We are ten months into the year 2021 and it is that time of the year, when there is pressure to meet end of the year deadlines, but the fatigue is slowly but surely creeping in. Not only that, there is also the additional “Pandemic fatigue’, that is and has been plaguing our existence for some time now. The World Health Organisation (WHO) defines pandemic fatigue as “feeling demotivated about following recommended behaviours to protect ourselves and others from the virus.” Almost two years later, exercising, eating right, resting and cultivating resilience are no longer part of the priority list, because getting through the day and the week has become a priority.
Since the onset of the pandemic, we have had to be cognisant and careful about how we interact with people. Constantly remembering the need to stand a specific distance from others, wearing a mask and always washing and sanitising your hands. There have been so many Zoom meetings and you may also be experiencing “Zoom fatigue”, i.e. the tiredness, worry or burnout associated with overusing virtual platforms of communication.
With the advent of time, almost two years later, although the vaccination roll-out is well underway, the threat of the virus is far from being contained. With all of this we may find ourselves tempted to go back to our pre-pandemic habits as a means of regaining the control we lost through the pandemic. This is as a result of “Pandemic fatigue”.
The end of the year is the time where you are trying to keep up and catch up at the same time. Coupled with Pandemic and Zoom fatigue, burnout may be around the corner.
Resting is always an integral part of the solution to combat fatigue, regardless of the type or the cause of fatigue. However, the rest required extends beyond just sleeping and having no plans during the weekend. According to Dr. Saundra-Dalton Smith, there are 7 types of rest required in order to combat the fatigue, feeling drained, tired and sluggish.
Physical Rest, which can be either active or passive. Passive rest can be when you are asleep and active rest requires specific activities in order to refresh and restore the body such as yoga, massage therapy or stretching.
Mental rest, this sudden onset of exhaustion at the end of a day is your body telling you that it needs to mentally rest immediately. This type of rest may require moving away from the exhaustive activity or environment, even if for a brief period – step away from the computer or put away your device, step away from that report, even if for a short period, take a 10-minute break, go for a short walk, or stretch on the spot.
Sensory rest, like any aspect of our lives, our senses also face the risk of being overloaded thus requiring a rest. Sensory rest can be achieved through unplugging your electronics, or moving away from other onslaught of sensory input which could be from fragrances, background noise, etc. Taking other action, conducive to recharging your senses, such as turning the lights off if possible and shut your eyes for a few minutes in order to recharge.
Creative Rest, if you’re feeling creatively drained, trying to force yourself to produce results is counterproductive. Give yourself a break by going on a walk in nature or reading an engrossing book. Surrounding yourself with inspiration can help replenish your drained resources and take the pressure to create off your mind.
Emotional Rest, requires having the time and space to freely express your feelings and cut back on emotionally exhausting activities, such as being a caregiver. This type of rest may require offloading your feelings to a willing listener (family, friend or professional). This offloading may need to be more than a once-off activity in order to be effective and in order to prevent future emotional overload.
Social Rest, in order to experience more social rest, surround yourself with positive and supportive people. This requires you to engage more fully in meaningful interactions where there is no fear of disapproval or rejection. Social rest develops from the freedom to be completely authentic with another human.
Spiritual rest, which is the ability to connect beyond the physical and mental and feel a deep sense of belonging, love, acceptance and purpose.
Our thinking that resting is one dimensional may be the reason that even when you get the recommended 8 hours of sleep, you still wake up exhausted. Life as we know it has been physically and mentally draining. Take the time to evaluate what it is that has been exhausting you and which aspect of your life has been exhausted and take the necessary action in order to address it accordingly.
TEDTALK: Dr. Saundra-Dalton Smith: THE REAL REASON WHY WE ARE TIRED AND WHAT TO DO.
Pandemic fatigue Reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19: Policy framework for supporting pandemic prevention and management: revised version November 2020
Jena Lee, MD: A Neuropsychological Exploration of Zoom Fatigue