Overcoming My Lock Down Lethargy – Here are some tips that work for me.
Posted by: Sue Atkins
Before lockdown, I have worked regularly from home for over 15 years. I have my own dedicated office space, learned that music was my friend, and have three dogs who regularly nuzzle my knees reminding me to walk them.
My working from home routine, prior to lockdown, was to get up around 7:30 write my articles for my website or organisations like Disney or Danone, be interviewed on BBC radio and answer the questions that get sent to me for my regular column for Parents World India.
I also went up to the Disney’s Head Office in Hammersmith every month to film my Facebook Live Tea Parties answering parenting questions live on the sofa.
It gave me structure.
Lockdown has meant my husband and my son and his girlfriend are working from home with me. So, my routines have been disrupted. But I enjoy the company.
We have established some new office space, and we have adapted easily to the impact of our work on each other. This has meant chatting about what our day looks like so we can manage recording my podcast or hosting the webinars I have been invited to present without disruption, handling all the different conference calls and juggling the quiet time so we don’t disturb each other.
There have been some great benefits to this period. I got a new bike so I exercise daily, the house is sparkling, and the garden has never been so weed free and we are spending more time together cooking, and watching great programmes on Netflix.
We often walk the dogs together chatting.
Sometimes I need space, so I walk the dogs in the delightfully named ‘Happy Valley’ and then I have discovered a new guilty pleasure! I have managed to find a lovely local Coffee Shop where I can sit outside in the sunshine having a sneaky banana ice cream with salted caramel sauce – bliss ?
Handling the Negatives
At the time of writing this we have tentatively started to come out of lock down.
But I am not rushing and am taking my time as I think this virus will be with us for a very long time and two of my very good friends have had a really bad time battling the virus – one will never be able to swim again due to the damage to her lungs.
We are unlikely to return to ‘normal’ life for a long time as everything has changed.
We’re all calling this our ‘new normal.’
Some things have changed for the better: like family time, Dads at home reading stories and playing, families eating together, people playing board games and reading.
But some things aren’t easy, simple or quite so positive.
Virtual working is draining, children at home all day are exhausting, relationships get tense, furlough, debit and businesses collapsing are massively stressful.
Holidays are cancelled, we don’t need to dress up for work or dress up to socialise.
We have to get used to living with long term uncertainty.
In a very short time-frame, we have become restricted in what we can do and our routines & habits have been broken or permanently disrupted. In addition to this, we have the added stress of living with the COVID-19.
Research has identified that transition to a new environment and way of living will initially lead us to feel low as we adapt to the new way in which we are being asked to work and live.
I’ve been feeling lethargic.
It’s an usual feeling as I’m usually so highly driven.
For the last 15 years I’ve been on a mission to help families raise happy, confident, resilient children and to help parents create happy childhoods for their children but I’ve been finding it harder to feel motivated.
So, I thought I’d look at why and if I was alone so I googled.
‘Is there such a thing as Lock Down Lethargy?’
Well, according to a new survey there really is.
Almost 90% of UK workers are suffering from some level of lethargy while working from home, according to a new study.
This feeling is a result of the stress we are likely to be experiencing and that for many of us, our daily routines will have changed significantly. This will include the challenges of being a parent, teacher, carer, and employee all at the same time rather than being able to separate them.
For others, such as those living on their own, the monotony of the current circumstance may cause tiredness and result in changes in routine.
So how do we combat lockdown fatigue and get our energy back?
Structure, Exercise, Sleep & Things to Look Forward To.
It is important, wherever you live or wherever you are staying to consider structure, exercise and sleep.
It’s about finding your own sense of balance between structure, exercise, being sociable and spending time on your own to replenish your energy and recharge your batteries and also to tap into yourself.
Why is this important?
Research by the University of North Carolina found that instead of allowing yourself to go into a dark place, it’s important to flip the brain around so you grow from the experience and teach your brain to process the memories differently.
‘The Conversation’ article by Sarita Robinson and John Leach suggests that we should look at lockdown as a phase of adjustment. They suggest that a reflective journal can help us all measure how we are adjusting and will help us look back on how we have felt during this transition. This is important activity to consider – as adjustment will take as long as it takes to become your ‘new normal’ – there is no set time to any transition whether it is redundancy, bereavement, divorce or lock down. It is a personal journey of adjustment.
My Can Do Kid’s Journal;Discover Your Confidence Superpower is really helpful for children as it is bursting with fun activities to build resilience, self esteem and confidence and to help children adjust to all the changes too.
But there are some things you can do to help you navigate the process.
1. The Importance of Structure
To create structure, we need to plan ahead.
We need to think about how our days are structured & to try and keep a routine, or to introduce a new routine that works for each of us. It is the same principle that we all have around brushing our teeth. You do it every morning and evening without even thinking and that way it becomes an easy habit.
Exercise, sleep and structure gives us that feeling of control and wellbeing.
Structure means we plan our days and set a routine. This means we get up at the same time, ‘go to work’, plan sociable times, take regular work breaks, walk the dogs, plan family time, keep in contact with friends and relatives, and maintain our exercise and sleep patterns.
Research shows that getting out into nature every day improves our mood, releases endorphins and improves our serotonin levels (mood boosters) helping us get plenty of natural light which is good for our all-round wellbeing.
Sunlight ( not even sunshine) provides us with a good source of vitamin D and even improves our brain function.
2.The Magic of Exercise
We all know that exercise is good for us and here in the UK the Government has just given an extra push towards bike riding and cutting down on unhealthy snacks that we’ve all probably been reaching for. We even had a ‘happy cupboard’ with biscuits, crisps and chocolate!
We have decided to limit how often we go to the our ‘happy cupboard’ limit what we now put in it and have decided to rename it to change our attitude to it!
Exercise, gardening, walking or cycling don’t need fancy equipment and we know that we need melatonin from outdoor light to help our body know if it’s light or dark because that helps us sleep so set a new not too scary routine around getting outside and getting some exercise to combat lethargy.
It goes without saying that being healthier also helps us if we become ill from Covid as it aids our recovery and improves our immune system.
3. The Importance of A Good Night’s Sleep.
During these different times we’re often not so exhausted from our daily commute so falling asleep maybe a little harder (unless you’ve got young kids!) But getting a good night’s sleep is really important for so many reasons.
Here are 9 benefits of a good night’s sleep:
It improves your attention and concentration. …
Helps with learning and making memories. …
Helps you maintain a healthy weight. …
Keeps your heart healthy. …
Keeps your immune system strong. …
Takes care of your emotional wellbeing. …
Looks after your mental health. …
Reduces your stress levels.
We should try to get around 8 hours of sleep every night. But to get a good night’s sleep we need to plan it and create routines around it so our brains relax and associate bedrooms with sleep.
Charge your phone downstairs to avoid social media creep.
Remove blue lights from your sleeping area which includes TVs, smartphones, monitors or anything else that emits light and sound, and making sure the room temperature is lower than the rest of your home, as this aids restful sleep.
If you like to read before going to sleep, change to a physical book, rather than using an electronic device, as the LED light stimulates your brain and buzzes you up, and doesn’t calm you down.
There are other lots of ways to wind down to prepare to sleep from having a warm bath to meditating. Find what works for you and notice just how good you feel when you’ve had a good night’s sleep.
4. Something to Look Forward To
Lockdown and unlocking is offering us all quite a big challenge and major lifestyle change. Some of it is great & some of it not so great.
But life is not what happens to you – it’s how you embrace it and see it.
There are unique opportunities for us to grow & to discover what’s actually important to us but to do so we need to be happy and healthy, and in these uncertain times we need to make sure we’re structured, exercising and sleeping well and have small things to look forward to – like coffee with a friend, seeing family members or celebrating a birthday.
The learning from the University of North Carolina suggests that we should take the time to ‘flip’ the challenges we face in lockdown and use them positively – in NLP we call it ‘reframing.’
Whatever you call it – embrace it.
Life is difficult, painful, challenging and different but it’s also joyful, magical and special.
Get extra support if you find that you are struggling.
Talk to friends, reach out to your community.
You are not alone – we are all in this together so make some small changes that will reap big benefits to your wellbeing.
I’m off to ride my new pink bike and do some pilates.
Stay safe and keep well.