I don’t know about you but I am tired. I feel physically drained, depleted, and devoid of any sparkle.
I remember back in March when we first got word that we were going to be Sheltering In Place, I had just returned from a week in Palm Springs and had the golden glow to prove it. I was rejuvenated albeit anxious, and felt ready to take on this new challenge. I stocked up on pasta and wine and buckled up for the ride. How long would this last? A month? Two? Toilet paper hoarding and hand sanitizer shortages have thankfully faded into oblivion.
Seemingly blissful days filled with baking bread, puzzles, Zoom happy hours, and binge watching Love is Blind and Ozark feel like a lifetime ago. While waiting for normalcy to resume, I, like many, had found ways to fill the time, but once the novelty wore off, I ran out of steam. Without any real compelling reason to get up and go, I found myself sleeping in later and later.
We are going on 8 months now and while things have improved, I am still tired. I do half the things I did before COVID 19, and yet I have half the energy as well. What is up?
A few months ago I was fortunate enough to participate in a group therapy session with Valerie Hamaker (check her out on IG @valeriehamakertherapy) and gleaned insight into this so-called COVID fatigue. According to Valerie, in addition to the stress of the pandemic we are tired because we are not receiving energy from our typical sources. I may have enjoyed putting together the 1000 piece candy bar puzzle, but it did not fill my proverbial cup in the way that a dinner party with friends, a live concert, or a trip to France would have. We are expending a lot of energy taking care of business, others and sometimes ourselves, but are getting very little back in return – especially the things that are personal and matter.
The bottom line, is we are social beings and we crave connection. We are missing our interactions with other humans in ways that are deeply profound. In the past I might have taken a spin class at the gym to unwind or socialize. Now I jump on a stationary bike at home. It helps, but the community element is missing. I can take my mind off of my worries by watching the Great British Baking Show, but nothing beats happy hour with your besties laughing until your sides ache. And don’t get me started on hugs.
We are faced with the dilemma of identifying what refuels us and then trying to replicate these experiences in the COVID context. I can’t go to a Guns N Roses concert but I can pull out my turntable and rekindle the joy of vinyl. I know there are some like-minded souls out there who are also missing live music. We can share playlists and songs and create a new connection. It is not the same, but it is a start.
How do we replace get-togethers with our friends? Spending time together feels so good, but since we are limited, we have to think of how to spark that same emotion. Remember the days of picking up the phone and calling someone? Or how about a hand-written note? I used to scream with giddy excitement when I received a card in the mail. Make someone’s day by spontaneously mailing a card (not a text) to tell them you are thinking of them. It feels good. We have to make lemonade from the lemons.
The silver linings are many: for me it is endless hours of conversation and meals with my senior Luca. If this were a typical year (i.e. no COVID) Luca would have been at the top of the high school food chain. He and his other senior buddies would have been out at football games, at parties, and probably anywhere else but home. He would have been ‘soiling the nest’ and in theory rendering our inevitable goodbyes somewhat easier. While it is sad for the kids, especially seniors, who along with added angst of college applications, have missed out on many MIHS traditions, I am thankful to have had this time with him. Deep down I think he is too.
We are in this for a while. But we are in it together. Define what fills your cup and then make it happen and share your ideas with others. We are better together. I will look forward to a hand-written note or a drive by happy hour very soon!