Quarantine Fatigue Is Real - Here’s How to Deal With It
Yes, corporations are watching their bottom lines closely and thinking creatively to generate income during the pandemic. We’re evolving long-standing business models and being nimble, and it has been tough work.
But the hardest part of this pandemic has nothing to do with budgets. For me, it came about three weeks into the shutdown — quarantine fatigue.
As an extroverted single mom and CEO, I’m used to the exhaustion that accompanies an absolutely packed schedule. But this was different — increased irritability, stress, and anxiety, eating more or less than usual, trouble sleeping and getting motivated, and racing thoughts are just a few of the things I’ve experienced during the pandemic. The Cleveland Clinic classifies these patterns as signs of quarantine fatigue.
Between the stress of remote work, kids at home, lockdowns, reopenings, and potential health issues, we’re facing a new kind of exhaustion — an emotional one that many of us aren’t used to. Behavioral health therapist Jane Pernotto Ehrman says it best:
It’s like we’re in the middle of the ocean. The ocean is COVID-19, and we’re not seeing land anywhere. It’s that feeling of helplessness. Like there’s nothing you can do — or you can do everything right and still get sick.
The unique challenge working mothers face.
In February 2020, women officially accounted for more than 50% of the non-farm labor workforce. Yet research shows that married women still take on almost 70% of childcare responsibilities during the typical workday. When the pandemic hit, those responsibilities multiplied.
Let me paint a picture that’s probably familiar: You’re coordinating new ways to manage your company and your career, working to engage your team and keep spirits high while managing every other duty that existed before COVID-19 — in the background, your kids are circling. They need attention, entertainment, education, and help managing their own emotions about the changing world. You’re cooking more, and you’re working later. You haven’t even left the house, but you’re more exhausted than ever.
Well, enough is enough. We all need to be kinder to ourselves during this pandemic. For me, that meant accepting that I only have so many hours in the day and so much energy to give.
Everyone is struggling to manage the emotional toll of this pandemic. Coupled with being a caregiver and career woman, it can feel impossible to take on anything else. Thankfully, there are ways you can take care of yourself and mitigate this downward spiral.
1) Get up and move.
Movement is important, and I’m not just talking about the kind that involves chasing your kids around or getting up and down to grab snacks. You’d be amazed at what twenty minutes of walking, jogging, biking, or any cardio — or an at-home workout using the endless number of fitness apps begging for your attention — can do for improving your state of mind and your health. On the topic of health, don’t forget to take care of yourself by getting a flu shot.
2) Set mealtime alarms.
We’ve all done it: gotten so busy, looked up at the clock, and realized we haven’t eaten all day. To avoid this scenario, set a few alarms to remind yourself to eat. You’re human, and you need fuel. You might have frequently skipped lunch at the office, but you have a fantastic opportunity now to unplug, sit down, and share a meal with your family.
3) Appreciate family time.
Speaking of family, you likely wished you had more time to spend with them before this pandemic. You’re likely at home more than ever before, so fully embrace these moments you get to spend with your loved ones under your roof. And for distant family, fire up Zoom for something other than the 10:00 AM sales call. Talking with people you care about is a balm that can heal any stressful day.
4) Enjoy the fresh air.
The weather is still lovely in many areas, so take advantage of the fall and soak up some vitamin D — which has been shown to increase serotonin and improve our moods — before we have to hibernate in the winter months. If you don’t absolutely need to be on video during a meeting, walk around the block and connect while using your headphones. You could also spend some time outdoors replying to e-mails or eating your lunch.
5) Detox from screens.
Turn off the news, meditate, listen to music, dance with your kids, and be kind to yourself. Avoid constant, endless scrolling through social media if it’s not doing your mental health any good. And instead of screen time before bed — which promotes wakefulness — read a book, practice reflection, or try a muscle relaxation technique.
Remember to be kind to yourself. This is a uniquely challenging time, especially for working mothers. When quarantine fatigue runs rampant, it’s important to take a step back and do what we can to care for ourselves. When we do that, we can better care for our families, companies, and communities.
Alison Gutterman is the president and CEO of Jelmar, the family-owned cleaning products manufacturer of CLR and Tarn-X products. She began her career at Jelmar in 1993 without a title or a desk, and in 2007 was named its president, bringing the company unprecedented success with her modern approach and leadership techniques. She also balances work with parenthood as a single mother of two children, and she resides in the greater Chicago area.
Have more questions? Follow up with the expert herself.
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