On a couple of occasions in my life I recall 'hitting the wall' - an analogy use in endurance running for getting to the point where sudden loss of energy and fatigue hits hard. I've experienced it both in running and in work situations. In September I wrote about how research suggested the 6 month Covid point was like hitting the wall and how we have an adaptation phase. Now as England goes into a further lockdown and where I'm based in Edinburgh we are in a pretty restricted tier zone, life feels very different - psychologically we are facing different stresses. Whilst normally we think of burnout correlating to work stress, long hours at the office .... research is suggesting that the pandemic has caused significant psychological impact worldwide and Covid Burnout is real. Anxiety and stress are prevalent and women statistically seem to be more affected than men. "Burnout in the course of dealing with a pandemic can make you feel emotionally drained and unable to function in the context of many aspects of life. Burnout can lower your motivation and cause you to feel helpless, hopeless, and resentful" (Douglas Queen & Keith Harding).
So with constant virus information hitting us, regular changes in restrictions, worries about finances, schooling and children, homes becoming workplaces ....... it's easy to see how decision fatigue kicks in. Add in the fact that our coping mechanisms have all but disappeared (fun nights out, holidays, gym.....) and social media is constantly telling us how we should be writing our best seller, de-cluttering our houses and why not throw in a new language - aghhhh! Oh and if you have a business everyone else is doing better than you because they have been slogging away whilst you have been slobbing out!
So how do we Burn Brighter rather than burnout? Ultimately that depends on the person but there are so many things we can do to keep ourselves at our best rather than pile more stress on. As I keep telling my teenagers (and hoping they believe me because it is true) - this is resilience building - so afterwards our ability to manage will be much stronger.
As with most of life, there are various things we can do to help ourselves.
- eat, sleep & hydrate well
- take breaks from work through the day and remember holidays are good even if that just means a few days off
- exercise, the endorphins released will help fight off the inflammatory cortisol caused by stress
- keep connected with friends & colleagues, even if we're all zoomed out it's important to have social connection
- respect other people will have different opinions / react differently
- limit your exposure to negative influences - if social media stresses you out - switch off, watch reliable news updates at regular intervals not all the time
- relax by doing things old or new that you enjoy and maybe look into new stress release techniques and aim to go from anxiety to zen
- seek support for issues that can lead to crisis - debt, depression, abuse ....
A few of the key things I've learned in life - slow down, comparison is the thief of joy and life really does work in patterns and cycles - we will ultimately get through this but the more growth and positive mindset we have the happier the process and we will be. If you would like to explore more about how to burn brighter rather than burnout, I'd love to chat with you and my Re-Vitalise and Re-Set programme may be just what you need to help keep you focussed over these coming winter months.