Are you struggling with quarantine fatigue?
Quarantine life is filled with ups and downs. Some days are good; the kids listen and cooperate, you and your husband get along, and you feel energized.
Other days are tough. You fight with your husband, the kids misbehave, and you feel totally DRAINED and EXHAUSTED.
Call it Caution Fatigue, Quarantine Fatigue, Compassion Fatigue, Zoom Fatigue, Parenting Fatigue… At the end of the day, YOU ARE FATIGUED.
IT’S NORMAL TO MISS LIFE PRE-QUARANTINE
And you miss the aspects of life that help you feel less fatigued!
You miss your friends, playdates, your husband going to work. You miss the kids going to school and hearing about their day. You miss going to your office, connecting with people, hugs, face to face conversations, eating out, going to the gym, BBQs with friends, beach time, and sports. You miss sleeping well and not feeling anxious. You miss it all.
I know that you are tired and desperately need a break.
I know that you want to pull the covers over your head and wake up when this is over, we all do!
But I’m here to remind you that you can get through this. You can decrease your stress and reduce quarantine fatigue.
You can take better care of yourself so that you can take better care of your children, family, and work.
It doesn’t require more from you; it requires the right focus.
SMALL CHANGES WILL HELP WITH QUARANTINE FATIGUE
If you want to thrive during quarantine and change some unhealthy habits that have formed, you have to take control of your life and be thoughtful about the coping skills you implement. Sure, you may want to sleep late every day or have a drink at the end of the day, but are those coping skills serving you?
Review the list below and assess where and how you can make some changes or create some new habits. Even small shifts and adjustments here and there will make a big difference in your ability to decrease quarantine fatigue.
SELF-CARE WILL HELP WITH QUARANTINE FATIGUE
- SLEEP HYGIENE – Sleep is essential for managing stress. To get a good night’s sleep, you need to practice good sleep hygiene. That means being mindful of the time you go to sleep, what you eat or drink before bed, staying hydrated during the day, limited screen time before bed, and aiming to get up around the same time daily. Whether that is 6:30AM or 8AM doesn’t matter as much as having a consistent sleep routine.
- LIMIT ALCOHOL INTAKE – I know this will not make me popular, but I’m not in this biz to be popular, I’m here to help. Alcohol affects mood and sleep and our overall well-being. Since quarantine began, there has definitely been an increase in alcohol consumption in our country. From day-drinking to get through home-schooling to drinking every night, more and more parents are hitting the bottle more frequently and consuming dangerous levels of alcohol. So I challenge you to evaluate your drinking habits. To start, ask yourself the following questions: Am I drinking more now that I was pre-quarantine? Am I comfortable with the amount of alcohol I am consuming? Am I comfortable with the time of day or frequency of days during the week that I am drinking? Could I implement healthier coping skills to deal with my stress and overwhelm (i.e., take a walk, read, stretch, play with the kids, meditate for 5 minutes, take 5 deep breaths)? Would I be comfortable sharing how much I am TRULY drinking with a therapist?
- GET OUTSIDE – If it is possible to get outside where you live, GET OUTSIDE! No, you don’t have to break the “stay at home” orders and go to the beach, but you can walk around your neighborhood, try a new trail early in the morning before it gets crowded, or do jumping jacks in your yard with the kids. The goal is not only to exercise your body but to shift your perspective mentally. When you get outside, you engage new senses. You notice the birds chirping, feel the breeze on your skin, take in new sights, and smell the flowers blooming. Getting outside will help your mood, your mental health, and your physical health.
- MAKE A PLAN – Identify how you will structure the next few days. Do not think too far in advance; just focus on the week in front of you. And when I say structure, I do not mean creating an hour by hour plan, but rather an overall flow for the day. For example, will you wake up with the kids and do homework or get them out for a walk? Will you prep dinner during lunch so you can go for a family walk before dinner or order out? Will you sit outside and read during the kid’s nap or finish up a task or work project? If you can, think about your upcoming week Sunday evening and write down some notes to keep you focused day-to-day. If that feels too overwhelming, just think about a loose plan for the next day before you go to bed each night. Take a few minutes to jot down a few notes on your phone so that you don’t forget your plan when you wake up.
- ASK FOR HELP – Your husband cannot read your mind, and he probably has times during the day or during the week when he can help. Ask him to identify when he is available and use that time wisely. At least some of the time that he is available, take a break. Do not just focus on chores and/or work. Some of the time, take a mental break. Go for a walk by yourself, drive around and listen to music, sit in the sun and read, stretch, do yoga, breathe. Small breaks throughout your week will help decrease your fatigue and help you cope better during stressful times.
- EXPRESS GRATITUDE – A simple expression of daily gratitude can help with depression and increase happiness. Get in the habit of waking up and reminding yourself of 1 thing you are grateful for — an extra bonus for going to bed and making a short gratitude list.
- SET REALISTIC EXPECTATIONS – You are human. Yes, you are super, but you are not superhuman. You have limits; you have emotions; you have a breaking point. Be cautious not to expect too much out of yourself. Your children and husband also have limits, so review the expectations you have for your whole family. Everyone, including you, needs compassion and love right now. By being realistic and compassionate, you will experience less disappointment, frustration, anxiety, and depression.
- LAUGH AND HAVE FUN – Yes, there is work that needs to be done. Yes, the kids have school assignments to complete. And yes, the house is a mess. But if you try to let go here and there and have fun, it will boost your mood. Turn on the music and dance while you make lunch. Tickle the kids while you’re getting them dressed in the morning. Put your work down and engage in their play. Have a water balloon fight in your backyard. There are so many ways to be silly, but we often miss out on the opportunity because we are focused on the next task. Set a goal to be silly with your kids daily!
Overall, this is a highly stressful time, and it is normal if you feel fatigued. Getting through the challenging moments and days will come easier if you are managing your emotions by implementing healthy self-care and putting your energy into the right buckets.