response/lockdown-fatigue-what-is-it/

https://psychology.org.au/getmedia/74e7a437-997c-4eea-a49c-30726ce94cf0/20aps-is-covid-19-public-lockdown-fatigue.pdf

https://www.mq.edu.au/thisweek/2021/08/09/managing-lockdown-fatigue/#.YT_Zn50zaUk

https://thetherapyhub.com.au/dealing-with-lockdown-fatigue/

 

Kylie Browne

Associate Lecturer, Rural Placement Education

Going Rural Health Shepparton

Registered Nurse & Nurse Educator