I Took A Late Nap Today
I don’t usually do that. My son’s girlfriend (who I usually just call my daughter-in-law or roommate because it’s easier) even remarked on it.
I’m tired. Not sleepy tired. The “other kind” of tired. You might know what I mean. I mean “I’ve got too many things on my mind, too much to do, and I don’t think I have it in me to meet this life challenge” tired.
If you are a woman in the sandwich generation, you face this often. You don’t need the year 2020 and the start of 2021 to feel that way. But let’s look at the last 14 months anyway, mostly because I need to feel better about my nap and I am inviting you on my journey.
2020 left people exhausted in a new, and unique way. As a collective, we’ve been stressed and depleted for an extended period of time. Our resources have been tapped – money, time, mood management, and emotional stability.
The year began with a vague uncertainty, a hovering threat that carried dire warnings but seemed contained and unreal. We (in the US) seemed to move into action and a response before most of us observed people in our inner circles impacted by COVID. A few isolated cases were documented and those mostly contracted by specific travel. It was impossible to imagine the months to come.
School moved home, teachers and administrations were suddenly thrust into the expectation of being experts at delivering education in a manner that they had no time to prepare. At the same time, parents experienced reduced hours, a change in work setting, or an elimination of their job role altogether.
Health and Mental Health Fallout
Eventually health concerns creeped into nearly all areas and packed people inside while at the same time as social justice concerns brought people outside, into the streets, and became a catalyst for protests, riots, and a heightened political divide that set a tone that created a foundation on which the presidential campaign launched.
2020 was a relentless year, hammering the US and individual citizens. We were stressed in unprecedented ways and blocked from the ability to mitigate that stress.
Research shows that stress is best mitigated by social connectedness; the exact opposite of what disease hygiene commands. Stress is also diffused by exercise but gyms were closed. Personal resources such as stable mood are managed usually by a balance of interaction, personal reflection, hobbies, and spiritual disciplines such as worship. Each one of these have been impacted and even made elusive by COVID.
Families, neighbors, coworkers and friends have been experiencing various levels of disconnect and discord as a result of disagreement in perspective politically or from a health management perspective.
We approached 2021 hopeful but tired; trying to be hopeful about the vaccine, the new year, about stability in government. But we are like individuals who have PTSD; we are hypervigilant and looking over our shoulders waiting for the next big issue.
And we’ve had a series of festering issues: an insurrection, mass shootings, more interactions between POC and law enforcement that resulted in death of the citizen, scandal and accusations against political figures, a vaccine halt.
We are, as a nation and as individuals, experience a unique kind of fatigue.
If you’ve worked with me for more than 30 seconds, we’ve done some work with ego deflation and decision fatigue.
Here are some ideas to help if you feel tired, down, or depressed.
1. It’s ok if you want to nap. Don’t let your experience of and during COVID 19 become a Pinterest competition. If you did happen to be one of the people who found the meaning of life during COVID, became closer to their spouse and kids, sculpted their body, and redecorated their house, awesome. For the rest of us, nap.
2. Set limits. Here are some areas to set limits –
- Social media
- Conversations and interactions with people who drain you
- Say “no” if you are asked to help with something and your immediate, gut level response is “no”
- Honor YOUR level of gathering, getting together, mixing, and going out. Make your decisions based on the data you gather (after a limited amount of news per item 1. above). Stick to it, and don’t feel the need to defend that.
3. Use humor. In my own family, we’ve taken to watching COVID 19. They help us process and laugh at the situation. I understand the underlying psychology, but that doesn’t minimize the power. Have you seen The Holderness family? They are hysterical. And talented.
4. Be creative. No, not Pinterest level creative. The kind of creativity that is a catalyst for a part of your brain that elevates the good feeling chemicals. Write, draw, paint, craft.
5. Move – get out of your head and in your body. Yoga, walking, and Tai Chi are known to have neuro-cognitive and physical benefits.
6. Create a corner of sanctuary. If you don’t already have one, create a space in your home (however small or big) that when you sit in it or look at it you feel better. It can be a chair and a side table, a shelf, or a room. Fill it with colors and textures and items that feel good to you. Spend time there.
7. Have great sex. Or just sex. Invite someone else if you want, or just be alone.
8. Avoid big decisions – It’s common under distress to want to change your feelings. When under big distress, it’s common to want to change BIG things to fix those feelings. But at this time, we don’t have access to our best decision pathways. It’s best to wait on decisions about relationships, jobs, and moving.
If you’d like to work with me 1:1, please contact me to discuss a coaching package.