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Occasionally since the COVID-19 crisis began to really escalate, I found myself feeling really unmotivated and exhausted throughout the day. I felt frustrated that I was experiencing such a big energy and mood slump. While there was some residual stuff that contributed to this from BC (Before Corona), I probably was a little hard on myself.
It wasn’t really until last weekend when my husband went out and did the grocery shopping for us, my elderly grandparents and his own parents (over 70) that I completely realised just how draining all of this really is. He had come home and about an hour after packing our own groceries away he was passed out fast asleep.
I had a lot of compassion for that fatigue.
Nothing can be taken for granted anymore. A ‘simple’ trip to the shops (even for many items in several instalments) can be a big deal. But when you add the level of preparation and vigilance required to carry out that task safely, it is no wonder a trip to the supermarket can make us feel like we’ve just climbed Mt Everest!
Mentally, we are all on edge. We are constantly scanning for danger. We are sanitising, wearing gloves, working hard not to touch our faces, thinking about the last things we did touch and the last times we washed our hands. We think about how to get things safely into our houses and vehicles. How to make sure that when we reach our destination, we can stop the potential invasion of the virus from entering our homes. We are washing clothes, having showers at weird times, wiping our cars and benchtops, thinking about all those things we have read about how long the virus can sit on different types of surfaces.
The excitement about receiving online deliveries is now not the type of excitement it used to be. It’s a can of Glen 20. Maybe gloves. Hands washed. The assumption that the box your goods arrived in, as well as the goods themselves might be infected. It’s wiping things down and trying to decide whether everything must be disinfected within an inch of its life. It’s wondering what every single person along the chain has done. The retail store environment, the person who packed the items, the person who delivered them. You just pray they are vigilant too.
Sometimes I think oh, for fuck’s sake. The virus is very contagious but the odds of every single item being touched by an infected person versus my level of caution is a bit ridiculous. But then I think…IS IT?? I cannot take the risk!
Every single person that leaves our home for essential reasons has the potential to contract the virus. It’s stressful!
My husband has nominated himself as our family grocery buyer. His reasoning is that he is very fortunate to work for an employer where he has sick leave, income protection, an allowance for quarantine if required, a pretty stable job. If he gets sick we are all still somewhat provided for. We do not take this for granted. He says if I get sick, nobody can care for our children so that he can work, meaning he’d have to burn through his entitlements too fast, not allowing for further infections throughout the family. It’s a little grim thinking about these worst case scenarios.
If I did not have children, I would probably enjoy the solitude somewhat. I’d do home work outs forever, write a lot and become the best self care guru (although it can be hard fighting off anxiety when you don’t have distractions like a toddler that REALLY wants to eat a banana NOW). But I’m worried about my kids too. Their social development. Their levels of mental stimulation and physical activity each day. While it can feel safe inside our four walls (and backyard), it is tiring being trapped.
I am not writing this in order to have a big whinge. I know that there are a lot of people out there doing it even harder. No guaranteed income, worries about their future, vulnerable people, grieving people who cannot attend funerals, frontline workers who are our heroes putting themselves at risk every day in precarious situations.
We just have to stick to ourselves and we are fortunate enough to do that for the most part. I don’t mind making sacrifices like that for the greater good.
What I am writing this for is to remind myself and anyone who reads this, that it’s OK to be really tired after doing the most ‘simple’ tasks. It’s OK if your stamina does not feel like it is what it was BC. Because we have to take into account all of the extra little measures we are taking in order to do those tasks. The mental load is out of this world (and that’s coming from a mum)! Don’t be hard on yourself if you’re not as ‘productive’ as you thought you would be in isolation. Don’t freak out if you’re tired when you feel like you ‘shouldn’t’ be (ie if you are generally physically and mentally healthy). These are not normal times. This is emotionally, mentally and physically draining. It will pass (as I keep trying to remind myself over and over while also accepting this situation for what it is in the efforts of being a well adjusted person – see – mental load)!
I am a chronic over thinker. It’s crazy to think that these ‘skills’ I have are now essential (OK so that’s an annoying word now haha). Maybe I have overthinking fitness, but for a lot of people it’s a hard thing to wrap their heads around because we are usually encouraging ourselves and others to be more relaxed and to let more stuff go. Now we have to be borderline paranoid about almost everything. I truly feel for those who legitimately suffer from mental illness and who are perhaps triggered badly by these world events. It must be hell.
So be kind to yourself. Take it as easy as you can. Listen to your body. It’s OK to be tired.