According to the Washington Post, the term “pandemic wall” was “popularized by New York Public Radio host Tanzina Vega to capture the particular and sudden feeling of spiritual and emotional exhaustion with life during covid times.”
But that’s just a part of what I experienced. While I’ve had moments of “pandemic fatigue,” the wall I encountered over the past week was more than exhaustion. It was a feeling of not wanting to do anything. Not even things that I typically enjoy.
For me the wall was an emptiness of desire. It was malaise and utter depletion. It was unsettling. Uncomfortable. But it seemed it needed to be there. So here’s what I did to get through this awkward phase:
Talk about it. Sharing unfamiliar andconfusing feelings with someone you trust helps get you out of your head where your thoughts can make you crazy trying to make sense of it. Once I started talking about it, the emptiness or depletion felt less intimidating and my next step became clear to me.
Feel It. While my initial thought was, “I’ve got to fix this,” after talking about my experience, it became clear to me that there was no fixing it. Even numbing out with some TV didn’t sound appealing.
Like any feeling, the more we push it away, the more problems it can create for us later.
So I went to my yoga mat for savasana and allowed myself to feel and be with the emptiness. Letting the feeling flow through my body, after a few minutes, what I discovered was grief. So I gave the grief space to be. I moved into child’s pose and allowed myself to breathe with these sensations for a few minutes, and released some much needed tears.
There were moments of feeling guilty about this grief, because the pandemic has not impacted me as it has others. I’ve been fortunate. But that doesn’t mean I can dismiss my feelings. My grief is still grief. And not allowing it to flow doesn’t make it go away, and doesn’t serve me or anyone else for that matter.
BTW you don’t have to have a yoga mat or do yoga. The point is to give yourself some quite time and space to allow your feelings to flow through the body and breathe.
Write about it. While allowing the feelings to flow helped tremendously, it felt like more needed to be released, so I started writing. Not with the intention to fix anything, but to simply write about what it felt like: what my body was feeling, what my heart and head were feeling. The act of putting this stuff on paper gave me perspective, allowed me to release a few more tears and removed toxic thought patterns from my head.
Get outside! At this point I was feeling a little less despairing. So I went out for a walk. Listening to nature and breathing fresh air always creates a shift for me. Nature is incredibly nourishing if we open ourselves up to all of its beauty and energy. I also felt moved to do some gardening and scheduled a time to do that later in the week.
Do something new. Uncertainty has been a constant weight on us, but what if we turned uncertainty into something fun? Could it instead be an adventure? Like taking a class on something you’ve never learned before, or planning a vacation to somewhere you’ve never been? I signed up for a mushroom growing class and made plans for a future weekend getaway.
Be kind to yourself. We have all experienced trauma to some extent over this past year. Put the inner critic and guilt monster on time outs. Let them know you understand they are trying to protect you, but it’s not serving you right now. Then give yourself a big hug. And remind yourself that this too shall pass.
Moving beyond the wall could take a day, it could take a week. Give yourself the time and space you need to fully process your experience and emotions rather than resisting it or forcing the process.
Have YOU experienced the pandemic wall? Was there a practice that helped you? Share in the comments what healthy activity gave you some relief. And If you’re feeling stuck for more than a couple of weeks, please ask for help! Check out www.betterhelp.com/ to find a licensed mental health professional.