Everywhere we look in the media, there are articles and images about the current burnout and tiredness people are feeling. The uncertainty and change that COVID has created over the past 18 months have left many people feeling exhausted. It seems ridiculous, given that we’re mostly just hanging around at home (thanks lockdown, we’re looking at you). But the reality is that people are reporting that their sleep is more disturbed, their anxiety is higher and that they are working longer hours than ever.
Part of the problem is that we aren’t getting the opportunity to refuel in the same ways we normally would. Travel is limited. Gyms are often closed. We can’t gather with family and friends at restaurants and in parks like we used to. Weddings are often off the table.
While we know that the vaccination rollouts will increase our freedom as time passes, that doesn’t address our need to re-energise and refuel right now. So, what can we do to feel refreshed? Here are a few ideas.
- Take mini breaks – There is much research to indicate that short holidays are really good for us. If you are in lockdown, plan your mini break so you’re ready to book when the time comes. Traditionally, there’s been a view that it can take a few days to wind down and relax. Apparently not! It turns out that a ‘micro-cation’ (a trip that lasts fewer than five nights) can deliver those restorative effects that we normally associate with longer trips, such as better sleep, relaxation and disconnect from work. One study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies shows that people felt both physically and mentally better after just two days on holiday. A long weekend away, even if it’s local, rests your brain and helps you feel healthier, happier and more energetic. From a work perspective, it also increases productivity and helps prevent burnout. The added bonus of short trips is that you can spread them throughout the year and therefore reap the benefits of multiple holidays.
- Disconnect – The addiction to email, social media and our growing collection of devices is real. And little wonder, seeing as we are spending more time than ever in front of our screens: texting, emailing, Zooming, reading, gaming, shopping, dating, studying – you name it, we’re doing it online. Throw in some Netflix binging and hours lost to Instagram and it’s safe to say we’re hooked. We all know that the blue light from screens stimulates us and we need to avoid it before bed, but what happens when you take a more drastic detox step? A study published in The Journal of Social Psychology found that people who stayed off Facebook for just five days exhibited lower levels of the stress hormone cortisol than those who didn’t. Other studies have reported a significant decline in depression symptoms after a break from social media use or smartphone use in general. A good old book it is then!
- Fuel your body – Annoying health experts tell us that whatever our body consumes should be for the purpose of fuel and nourishment, not pleasure. What?! The foodies reading this are already scrolling past. If, like many others, you’ve been eating and drinking differently whenever lockdown throws your routine off course, give some thought to the last time you woke up feeling refreshed. Give your body a rest by eating whole, unprocessed foods; drinking lots of water; and only putting into your body what you know it needs to be clean, nourished and properly fuelled.
- Have a new experience – Much of the exhaustion people are feeling stems from the monotony that comes with working from home and having a limited repertoire of leisure activities at your disposal. So do something this weekend that you’ve never done before. Find a way to go to a new environment, or hang out with different people and have different conversations. Our brains thrive on newness and it taps into our inner child – not to mention, research shows it can keep our brain healthy and reduce the risk of developing conditions such as dementia. It doesn’t have to be big and it doesn’t have to cost money. Cook something brand new at home, drive to a national park that you’ve never visited before, try a new sport, or start a side hustle. Novelty is key.
- Holiday at home – Part of why we holiday is to let go of routine and rules. Holidays are often the permission we need to tap into the inner child. Do the things at home that you would normally only do when you’re away. Let the children have ice cream for breakfast, and you too. Play your favourite road trip playlist and sing out loud. Pretend you are in your favourite holiday location and Uber Eats the type of food you enjoy when you’re there. Put up fairy lights and sit outside. Think about your holiday rituals and bring them to life at home.
No doubt you know by now that we love a good TED Talk, so here’s a playlist to keep you going whenever you’re feeling burned out. Enjoy!
- The Coach Place Global.
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