January is drawing to a close and we’ve just passed the grim milestone marking one year since Canada’s first COVID-19 diagnosis. In January 2020, the reality of COVID-19 hadn’t quite become the worldwide reality that it now is; we were still cheering at hockey games, singing along at concerts and blowing out the candles on birthday cakes. Now we are in this endless loop of Zoom filled days and Netflix nights.
As Susan Scott has said, “Burnout happens, not because we’re trying to solve problems but because we’ve been trying to solve the same problem over and over and over.”
Does this sound familiar?
To help cope with the burnout we are all facing, it can be helpful to acknowledge three things:
We are emotionally exhausted
There is a tendency to feel as though life has lost its meaning
You may be questioning your own abilities or feel like a failure
If we can acknowledge that we might need some extra care because we are struggling, we are more likely to prioritize it. Even better if you can acknowledge it to someone else.
Dealing with emotional exhaustion:
Remember to keep your goals simple and reasonable. There is no need to feel like you have to crush it 24/7 in the middle of a global crisis. Acknowledge where you are at physically and emotionally.
Perhaps a 10 minute walk with a friend is more attainable than a 5km run? Could you develop a simple mindfulness practice, even if it’s just one minute of connecting with your senses while you sip a cup of tea? Does staying in your pajamas feel like the right choice sometimes? Gift yourself with a pajama day once in a while and celebrate that choice!
Find joy where you can and in the most simple, yet uplifting ways. Consider writing these joys down everyday, like a list of things you’re grateful for. This can be a pleasant reminder when the doldrums creep in.
Finding meaning in the mundane:
The lockdown strategies and quarantine measures we have all undertaken to manage the viral spread during the pandemic mean we have lost our social connections and structures that bring meaning to our days.
Try to write down a plan for the day to help you make (and keep!) commitments to yourself, be intentional with your actions and prioritize the things that matter most to you. Writing can be a powerful way of helping your emotional brain meet your logical brain to support your actions and plans. If you're looking for a place to journal and plan, check out out planner.
We can find comfort in our routine - getting dressed, enjoying a coffee, making meals, watering plants. Plot these tasks in your calendar and build from there. Do you feel better when you get outside every day? Write that into the plan. Does connecting with a certain friend or group of people make you feel inspired. Book a call to have a weekly chat and put it on the calendar. Add things that feel meaningful - little things, manageable things, purposeful things, frivolous things.
Acknowledge that you are doing the best you can and set yourself up for success:
When our work is in our home it is easy to lose the distinction between work time and personal time. While you are in work-mode, avoid the tendency to multitask by closing unnecessary tabs and documents. Use alarms on your phone to remind you to stand up and take a break from your desk. Take your lunch break without your phone. Mark the end of your work day in your calendar and log out.
Schedule time everyday to read, create, or explore one of your passions. Is there a project you’ve been working on or something you’ve always wanted to try? Making small progress toward a goal can feel very rewarding. Perhaps you’ve picked up knitting and you’d like to commit to 5 rows a day or you’d like to read for 10 minutes every night. Keep it simple but enjoyable.
Be gentle with yourself and with those in your circle. We haven’t lived through a pandemic before so it is essential to remember that we are building the airplane while we are flying it. There are going to be slip ups, and that is ok. Keep your inner voice kind.
In my occupational therapy practice, I often see people after a mental health crisis has occurred. In my coaching practice I enjoy focusing on providing my clients with tools so they don’t reach that point.
If you feel like you need more tools to help you cope, I’m here. Let’s talk. #bellletstalk
Our ACTivate Vitality: Rise and Live Fully program may be a good fit if you are looking to learn new strategies, join a supportive community, and have accountability in making important vitality-building shifts in your life. Book a call to learn more.