Am I experiencing lockdown fatigue?

If you’re feeling utterly exhausted, flat, and generally a bit “blah” during lockdown, you’re not alone. Lockdown fatigue is a very real experience. Being exposed to prolonged stress and uncertainty will take its toll on your mind and emotions.

Challenging and unfamiliar situations can activate a stress response in the nervous system, which requires extra energy for our brains and bodies to process. When this state of stress continues long term, it can sap all your energy and leave you feeling burned out. Most of us have lived with some degree of uncertainty since the pandemic began. Whether it’s in regard to work, finances, future plans, border closures, cancelled holidays, separation from loved ones, or trying to navigate the ever-changing restrictions, it’s enough to leave anyone feeling drained.

What does lockdown fatigue look like?

Any of the following symptoms could signal lockdown fatigue.

  • Physical exhaustion
  • Irritability or short temper
  • Sadness or low mood
  • Difficulty concentrating, focusing or prioritising tasks
  • Lack of motivation
  • Difficulty making decisions or problem-solving
  • Persistent negative thoughts
  • Difficulty maintaining a routine
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Excessive tiredness throughout the day
  • Difficulty sleeping or feeling wired

How to manage lockdown fatigue

Aside from maintaining general self-care strategies, such as regular exercise and healthy eating, try implementing some of the following strategies to boost your mood, energy and change your mindset

  1. Celebrate small wins: At the end of each day, write down a few things you did well or achieved. It might be a work-related achievement or something like going for a run, cooking a meal or spending an hour of quality time with your partner. Make a list of anything that made you feel good or accomplished. Trying to regularly focus on the positives can train your brain to see more positives in daily life.
  2. Practice mindfulness: Regular mindfulness exercises can help to regulate emotions and promote acceptance of the present moment and current circumstances. People who practice mindfulness regularly tend to be less emotionally reactive, have better control over their thoughts and focus, as well as better regulation of fear and anxiety responses.
  3. Limit social media and news updates: Being regularly bombarded with information, opinions and bad news will activate a stress response and leave your brain feeling fried. Try deleting Instagram, Facebook and Twitter from your phone for a while to avoid getting sucked into mindless scrolling. Choose a news source you trust and only check updates once a day.
  4. Signal the end of the day: Day and night, work and play can all blur into one when you’re in lockdown, making it hard to switch off at the end of the day. Use external cues to mark the end of your workday. Turn off your computer and move away from your desk, go for a walk around the block or take a shower and change your clothes to signal a transition from work to downtime.
  5. Connect with someone you care about: Social interaction with someone you genuinely care about can help to regulate the stress response. Even if you’re feeling flat, making the effort to call someone, go for a (socially distanced) walk with a friend or spend quality time with your household can leave you more energised and positive.

And if after all that, you just don’t have the mental capacity to add in any more wellbeing strategies to your routine, just focus on ONE thing that you can do each day to benefit your wellbeing.

Whilst mental fatigue and heightened emotions are a normal response during this time, if you are feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty getting through daily tasks, don’t hesitate to reach out.