"So WHY are we so tired?" C'mon, admit it. If you haven't said that phrase in the past 24 hours you are among a minority of people not feeling the latest effects of the past 22 months.
“Nearly a year into the pandemic, prolonged stress persists at elevated levels for many Americans. As we work to address stressors as a nation, from unemployment to education, we can’t ignore the mental health consequences of this global shared experience,” said Arthur C. Evans Jr., PhD. “Without addressing stress as part of a national recovery plan, we will be dealing with the mental health fallout from this pandemic for years to come.”
What is causing so many of us to feel exhausted?
To get an idea, check out VOX’s video recap of 2021 in 6 minutes. Mandates, shutdowns, information, misinformation, equity, inflation, and constantly being told how to think and respond has gotten us a little jumpy. Also, whether you agree or not, it’s that kind of information (from the video) and that kind of constant programming that has left many of us with a spinning head and our minds confused. The issues we've been facing are not only exhausting, but they have also made us angry and very divisive as well.
Why are we mad? I thought we were just tired?
According to Clinical Psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Lombardi "People have been stressed out for a loooong, loooong time. The stress started out as 'fear' - but sometimes severe stress can turn into 'anger.' That is what we're seeing here."
Dr. Lombardi says angry highly-stressed people will tend to think only their way is the right way and not even consider any alternative. Dr. Lombardi adds, "People a really tired of what's going on. They want positive change and it's just not happening. That fuels the anger and it fuels attacking other people, going against policies, and making up their own rules." (1) When people disagree with us, it's not just an opinion but it ends up feeling more personal. This helps us to understand as well why the issues we are facing have also become so emotional for people.
"After I wake up in the morning, I feel like I need a nap"
A variety of news outlets, blogs, and articles like that in The Record are now reporting that there seems to be a lingering of the effects of fatigue and brain fog in those who have experienced Covid-19 long after their initial diagnosis. So what's going on? Take a look at what Psychology Today says about CVD19 exhaustion: Cortisol, the main stress hormone for humans, comes surging in moments after adrenaline to help sustain the stress response. If you’ve ever jumped from a loud noise only to turn and realize it was just a car behind you backfiring, you’ll notice that the effects of adrenaline wear off nearly as quickly as they come on.
So, what happens if the threat is more sustained? That’s where cortisol takes over to champion the fight for survival. (2) The problem comes in when our bodies continue to flood with Cortisol. Short term adaptations are easier for our bodies to deal with, but it's now been 22 months of this.
Long periods of Cortisol presence triggers a desire for increased sugar intake (2) to replenish the sugars we were supposed to have used to escape the "threat." So it might stand to reason why many of us have increased desire for sweets or may have noticed an increase in weight or diabetic complications. With overexposure to cortisol, we sleep less which exacerbates our stress, anxiety, depressive moods AND even ANGER.
So NOW What? Some Practical Physical Fixes
At home (4):
Make time to consciously rest, repair, and recover. Put a self-care plan in place with things you love and try to set a consistent "shut down" time before you actually turn in. Abstain from a screen for at least 30 minutes to help shut down the brain. Consider this study from the Cleveland Clinic (5) if you think I'm full of hot air.
Exercise. Any movement is good, whether it’s a HIIT workout or a walk around the block. I do at least 20-20 minutes of cardio to get the blood pumping through the brain, it's helped considerably with anxiety/depression as well!
Go outside. Being in nature is one of the best things you can do for your mental health and wellbeing. You're doggo or puppers will thank you as well!
Talk to people you trust about how you feel, join a small gruop, youth group, or support group like Celebrate Recovery! Trey Freeman is an awesome man of God and you'll find others who are willing to walk alongside of you!
Kristin and I have been doing a majority of these things over the past year and I can assure you, they WORK! But it's not just about the physical person, there are spiritual needs that should be addressed as well.
What Spiritual Things Can Help?
It’s a biblical word and idea. Often expressed as endurance or steadfastness, especially in times of persecution, it is the counsel of Paul to Timothy (2 Timothy 3:10), the essence of love (1 Corinthians 13), and at the heart of authentic faith (2 Corinthians 4:9).
“Resilience, perseverance and steadfastness defined the early church in the midst of hardship and cultural rejection.”
Resilience, perseverance and steadfastness defined the early church in the midst of hardship and cultural rejection. Martyrs and saints across the centuries have lived out this idea at great cost and with no small amount of suffering. Our Christian brothers and sisters who live in nations that criminalize the faith are our heroes and inspiration when we consider their tenacity and resilience in the face of genuine persecution.
So we no find ourselves with the necessity to exercise "resilience muscles" that have atrophied from being underdeveloped and underused. There are those in the faith who have gone before us that have shown us the way to endure, survive and even thrive through the challenges that we are currently facing. There are numerous sources of encouragement and guidance that suggest ways to build and maintain deep pockets of endurance and resilience in ourselves and those within our circles.
Not only do a Duck, Duck, Go search of that topic, remember that the Bible is full of such stories and messages of hope. My best contribution is to urge us all to go back to our reason for being and invest our energy and attention there.
Victor Frankl taught us that “when we have a ‘why’ to live, we can bear with almost any ‘how.’”
This last mile and ensuing opportunities and challenges before us can become the moment of rebirth for our faith and within our families and our churches. In fact, if we can endure and persevere the chaos before us, we embody what it means to "persevere in the faith." Focusing first on why we are here and then how we will act. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you the strength to endure and surround yourself with people who will help to not only encourage you, but to help hold you accountable as well. We are in this together! Love you guys and praying for you!
How Do I Know If I Might Be Dealing WIth CVD19 Fatigue?
-According to research published by NCBI (3)
Feeling cynical and emotionally exhausted. Two of the most common burnout symptoms are feeling emotionally drained and cynical about the world around you. ResearchersTrusted Source have observed these symptoms in people who have worked in demanding environments during the pandemic.
Being less effective on the job. Burnout happens when you’ve run out of personal resources. Self-doubt creeps in and, over time, you may not be able to pay as much attention to work tasks. ResearchersTrusted Source have noticed that some people with pandemic-related burnout begin feeling like a failure at work.
Having a deep sense of anxiety about the future. Your anxiety may be related to your own future or the future of your community and the wider world. ResearchersTrusted Source think this anxiety comes from the fact that you can’t predict when the pandemic will end. When things are unpredictable, people often feel they have no control over their lives.
Being less willing to comply with health guidelines. As the pandemic drags on, more people are tiring of restrictions such as mask-wearing and social distancing. Growing tired of inconvenient public safety measures may be natural, but experts say it could prolong the pandemic even further.