How can lockdown be so tiring?
Fatigue can have both physical and non-physical consequences. Following a competition we expect to be tired and know we need a rest- even if we don’t always take one. After exams or a long period of study, we treat ourselves to a break or spa day. After illness, we expect to be run down for a few weeks and take time to build things back up.
But tiredness can also be caused by psychological states, such as stress and anxiety. Dealing with the psychological strain associated with coronavirus could also be wearing us out. Even if we put worries to the back of our mind they can run in the background- like a hungry application on your phone. Other people’s anxiety and the constant steam of new and old information can trigger and open these programs back up again bringing them to the front of your mind and draining your battery. All the things can lead to a drop in mood, energy and lingering sense of melancholy. Read this article for help to understand anxiety and learn what you can do to help yourself.
Another thing to consider is how you are used to operating daily. The brain seeks newness and stimulation and in the current situation this can be hard to get. Most of us are used to busy days in which we process millions of pieces of information unconsciously through our senses. We travel to different places, have interesting conversations, we encounter and overcome mental and physical puzzles on a daily basis and naturally move a whole lot more.
When we spend time with others we tell stories and share experiences, we learn from each other. We gain ideas and inspiration which influences and motivates us to take action. These actions give us satisfaction, a sense of achievement. We ping pong from the highs to the lows and to the middle each day, learning, failing and experiencing life.
So there’s no wonder that the monotony of the current situation can leave us feeling tired. And as much as it may seem to go against your instincts, finding the energy to give yourself a mental workout may help you to feel more alive!
Here are my top 3 tips to stimulate your mental appetite in lockdown.
- Read and learn – but not from social media. Ever check in on social media and get lost on there for more than 15mins but feel like you’ve learned nothing? More likely you’ll find yourself purchasing, consuming and comparing yourself to others than learning anything worthwhile. It’s not your fault, billons of pounds have been spent searching how best to lock you in. Social media plays to your dopamine seeking-reward system which is difficult to satisfy and can be challenging to manage. To overcome this tendency visit websites directly, read articles, books and journals which will provide you with interesting information from reputable sources without all the ads and distractions.
- Stimulate yourself with a skill. I’m always working on something and I enjoy the feeling of making progress. After overcoming the initial shock and adapting to lockdown life with the family at home, I’ve found energy for this again. I’m not pushing as much as I usually do, it, but I’m challenging myself with gymnastic skills such as handstands and headstands which have always given me a sense of achievement. Consider, what have you always enjoyed pre-lockdown? Maybe you abandoned it because your competition was postponed, or your holiday was cancelled – the end goal moved. Perhaps now is a good time to re-start and challenge yourself by setting an achievable short term goal which fits with what you are doing now and what you can focus on over the month ahead.
- Play and create. Again, when you’ve got a grump on, or if you’re feeling stressed you probably won’t want to engage in this. Many of us struggle with play generally and associate it with going out drinking or exercise. When my son asks me to play lego, I’m not overly enthusiastic and my brain shouts “pointless.” I know its not about the lego, but the lesson here is that when I get into it I actually enjoy it. The research says that play is good for our health. In our very structured lives, getting creative can help us to feel more relaxed by bringing us into the present moment, exercising our imagination muscles, whilst stimulating thought and new ideas. Think about what play could mean for you in lockdown …writing, colouring, painting, dancing, music, singing, gymnastics? What used to make you smile, laugh or helps you to escape reality? What did you used to enjoy as a child?
I hope this article has got you thinking about how to keep yourself mentally stimulated and satisfied during lockdown. Hopefully it will help to raise your energy and give you some ideas on how to lift your mood. Obviously I’m pro-exercise and I recommend a daily dose of physical activity to help you through self isolation. If you’re feeling exhausted keep an eye on the intensity not to wipe yourself out as you’re managing the daily challenges. It’s important to install good habits to manage stress and take care of others too. Check out my other recent posts which relate to some of the topics I’ve talked about in this blog including this one on how kindness can combat stress.
All the best and stay well.