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“We’re not all in the same boat”

The last few months have certainly been some of the strangest many of us have endured in our lifetime. A global pandemic that has driven a seismic shift in how we live our everyday lives. And with that, we’ve experienced many extremes – kindness, generosity and community, right through to fear, anger, frustration and loss.

Throughout the whole period I’ve been working with my clients to help them navigate the situation, taking into account their unique circumstances with health, family and work. One thing is for certain – whilst we are all in the same storm, we are definitely not all in the same boat. Understanding each other at a personal level, and refraining from judgement, has never been more important.

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There are people understandably scared, whether that’s about their health, family, finances, safety, or job and business security. There are people who are stretched to the max, juggling working from home with home-schooling, childcare and more. There are people who are loving furlough and are throwing themselves into the opportunity for home improvements or learning new skills. There are key workers – our heroes, who we will forever be indebted to, and whom are likely exhausted.

So no, we’re not all in the same boat. But one very common symptom of this storm that seems to be affecting most is the sense of lockdown fatigue, and there are some very good reasons for that.

Dealing with change and uncertainty

What everyone is going through is an enormous amount of change and uncertainty, both of which are stressful and exhausting. Irrespective of your circumstances, it is highly probable that you will have experienced greater stress levels than normal over these past three months.

With the stress response comes disrupted sleep, changeable moods, reduced ability to concentrate and problem solve, and a whole host of other unwelcome side effects. But more than anything, the stress response itself consumes lots of energy, and therefore is often linked to that sense of fatigue and complaints of being tired all the time.

The absence of real connection

We’ve been asked to isolate ourselves and keep a safe distance from anyone outside of our household, meaning that our human connection has disappeared overnight. The people we called on for fun, laughter, energy, a sense of calm, and more, no longer available to us in the way we were used to. Human connection is essential and energising, and this situation takes its toll by denying us one of our core needs for survival.

Technology overload

We’ve been hugely innovative throughout this period and technology has been our saviour. Video calling and online socialising has become the norm, along with people adjusting to working from home all the time. But with that overuse of technology, also comes frustration and a general lack of fulfilment. The 2-D world never really measures up to the 3-D inperson experience, and it can be very draining and tiring to spend all day on video calls.

Out of control

It’s completely normal and natural to want a sense of control over how we spend our time, who with, and doing what. It’s the liberty that we are all accustomed to. To have that removed can be challenging, frustrating, and worrying. And when the duration of
that restriction extends beyond initial expectations, it comes with that feeling of “when will this ever end?” Without regaining some semblance of control to life, this situation is stressful and tiring.

Less downtime

For many people, there hasn’t been a break in the diary since the start of lockdown. If a holiday away was cancelled, so was the time off work. “What’s the point of using my holiday allowance if I can’t go anywhere?” is a phrase I’ve heard a lot during the last 3 months. For many of those running their own business, time off hasn’t even been an option. And with less distinction between workdays and weekends, experiencing true downtime seems to have been more difficult than usual.

“Don’t give yourself a hard time about lockdown fatigue”

The fatigue associated with lockdown is real and there are very good reasons for it. This is a global crisis we are enduring, and there is no reason to give yourself a hard time if you’re finding it difficult. I don’t know anyone who hasn’t struggled in some way whilst weathering this storm.

Turning the tide and avoiding burnout

As the lockdown rules ease and we head into our new “normal”, it will be tempting to steam ahead, catch up on all the things we’ve missed, and try and condense all of our disrupted plans into a short time period.

But before you do that, may I suggest the following?

  • Draw on all the positives from the last 3 months, the things that have really brought you joy and made you smile – and determine how you can keep those things present in life.
  • Re-establish what’s important to you and where you really want to spend your time. Many people have reported enjoyment (even relief) in having fewer plans, and simply not having to do as much.
  • Look after yourself – with the solid foundations of health and resilience in place, you set yourself up for success when it comes to future challenges and always being able to bounce back in the best shape possible.

Deborah Bulcock is a coach and business partner who helps teams and individuals to excel at work and thrive in life. At www.deborahbulcock.com you can find out more about Deborah, get access to her online programme ‘The Resilience Formula’, and her bestselling book ‘Have It All Without Burning Out’.

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