It is normal to feel exhausted and sad. We do not talk too often about how we feel, about the moments when we no longer find resources, energy, because at the social level still persists the stigma related to negative emotions and mental health. A subject that we talk about too little or not at all, because we do not have the necessary framework, because we do not know how to do it, because we lack this exercise of introspection and expression. But most of all, we lack the tolerance and the understanding of those around us. Undoubtedly, the last two years have left their mark on each and every one of us, and we feel the effects of the pandemic crisis on an individual level. Some of us may have felt extremely anxious and fearful, others isolated and torn from the world and dear ones. Some have often lost their meaning and landmarks while others lost loved ones or experiences, perspectives, status, money and whatever could be added to the list of losses.
We still don’t see that light at the end of the tunnel, no matter how optimistic we might be. It is about a specific burnout caused by the pandemic and all the overloads we were exposed to during this crisis. It’s a form of exhaustion that is widespread and very much related to the collective trauma we are part of. No matter how hard we try to deny it, we all go through moments of sadness, we all experience a lack of meaning and find it hard to find resources to start over every day. The most difficult it seems to be to find reasons for joy and that “joy of life” we knew at some point in time in our life. We are overhelmed.
It is very difficult to adapt to the new life conditions, to adjust our desires and goals, so as to reduce our cognitive and emotional dissonance. Perhaps the disillusionment is explained by the fact that those who are satisfied with what they have, are experiencing the highest degree of happiness, while those who see the empty side of the glass, live in perpetual unhappiness and dissatisfaction. It is becoming more and more difficult to be satisfied with much less with each passing day and this creates tension and frustration. On the one hand, it makes us more stubborn and we seek in a compensatory way what we have lost, until we end up exhausted in this rush to nowhere.
It is natural to feel exhausted, to try to look for coping mechanisms in the context in which we live – some more adaptive and others more maladaptive. It seems that it is becoming more and more difficult to maintain the balance. However, we need to return to ourselves, to accept the situation as it is, regardless of the plans and aspirations we would have for this period. And most importantly, we need to not “turn” the engines having in mind that we are late, but rather to slow down and “power” them; to take a break.
It becomes a priority to manage our energy more than ever, to make sure that our work is not just a rush for a result, but that it itself charges us, gives us meaning and stimulates us. Maybe we are not in the ideal context to take a break and maybe a break is not a solution, but we need to get out of autopilot and see that we are doing something meaningful. It’s getting harder and harder, because all our usual coping mechanisms are now less accessible. Social support has dwindled, friends have moved away, isolation is felt more and more. How can we remain resilient during such times?
It is very important to continually readjust in the sense that we:
- Adapt the list of our goals to the context, so that we can minimize the pressure we feel without blaming ourselves for it
- Reduce isolation and lack of social contact as much as possible and keep our interactions with significant ones (family, friends, co-workers,)
- We focus more on caring for ourselves, physically and mentally, paying more attention and caring about our overall well-being and fitness.
- Get out of the comfort of the house and relax in nature, park, outdoors
- Find small joys and capitalize on what is positive in our lives
- Take advantage of the time we would have spent otherwise, in order to develop professionally and personally and take this period as a happy occasion in which we allow ourselves to do this.
What may normalize the feelings we experience is the fact that we are not the only ones going through this experience, but it largely depends on us how we relate to it, what we can learn, and how much we can develop.