There's A Totally Legit Reason You're Feeling So Burnt Out This Week
Earlier this week, in the middle of a particularly bleak day of feeling totally drained, I wondered why - out of everything that's happened since March - it was now that I felt the most sh**tty?
Over the last couple of weeks, all I've wanted to do is sleep more, I'm struggling to find the energy to complete the smallest of tasks, and motivation to exercise and socialise is completely AWOL. I can't even keep on top of texting people back.
I feel completely burnt out, but I've barely done anything.
In a quest to find out why, I did a quick poll of friends and family and - surprise, surprise - I found the large majority felt the same.
"I feel so drained, but I just don't know why. I just feel like I can't be bothered to do anything," said one friend.
Another agreed: "I feel like I put all my energy into getting through these last six months, with the prospect that if we pulled together and cracked on, this would all be over by now. Or at least it would feel much better. Now it's not - in fact - it looks like we're going back into it somewhat."
It seems like we've all put so much emotional energy into simply surviving 2020 that to put it bluntly, we're exhausted.
But as TV psychologist Emma Kenny explained when I spoke to her this week, "that's okay - and normal".
"There's an area of your brain called the prefrontal cortex which is for high functioning thinking, but the one thing it struggles with is any kind of anxiety or stress which is meant to be momentary," she told Tyla.
"So, your prefrontal cortex gets impaired by the stress [...] which leaves you feeling anxious, overwhelmed, exhausted and lethargic. And when it's consistently impaired, it makes you feel like you're out of sorts.
"On top of that I think we're all missing home - whether that's being surrounded by the people we love but also the streets we recognise, the cities we love, our normality."
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For as long as I can remember, I've always seen September as being a fresh start, a new season. Growing up, it marked the new school year, full of new experiences and challenges. Buying a new pencil case felt as good then as buying a new winter coat does now. Added to that, it's the beginning of the run up to Christmas (aka the best time of year).
There's something about September; it just feels good.
But this year is markedly different. With the novelty of working from home wearing off, the prospect of a Christmas spent playing charades over Zoom and the - dare I even say it - idea that this could continue on into next year, this month doesn't feel like a fresh start at all.
In fact, it feels like the beginning of another uphill battle, one we've collectively endured far too much of this year. But Emma explains there are things we can do to move out of this mindset.
"It's completely rational to not want to go through this again," she told Tyla. "People are feeling like they don't have the emotional capacity to manage it and I think there's a recognition of trying to protect our futures, the economy, and get back to some normality.
"However, you never think you can achieve something until you've gone through it, it's just the way we are. We always have this anticipation fear. It might not be nice but you will survive. The main thing is to focus on the every day things you can control.
"Don't think about the long-term problem, think about the short term solution which is having power over your individual day. How can you take the small wins? For example, the things you can be grateful for, the people you can spend time with, the food you enjoy, they are really important.
"Even though things might change for a period of time, in the end it will return to normal. And the other thing is, sometimes I think in the midst of chaos, we create the most change and growth. There's a lot of positives you can take."
For now, I'm focussing on the one thing that always cheers me up - hunting down a new winter coat and dreaming about my first pumpkin spice latte of the year (coming to Starbucks next week FYI)...
Featured Image Credit: Unsplash
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