By Lisa Jordan
Once officials began putting precautions in place to help flatten the curve of the COVID-19 virus, millions across the country found themselves working remotely from home, getting laid off, or sadly, losing their jobs all together, and becoming their children’s teachers.
With many having unexpected time on their hands, people began making plans—projects around the house, losing weight, learning a new skill, or working toward making their dreams happen. And then they’d feel frustrated when they couldn’t get things accomplished. Time wasn’t an issue—emotional and mental cloudiness held them back.
I blame it on “pandemic brain.”
Our thoughts have been consumed with conflicting news reports, rising statistics, and being thrust outside our comfort zones. So, it’s no wonder we haven’t been able to think and process clearly at times.
Recently, during a video chat with writers from my literary agency, one of my agency-mates, mentioned the phrase “pandemic fatigue.” As she talked about it, I nodded in understanding because I could see it happening with family and close friends.
Pandemic fatigue is fueled by the fear of the unknown. If you’re suddenly unemployed, it may cause you to feel helpless. If you’re used to being around people and you’re suddenly in isolation, that can affect your emotional and mental health.
Fearing for your health or for loved ones can lead to anxiety. These are just a few factors that lead to a buildup in your mind and shift your thought processes into high gear. And all of those combined leads to a fatigued brain and body.
So, if you are struggling with pandemic fatigue, then it’s no wonder you’re struggling to get things done. And probably beating yourself up because you’re not getting as much done as you would like. Each of us processes these situations differently.
I’m not a trained professional, and I don’t claim to have the answers, but I do have a few tips that could help.
- Pray about it. There’s nothing too small or too great that we can lay at the foot of the cross. Jesus invites us to surrender our burdens to him. Not only will he carry them for us but he will help us get through them. 1 Peter 5:7 (NIV) reads, “Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”
- Release your expectations to do more. Friends, we are living in difficult times. Why make your life even more difficult by adding more on your plate than your emotional and mental health can handle? Sure, you may have more time now and you may be able to handle it physically, but that doesn’t mean it is a requirement to get done. Focus on what you need to do for today. Keep it simple. Put away your growing to-do list of projects until you’re better equipped to handle them.
- Give yourself grace. This kind of goes along with my previous suggestion. You need to give yourself grace to be a “be-er” and not a doer. When your mind is consumed with what’s happening in the world today, it can affect you physically. We are entering a different kind of normal. Allow yourself to grieve the loss of your job, a loved one’s health, cancellation of summer and fall plans, and even the way things used to be. Be kind to yourself and know this season will pass.
- Take baby steps forward. With states and counties releasing residents from our shelter-in-place orders, we need to be cautious but not fearful. But that looks different for every person. While I don’t mind a weekly in-store grocery run wearing my mask and using my hand sanitizer, others are continuing to order groceries online. Think about how your life will be affected by these changes and determine your best course of action. Take baby steps and focus on what works best for you and your family. If you’re continuing to struggle, seek professional help. God has gifted counselors with the skills to help you through these unprecedented times.
- Rest in God’s promises. No matter what we are going through in our lives, God is still in control. None of this has taken him by surprise so rest in his promises that he will see you through this difficult season.
As our country transitions into what may be a different kind of normal than what we are used to, breathe, keep your expectations in check, and lean into God. Find your rest in him and allow him to lead you through this dark valley and into the Sonshine.
What about you? How are you managing expectations during shelter-in-place? Are you struggling with pandemic fatigue? How are you working through it?
Bio: Heart, home, and faith have always been important to Lisa Jordan, so writing stories with those elements come naturally. Represented by Rachelle Gardner of Books & Such Literary Management, Lisa is an award-winning author for Love Inspired, writing contemporary Christian romances that promise hope and happily ever after. Her latest book, Season of Hope, released in March 2019. She is the operations manager for Novel. Academy, powered by My Book Therapy. Happily married to her own real-life hero for over thirty years, Lisa and her husband have two grown sons. When she isn’t writing, Lisa enjoys family time, kayaking, good books, and being creative with words, fibers, and photos. Visit her at lisajordanbooks.com