Goodbye Covid fatigue – and other fatigues
☀️ I have something important to say, a little psychological balm to soothe your hard-working soul, so I hope you’re ready for a slightly longer, soothing text ☀️
But just before I do that I would like to use the first few lines on saying
I want to say thanks. A big thanks, actually. To everyone who over the past year has invited me to coach you and your staff during the Covid lockdown.
And invited me into your Working From Home workdays for webinar talks, trusting me to provide some insight into the psychological causes of Covid fatigue and help you rebuild a sense of connectedness and confidence.
Thanks to you, and thanks to the inspiration, stories and experiences you shared with me about the challenges and benefits of the first Covid lockdown, I developed my presentation ‘Goodbye to Covid fatigue and other fatigues’, which can now, fortunately, reach a larger audience.
>> Read more about my new presentation here
Because, on the outside, it doesn’t show,
‘The sun is shining, after all’.
And it is, the sun – shining. Above the clouds.
And we have had many sunny days lately.
Most of us have gone out for walks.
And most days we manage
to do everything we can
to keep our own spirits up and the spirits of the people we are close to.
On the outside, most of us still look like ‘ourselves’,
the way we looked before the Covid lockdown last year in February/March.
Well, maybe we put on a few extra pounds, but let’s forget about that for the moment. Inside, something is radically different.
Several things, in fact. Which are not really ‘things’.
Rather, they are ways of feeling, thinking and experiencing ourselves in the world.
The second lockdown in particular affected us,
because we thought we were done.
So with the second lockdown we felt tired, worn out.
In a way, it felt as if
it happened ‘all of a sudden’.
‘Out of the blue’.
And in a way, it did.
Suddenly, most of us felt really tired,
a strange sense of metal fatigue that was new to many of us.
Mostly because we all,
like our ancestors before us, and their bodies, minds and relationships,
have no inherited precedent for handling the historical situation
we have lived through and continue to live through:
a more than one-year-long lockdown of society,
our relationships with family, friends, colleagues, everyday rhythms, habits,
formal and informal relational exchanges.
Tour de France, Ironman, marathon
Before the second lockdown, Covid’s life-and-death scenarios
had brought home to us
that we are mortal.
That is, in itself, a profound awareness to come to terms with.
Besides, most of us were convinced
that, surely, NOW we had completed the pandemic marathons,
Ironman competitions, Tours de France we needed to get through.
NOW, surely, the lockdown would be lifted.
We would be able to return to work, see our colleagues,
bring our professional skills and interactions into play again,
bring back all those important conversations and meetings,
gaze into real people’s eyes.
Not to mention the ability to linger over a drink in a bar,
live it up along the Lakes in Copenhagen,
the river in Aarhus, Jomfru Ane’s Gade in Aalborg,
the beach promenade in Sønderborg, the lakes in Skanderborg, the river in Odense
and in all the cosy little ports along the Danish coast;
you can add your own favourite haunts to the list.
And then came the second lockdown.
And by now, we had exhausted our energy stores.
We had just about given it our all.
Lactic acid was building up in our muscles.
Our strength was spent.
Our reserves almost non-existent.
And it is that combination that has been hitting us for some time now:
the realization of our own mortality,
the experience of failed expectations,
a long and seemingly never-ending race
and, as an added burden: the absence of restorative relationships,
the formal and informal interactions we have relied on as a mirror, all our lives,
without giving it much thought,
and which we never before had to go without.
That hits us hard.
Much harder than anyone can tell from looking at the outside.
So if you have felt just a little of what I have outlined above,
you are not only completely normal.
You are a human being with healthy reactions to a historically unnatural situation.
A situation and a period that have lasted an entire human year.
Because that is what you are, a human being; not a machine.
Time for self-care
So more than ever, it is time for self-care. Self-care in every conceivable way.
Innovative self-care. Whacky self-care. Happy self-care. Singing and dancing self-care. Meditating, running, bouncing. Footbaths with restorative salts, soaking in the tub, healing music, walking barefoot in wet grass, feeling the sand between your toes, the wind in your hair, lying flat on your back and staring at the clouds in the sky, listening to the waves lapping on the shore.
If possible: lots of peace and quiet, calm activities, no multi-tasking. As in NONE. The brain has already been working overtime, now it is time for down-regulating relaxation massage in the form of ONE THING AT A TIME. Imagine that you actually HAD completed several marathons, several Ironman competitions and at least one Tour de France, the latter with good results in the time trial. Because, actually, you have. Don’t forget to give yourself – and the people around you – a pat on the back for these accomplishments. It really is just as magnificently impressive as it was tough, interesting and challenging.
This too shall pass
In my office, I have a sign saying ‘This too shall pass’.
I keep my fingers crossed that Covid, too, shall pass.
Meanwhile, let’s make the most of it. We deserve it.
My next newsletter will be about what it may be helpful for both leaders and employees to focus on post-Covid, as we return to work, in order to promote psychological well-being. And I’ll offer some colourful ideas for how you can practise a high level of self-care while achieving an equally high – and, for many, surprising – level of growth and development in the area of leadership and self-leadership. Stay tuned!
With my best wishes for each of us, and all of us together, to give while we grow and to help each other continue to find strength, courage and meaning.
Many sunny regards,