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Accepting the Pandemic Burnout and How to Move Forward

Ways we can manage our mental health to combat the COVID-19 burnout

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pandemic-burnout-rachael-brooks

The real-life Groundhog Day was on February 2. But since then, and before if I’m being honest, everyday feels like February 2. I wake up feeling like I just closed my eyes and hit the ground running, scrambling to fix breakfast, get everyone dressed, put on my daily sweatshirt/leggings combo, whisk my littlest off to preschool, and preparing myself as well as my 5-year-old for yet another day of virtual kindergarten. Get it done. Go to sleep. Do it again. All on repeat.

Now let me make a few important disclaimers: I realize my life could be 100 times worse. I realize that I am so incredibly fortunate to have my two sweet kiddos. I realize that we have the option to stay home and stay safe during this pandemic. I realize all of this. But in my efforts to stay fully honest and transparent, life is wearing on me right now. And also, we should never invalidate our own situations and feelings just because someone else could have it worse. Someone will always have it worse. Someone will always have it better. But we have no control over that.

What we do have control over is validating ourselves and eliminating the comparison to the best of our abilities.

So back to this Groundhog Day business, part of me wants to jet set to somewhere tropical and float in a pool with a drink in hand for two weeks. And then the other part of me wants to wake up naturally, perhaps around 9AM, and then decide if and when I will get out of bed. To then be followed by an entire day of TV binging. A girl can dream.

I think what this boils down to is burnout. A weird type of burnout, but burnout, nonetheless. Despite the mundane nature of our days right now, they are busy in their own way, making them exhausting.

So what do we do about it? For starters, accept these feelings and know that it is totally valid to feel this way. I am the first person to beat myself up over a lack of productivity, letting my kids spend hours on screens, not having a whole week of meals planned out, and the infinite list goes on. But this week, I caught myself. Even better, I caught myself during a therapy session.

I basically started my session saying that I am just blah. I had no other way to describe it. There has been nothing catastrophic, earth shattering, life altering. Just blah. As we dissected this notion further, I began to stumble across some acceptance and grace for myself. It’s ok to feel blah. It’s ok to have no daily plan. It’s ok to pick your clean clothes out of the laundry basket that’s been sitting there for three days. It’s ok to escape through a TV show (side note – I am binging one of my all-time favorite shows, Dawson’s Creek on Netflix right now and reliving my best 90s days). It’s all ok.

Sure there may be some underlying elements of depression to this, which I am no stranger to. I thankfully also notice this and see a psychiatrist regularly, in addition to my therapist. I am basically a walking advertisement for mental health. But again, it’s ok.

The best takeaway from this week’s therapy session was when my therapist said, “the next time you find yourself beating yourself up for feeling blah or not being productive or whatever the case may be, change your tune to say ‘what is one thing I can do for myself?’” It won’t always work out perfectly, but if we don’t at least try, it never will.  Even if it’s going into your closet for 5 minutes while your kids jump on your bed. Just try.

For those feeling blah, burnt out, low, on an endless Groundhog Day loop, I see you. Hang in there and let yourself feel it.

Stay well, friends.

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