Feeling mentally exhausted by the never-ending pandemic? Let’s talk…

Are you feeling mentally exhausted by the never-ending pandemic? Me too! Are you worn out by the fact that this thing has more twists and turns than a soap opera episode? Yep! Would you like some practical advice to help you deal with pandemic fatigue so that you can get through these challenging times that are dragging on and on and on (and then on some more)? Well that’s what I’m covering in this post, so… get comfortable and let’s talk about better mental health!

Actual footage of me trying to get motivated on day 3,872 of lockdown…

Want to watch the video version of this post? Here it is:

So let’s just call this pandemic what it is: exhausting! Look, I said quite early on in several of my podcast episodes that this thing was probably going to drag on and on and that it would most likely have more sequels and spin-offs than the Star Wars franchise… and unfortunately, I was right. Trust me when I tell you that I take absolutely no comfort in being right about that, however!

The thing is that whether or not we care to acknowledge what is going on around us, the reality is that this thing is here to stay for a while. You can either resist that fact, which will cause you frustration and unnecessary suffering, or you can make your peace with it by focusing on acceptance (something I talked about in Episode 36 of my weekly Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast). So with that piece of advice ringing in your mind, here are 15 practical tips on how to do that — starting with:

(1) Know that it’s OK to feel a bit rubbish sometimes — you might have good days, average days and crappy days, and that’s to be expected! These are difficult times and there is so much information overload that it can make it tough to maintain your balance; which leads me to tip number two…

(2) Take things one day at a time — OK so I know it’s difficult to do this one, especially if you’ve been in lockdown for weeks or months on end or you’re seeing case numbers spiralling out of control wherever you are, but all we can ever do is focus on the present and see where the future takes us. No amount of worrying about the future is going to make it any easier (and I talked about that in Episode 95 of the Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast, so check that out for more on the subject). Part of that involves my next point…

(3) Practice acceptance — because the situation is the situation, and no amount of resisting that fact will change it (which, as I mentioned above, I talked about in Episode 36). When you learn how to accept things in a healthy way, it helps you to do my next point which is…

(4) Focus on what is within your control — because I hate to break this to you, but all you can control is what you do and say (as well as what you choose to do with your feelings); absolutely everything else in life is outside of your direct control. You know those times you get annoyed because someone is doing something stupid or not wearing a mask properly? Yep, totally irritating… but out of your control. Instead of getting yourself worked up over that stuff, focus on what you can control — yourself. Next, 

(5) Be mindful — and this is about being present (which I covered in Episode 83) and exploring ways to be more mindful and grounded in the present moment. I’m sharing that tip because there is still so much uncertainty but really, when you think about it, all we have for certain is this moment, right now, and so when we focus on making the most of the present we learn to let go of our worries and fears for the future (because the majority of the stuff that will happen in the future is out of our direct control anyway!). That leads to my next point which is…

(6) Have a daily routine — no matter what is going on and whether you’re free to roam around or if you’re facing ongoing restrictions and lockdowns, by creating a healthy daily routine you help yourself to manage your time more thoughtfully. When you just ‘wing it’ it can be easy to get distracted and before you know it you haven’t showered in five weeks and emergency services have to peel you off your couch because you’re stuck… and nobody wants that. Speaking of, my next tip is…

(7) Take care of yourself — because if you don’t, who will? This is about being proactive in looking after your mind, body and spirit… consider what you consume (physically and mentally) and have daily practices that help you to look after your health and wellbeing, like my next point…

(8) Limit your media intake — and I’ve talked about this a lot on this show and in my podcast, and the fact is that the media doesn’t tend to present that much in the way of positive news because we human beings tend to be more focused on the negative. I promise you that you can stay up to date even if you only quickly check the news online once a day (which is what I do) — and you’ll feel much better for it. Speaking of that leads me to…

(9) Less doomscrolling, more positive consumption — have you ever found yourself watching the rolling news coverage or scrolling through content online and finding it tough to stop? That’s doom scrolling and it will make your brain explode if you do it too often… why? Because negativity attracts more negativity. Instead, choose to focus on consuming positive, optimistic, inspiring and uplifting content and keep the doom and gloom to the bare minimum; you don’t have to wallow in the mud to know what’s going on in the world (and more knowledge usually leads to feeling more crappy, so prioritise your wellbeing!). One easy way to do that is…

(10) Get outside as often as you can — I’m fortunate to have a backyard and so I go out and work on my laptop as much as possible, but even if you don’t have outdoor space at least get outside for a walk or to stretch your legs as often as you can (or as often as you’re allowed to if there are restrictions in place). Fresh air and sunshine usually make us feel better about ourselves and help us to clear our head. Next…

(11) Set and maintain boundaries with anyone you share space with — for many of us, we’re not going out as much as we used to (if at all!) and so that means that if you share space with others then you might find yourself feeling like you’re on top of each others sometimes (or all of the time). Deal with this by having open and honest conversations, and agree on some boundaries that will make life easier for both of you, like my next point…

(12) If you’re working from home, have a dedicated space — because when you just work wherever, it makes it hard for your mind to switch off at the end of your work day (which, by the way, you should absolutely be doing; consider that tip 12a!). When you’re finished for the day, pack everything up and put it away (or if you’re lucky enough to have a dedicated room, shut the door) and make sure there’s a clear physical and mental separation between your work life and your home life, so that you can recharge your batteries. Speaking of…

(13) If it’s noisy at home, block it out — I have a noisy neighbour with a very noisy little dog, and so if I need to focus I put on noise-cancelling headphones or just listen to music with earbuds to help me concentrate. Sometimes I don’t even bother with the music and I just turn up the noise cancelling to full and sit in the cocoon of silence, which is great until someone taps you on the shoulder and you almost wet your pants. Next…

(14) Have someone you check in with daily (and vice versa) — because we human beings are, for the most part, social creatures and it’s comforting to have regular conversations with other people. If you can’t see people in person, make time for a quick five or ten minute video call (or go super retro and call them on the phone). Don’t let lack of physical connection be the reason why you lose your connections with others. Speaking of…

(15) Be kind to others and to yourself — because when we are kind it tends to attract more kindness to us, which makes life far nicer than having to deal with nastiness and stupidity! And notice how I said to be kind to yourself? Because the way you treat yourself helps to shape your sense of self worth, which I discussed in Episode 78 of the podcast, and besides… if you can’t be kind to yourself, how can you expect others to be kind to you?

And then because I’m feeling extra generous, I have a bonus tip which is…

Talk about it — because the more we talk about it, the easier it gets! You don’t have to go through tough times alone and nor should you, so talk to someone you trust and feel comfortable with (and for more challenging situations, work with a professional like a therapist or counsellor).

Even though this thing feels like it has been kicking about for forever and is having more comeback attempts than an early 2000’s reality TV star, I promise you that all storms eventually pass… like with all things, we just need to take it one day at a time and make the most of every day. The clouds will eventually part.

Want more? Listen to the weekly Let’s Talk About Mental Health podcast on your favourite podcast service (click here for links to different services via Podfollow) and subscribe to my YouTube channel, Better Mental Health, for weekly how-to videos.

Thanks so much for joining me today, take care and talk to you next time!

Jeremy 😃

Jeremy Godwin (@jeremygodwinofficial on Instagram) is an Australian writer, content creator and coach who focuses on better mental health. His weekly podcast Let’s Talk About Mental Health has more than 520,000 downloads and listeners in over 150 countries, and in it Jeremy shares practical advice for improving and maintaining mental health that is grounded in quality research and personal experience. He also hosts a weekly show on YouTube, Better Mental Health, which focuses on simple advice for how to manage different aspects of mental health. Jeremy’s style is direct-yet-supportive, and his own experiences with depression and anxiety (along with his formal qualifications in psychology and sociology) allow him to provide advice that is both impactful and sensitive.

#pandemicfatigue #pandemicmentalhealth #bettermentalhealth

2 Comments

  1. Great article. I have learned even before the pandemic that I do not need or want to watch the news. Too much bad shit happening. Rapes, Killings, missing people, ect. Something I remind myself daily is that I cannot control what other people do or say.

    1. Hi Jessica! Thanks for the message and glad you liked it! That control piece is something I discuss a lot in my podcast, Let’s Talk About Mental Health, because it’s so easy to fixate on things that we have no hope of ever controlling anyway. And very glad to hear from a fellow no-news-watcher! Have a fantastic week 🙂

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