I have been feeling weary. How about you? The metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel is dim and it flickers; a catastrophising thought echoes in my mind “maybe the tunnel stretches on to 2021, 2022!”
The messaging has been loud and clear: we don’t know when the end will be. Daily reports of Covid19 cases has been the norm since the start of the year but coming to terms with why we have to have a “new normal” makes me weary. Mostly compliant by nature, I abide by new rules quite quickly but I’m honestly tired of the uncertainty.
Add on the hypervigilance of ensuring my safety and the safety of others – trying not to go out, minimising prolonged social interactions, ensuring I wash or sanitise my hands often, constantly reminding myself not to touch my face. Couple that with the fear of already having the virus but being asymptomatic while spreading it at home or in the community.
The anxiety and vigilance surely add to the mental fatigue. The resultant lack of focus due to this very fatigue makes it harder to stay vigilant.
Feeling weary: My Head vs My Heart
Cognitively, I comprehend the situation: Something bad has happened; many things are outside of my control so, let me focus on what is within my control; keep calm and carry on.
Emotionally, I experience a lot of reluctance to accept. I feel angry that my life has been held hostage and put on hold because of the uncertainty. Anxious about the virus. Exhausted from trying to be rational about my fears. Absolutely tired of all the bad news coming in from across the globe. Worried about job stability and the livelihood of the population. Sad that my plans for the year are shelved and gathering dust. Feeling stuck in a creative rut on how I could come up with a new formula to experience respite, adventure and joy to nourish my soul.
I am exhausted.
Some of the emotions that I have listed are reactions that people may term “self-entitlement”. Some of the things that bother me could be labelled “first world problems”. Conversations I have had with others about feeling horrible and miserable tended to come under the qualifier “I know I don’t have it worse than blah blah blah BUT…”
People are embarrassed to talk about how they have been affected; there is shame involved in speaking about how bad we feel for a perceived oh-my-goodness-that-is-not-a-problem-there-are-worse-things-going-on.
I call it the “they-have-it-worse” syndrome. We end up comparing and competing who have it worse and that we shouldn’t be feeling bad about our own situation. This syndrome discounts and dismisses our own experiencing. It also exacerbates shame for being in a place of perceived privilege (“if you have time to complain, you have time to do something about it”) and puts us down for not appreciating what we have. Whether it is an external voice or inner critic.
Our experiences are valid
Our experiences are valid and real because they are. That’s it. We do not need to be better or worse off to think what we think, to feel what we feel.
Our emotional experiencing makes us human. Ignoring our pain or dismissing them are unlikely to make us feel better. Being impatient with misery or suffering is unkind.
When we are congruent and can embrace the full spectrum of our emotions, whether they are uncomfortable or not, we expand our capacity to show care for ourselves and others. Regardless of the circumstances or severity of problems.
What I do when I feel weary
One of the techniques that we can employ to lean into our emotions is Tara Brach’s RAIN meditation. This tool helps us access the messages that our emotional experiencing is trying to communicate. I wrote a post about it here.
I’ve understood that my weariness is seeking respite. My weariness is telling me to rest and to recharge my soul by immersing myself in nature more. It is also reminding me to breathe more deeply and to connect with others (hence this post). My emotional exhaustion from Covid19 is coaxing me to reduce consumption of news. My weariness is also indicative of my own vulnerability in a difficult period.
In fact, it has taken me time across 3 days to write this fairly short and simple post. I guess that was the space I needed to process my own emotions and also to practise self-compassion, while juggling an increasingly busy schedule seeing counselling clients. I have a routine/ schedule for writing blog posts but not strictly adhering to it, for my own mental health, is fine too.
I hope this post resonates with some of you and that you would take good care of yourself, when you are tired. If you would like some ideas for self-care, you could take a look at my post for some affordable tips.