This is something I’ve been hearing so often in recent conversations, and I have to admit that I too have been experiencing bouts of exhaustion over the past few months. So why is this?
Well as we are all aware, over the past 7 months, collectively we have gone through a period of rapid change. In response to the pandemic, much of what we counted on as being stable and secure in our lives has undergone tremendous change. For many of us, the way we earn income to support our families has shifted, our children’s education system has undergone massive transformation, the way we gather and interact with our families and social networks has changed. In a way you could say that EVERYTHING we once relied on as being predictable and steady has been altered. Our foundation has seriously been rocked.
Annnnnd oh boy, nothing causes more distress in our systems than the fear of uncertainty. As human beings, we like to “be in control”... or at least have the illusion that we’re in control. When we’re not able to predict what’s coming next, and so much change is coming all at once, our body naturally turns ON the stress response as a means of self-protection.
Now, under normal circumstances, evoking the stress response isn’t a big deal. For example, if I’m up at our family cabin in Northern Saskatchewan, and I come across a bear in the forest, I’m going to want the stress response to help me out. For single, isolated, life threatening situations, we can easily appreciate the stress response! Here’s the thing though, what do you think happens when our body has been evoking the stress response continuously for 7 months straight without much relief? If you guessed EXHAUSTION you guessed right (along with many other not-so-great side effects).
When it comes to our personal energy, we have what’s known as a personal energy reserve. This is like having an “inner battery”, and this battery provides us with much needed fuel to thrive in our day-to-day lives. During periods of on-going, rapid change, our emotional reactions to the uncertainty we feel (such as fear, worry, anxiety, frustration, and even anger) depletes our personal energy reserve, leaving many of us feeling completely exhausted. We may even find that we lack the energy just to make it through a seemingly “normal” day without feeling like we’re dragging our butts.
If this is you - here’s what I want you to know: What you’re going through is normal! You are definitely not alone, and although you don’t feel great right now, there are things you can do to help yourself start to feel better.
My first recommendation is to start by first honoring and accepting how you’ve been feeling. YOU’RE EXHAUSTED. You’ve been through so much these past 7 months. You’ve been handling all of it as best as you can, but you’re tired and THAT’S OK. Nothing could have ever prepared you for what you’ve been going through, and you’re doing the best you can.
My second recommendation is to start, very gradually looking for ways to: (a) help you better manage your emotional reactions to the stress you’ve been feeling (b) look for ways to renew your personal energy reserve on a daily basis, so you can start filling up that “inner battery” once again.
As a HeartMath Certified Practitioner I always like to recommend some of the awesome HeartMath resources that are available on the website www.heartmath.com. I highly recommend carving out 90 mins one evening, in your cozy pants, to take in The HeartMath Experience (which is a free online video program) which provides 5-essential tools for reducing stress, anxiety, and fear for better mental health. It’s free, and such a great resource!
Also, if you could benefit from some one-on-one skills training or mentoring through this time, please also know that you can reach out to me. Most importantly, my encouragement is to start taking some steps to help yourself through all this uncertainty. I’d love to say that it’s all behind us and much more stable and secure times are ahead, but honestly, we don’t know what’s coming as we make our way through this pandemic, so we need to look at finding ways to help us cope and build up our energy reserves once again.
With love, Dawn.