Emotional fatigue is a reality and can happen to any of us.
The world is always changing. Change can be difficult for anyone. It takes us out of our comfort zone. But this time, Covid 19 came unexpectedly, rapidly, and uninvited.
In a matter of months, we have had to make real changes to our daily living. Some of these changes were externally controlled, some were internally motivated, but no matter which, life as we knew it has changed dramatically.
Our emotional engine is on overdrive. No sooner do we adjust to a new way of living when suddenly it changes again. We are constantly shifting gear. The uncertainty leads to anxiety. Isolation leads to loneliness. The sudden losses lead to depression. A tsunami of feelings leads to emotional fatigue.
Our emotional engine only drives so hard for so long without breaking down. Emotional fatigue is a reality and can happen to any of us. When external fear and anxiety, and internal fear and anxiety, are constant, something has to give. No matter how prepared the car is for the journey, you’ll only drive it hard and at max for so long before a red light comes on.
We all have to pull over for fuel at some point. Do we put our foot on the break early or late? We’re taking a risk if we’re running low on fuel but we choose to wait until the next exit to pull over. It makes sense to make the choice to put fuel in while we have the choice. Otherwise, the choice will make us.
We cannot control what is happening outside of us, but we can change what’s going on inside of us. That’s the only thing we can ever control, our response to every situation. When we’re already overloaded with external information, added to internal anxiety and stress, we’re overloaded with emotional fatigue.
Our mind can be our greatest friend or our worst enemy. Just as the body needs to be nourished, so does the mind. Our brain will digest the information we feed it. We’re heading back into another lockdown. It can feel overwhelming. There is so much fear generated externally and internally. Now, more than ever, we need to do all we can do to minimize emotional fatigue.
I remember breaking my leg years ago. As shocking as that was for me, I remember the further shock 18 months later when I broke it again. I was devastated. I’d need to go through that recovery all over again. But the disappointment passed. I realised I wasn’t in the same position that I was in when I broke it initially. This was a different break. I was in a different position, with different choices. I had information on what I needed to do and what would be helpful or unhelpful.
I am not attempting to draw a comparison between a broken bone and what’s happening in our world today – I’m merely trying to point out that trauma is trauma. Every trauma is a shock and recovery needs to take place, but no two events can ever be the same. The psychology of a second lockdown is similar to the psychology behind my fears back then. We know what we’re facing into. But it’s not the same.
This is a different lockdown than the first. We are all carrying the memory of the last lockdown going into this one. It fills us all with anxiety. No one wants their movements to be restricted. No one wants this virus. But it is here. We cannot contradict science. We will all do what we need to do to protect ourselves and those around us. Using common-sense will keep us safe.
We use the same common sense we would apply when approaching anyone with a contagious virus. We would practice hygiene standards, keep a safe distance, and do what we need to do to avoid further contamination. Our opinions on whether the restrictions should or shouldn’t happen, will not stop a virus from spreading. But what those opinions can do is influence the minds of people who are already filled with anxiety.
We’re on information overload. It’s coming from all angles at people who are already frightened. When we are filled with fear, we cannot think straight. Am I doing the right thing? Which information do I act upon? Not everything we read on social media is the truth. If you’re looking for information, ensure it comes from a reliable and accountable source. We can start debating which way we should be doing this, who got it wrong, who has it right, but the truth will still be the truth. There is a contagious virus out there. We don’t want to contract or spread that virus. For certain members of our society, that virus could be fatal.
We can sort out who got it right or who messed up afterwards. But for now, do what you need to do to keep you safe. Give attention and priority to your emotional wellbeing this time around. Begin eliminating as much fear and anxiety from your mind as you possibly can. Do what you need to do to bring you peace of mind. Others’ opinions don’t matter: pay attention to your inner wisdom. Common sense will get us through this. It’s hard to use our common sense when we are emotionally fatigued, so make the elimination of your fears your priority.
The one thing you can take control of right now is your mind. One day at a time, one task at a time, one thought at a time, one step at a time, one foot in front of the other. It won’t be forever. If you’re reading this, you got through it before, and we’ll get through it again. Learn from before. What helped you, can you keep that up? What stressed you, can you move towards eliminating that?
Turn off the news for a bit. The brain has to digest what we feed it. We’re all emotionally exhausted already without adding more to an already overworked brain. Take a day at a time, a task at a time, a thought at a time, a breath at a time. Focus on your emotional well being. Connect with who and what feeds your soul. Don’t get caught up in other people’s fears and opinions. Do what you need to do to care for you and those around you. Focus on feeding your mind what brings some laughter and joy to your life right now.
But most of all, be kind. Especially for yourself. For what you give to you, you will ultimately give to others. Take stock of what you’ve done to get through this pandemic so far. We’ll get through it again. Focus on staying as emotional well as is possible right now. The most important thing right now is to stay safe – in mind, body and soul.
The language we use has a huge impact on the brain. It takes it as truth and believes the language we feed it. Even the word “lockdown” suggests imprisonment. We are not in jail. We are facing very restrictive movements in our world, none of us is happy about this, but we have a creative brain. Don’t put the key to your thinking in someone else’s hands.
We can come up with new and temporary solutions to our limited movements for a while. The only prison most of us will ever be in are the prisons we create in our minds. Be careful of the language we use. There are small people and vulnerable others who’ll hear this language, take it as their truth, and be further frightened. So are we on “lockdown” or are we taking an “information overload” break to re-evaluate our lifestyle choices?
Let’s keep the focus on what’s going on under our own roofs than what’s going on all around us at this time. How can I support the people that I love around me? How do I build on the relationships with family, friends, and significant others in my life? How do I keep my own house in order? How can I bring a sense of hope to those who have lost hope? What are the changes within the self that I need to face? Where do I need to find change within self? What have I been avoiding for years that has raised its head again? What have I handed my peace of mind over too in my life?
The therapists at Alethea have been working through these months to provide services to those who seek our support. We want to remind our service users that we are on this journey together. Everyone’s survival needs are been threatened. It generates fear. We want to remind you that none of our clients will be left unsupported. If your financial situation changes, then so does ours. We’ll work it out together. We want to be a part in supporting you through this. Do not allow yourself be any more emotionally overloaded thank you already are.
Breathe, stay in the moment, try to change your mindset into hope rather than fear. Try to eliminate the information overload, try to get into some kind of a regular routine for yourself, try to shift your focus to the beautiful things you see today, even if it’s a hello from a stranger. Try to eliminate the negative information overload that’s happening in our world right now. Watch how people bring information to you. If it’s fear-based, remove yourself. Take care of what you and others feed you. Just remember, if you eat it, you’ll have to digest it.
Focus on your emotional wellbeing. Do what you need to do to remove emotional fatigue in your life. YOU are not alone. If we cannot support you, we will support you in finding the services that can. Stay emotionally well and safe. The day will come when we are back together. Until then, remember that we are still here if and when you need us.
We are not on “lockdown”: we’ve found creative ways to stay connected with our service users. We have had online groups throughout the months to offer support to people weekly. Don’t hesitate to contact us for details. Stay safe and emotional well out there. Do every single thing you can do to eliminate emotional fatigue from your life. You’re worth it!
Emotional fatigue is rampant in our society right now. It is a silent killer. Do not allow yourself to become a prisoner within your own mind. Do what you need to do to minimize emotional anxiety. Reach out if you are struggling, we do not have to suffer alone.
Put your foot on the break. Pullover and let the engine rest to cool down. Refuel the car. When you’re rested and nourished, get back behind the wheel of that car. You’re the driver. You get to choose the route and destination. Who and what will keep you company along the way? Do your passengers want to reach the same destination as you? Are they able to drive if you get tired? When you need to sleep will they stop to refuel? So many choices!
Make the ones that are right for you. Choose to pay attention to the emotional wellbeing before the red light comes on. Make healthy choices while you have the choice, don’t wait until the choice makes you!
As Caitriona, a dear friend and colleague of ours at Alethea said to me this morning, “I’m going to control what I can control, and focus on my own little nest around me”. I don’t know about you, but I thought that’s a lovely and very comforting picture to leave you with. We cannot save the world. But in saving ourselves we’re in an emotional energized place to support all around us.
You can contact our services on 016204111, or our therapists directly:
Norah Finn – 0851277002
Catherine Noonan – 087 746 1941
Una Aherne – 087 294 8338
Caitriona O Neill Boyd – 085 127 3814
Bernie Sammin – 085 758 5546
We’re sending all our love and best wishes out to you all. Stay safe and emotionally well. Stay connected to self and others, in an emotionally healthy way.