In the midst of the pandemic we saw an incredible increase in awareness around mental health. We started engaging in real conversations around the impact that lockdown, working from home, furlough and health concerns were having on our mental state. We discussed our struggles day in, day out – and there was some feeling that all of these would be resolved once COVID was ‘over’ and there were no more restrictions. Then we would go back to our normal selves again. In a way, I feel as though I was naïve to think that was going to be the case.
Personally, I was fortunate enough not to struggle as much as others did during the various lockdowns. Like many, I found the first a novelty, living back at home with the family, away from my London flat. Then I continued to have a lot to be thankful for, whether that was a blossoming relationship, a successful career taking shape, and my physical health had never been better. There were so many positives outweighing the negatives. Yes there were tough times over the past couple of years, but they were few and far between. Fleeting moments of feeling down where thoughts like ‘this will be over soon’ or ‘we just need to get through the next couple of months’ stifled the true impact this was all having. As much as we addressed and discussed the issues we were facing during the pandemic, I feel as though it is only now that many of us are starting to feel the long-term impacts this has had.
Burnout. A word we’ve seen circulating our newsfeeds for some time now. But what exactly does it mean?
The key word there being prolonged. Over the past few months we’ve been expected to juggle moving back into a normal world, thinking that we can just switch back to the way things were. But with increasing demands such as constant plans due to the excitement of not seeing others for months on end, whilst continuing to work excessively, this new reality is some what exhausting. Some of us, myself included, have moments where we are struggling to do it all.
Although commonly associated with work, burnout can be caused by a multitude of things. For example, I’ve found that trying to fit everything back into my life at once and trying to put 100% into every aspect from working out, to friendships, to work, extremely tiring. It wasn’t until I realised that I stopped needing to be so hard on myself, and recognising that I can’t accomplish everything, that I have started to look ahead and realise that sometimes sitting and doing nothing is the best thing you can do for yourself.
This isn’t something that happens overnight, this takes months to rear its head. But what is important to remember, is that so many people are experiencing this right now and taking the time you need early on can really help the long term impact. If you’re feeling exhausted, less enthusiastic, distant or reduced performance – it’s key to address these and take time back for yourself, recognise what is causing this and discuss with friends and colleagues.