This is Part 2 of my Introvert’s Survival Guide for Pandemic Fatigue blog series. Read Part 1 here.
A few weeks ago, I started noticing that my drive and motivation were at an all-time low. I was also having a hard time dragging myself out of bed in the morning, was fighting brain fog throughout the day, and frequently felt on the verge of tears without fully knowing why.
Now, I’ve never been a morning person, but I’ve always considered myself to be highly self-motivated, and I’m also typically able to get to the root of why I’m feeling a particular emotion. During these few weeks, I felt disconnected to who I am at my core and couldn’t figure out what was going on—until my husband finally suggested that I might be suffering from mild depression.
This isn’t something I typically struggle with, so that caught me off guard. But I quickly realized he was right—and that losing things to look forward to was part of the reason.
Although I’m an extreme introvert and love spending the majority of my time at home, I’m also a planner and love experiences. Throughout my life, I’ve used the anticipation of an upcoming adventure or connection with a friend as a source of joy, and also as a major coping strategy.
According to this article, “Much of life’s joy is wrapped up in expectation—in looking forward to a new adventure, a new enterprise, a new something. When life is stripped of anticipatory joy—when people can no longer make plans with confidence or look forward to vacations, weddings, or other happy events—they tend to struggle emotionally and psychologically.”
So, as it turns out, this is a normal coping strategy that can help us calm anxiety and overwhelm, feel more hopeful, and focus on something positive and exciting. Remember, what you focus on you feel.
Although there are still limitations to what we can plan and do, it is possible to create things to look forward to. Sometimes the smallest things can bring us the greatest joy.
Here are a few ideas:
- Go on a road trip. It may not seem safe to fly yet, but if you haven’t gotten away since the pandemic began, you’ll be amazed at how much you’ve needed the reset and the change of scenery—I’m speaking from experience! A weekend away is ideal, but a day trip can give you something to look forward to as well.
- Plan something to do outdoors over the weekend. Go on a hike, visit a state park—find somewhere new to explore, or revisit somewhere you haven’t been in a while. The goal is to get something on your calendar to get you out of your typical weekend routine.
- Learn something new. Not all of us have more time these days, but I know many do, and this could be the perfect time to finally learn that new ____ you’ve been talking about for years, take an online course, or even read that book that’s been collecting dust on your shelf.
Take Advantage of This Time for Personal Development
Speaking of learning something new… this quieter season of our lives could also be an incredible time to do some of the personal development work that we may not have had the mental space to do before.
Pre-COVID life had an unlimited supply of distractions and escapes, so we could more easily bury our negative, uncomfortable emotions with excitement about the next fun thing on our calendars. Perhaps it’s time to finally face some of the deep wounds and past hurts that have been simmering below the surface, waiting to teach us what we’re supposed to know.
This is exactly what I did after my husband helped diagnose my mild depression. After gaining the awareness that I was disconnected from myself, I focused on ways that I could reconnect: I carved out some time to spend alone with my journal and just started writing.
Writing has always been my go-to for processing and working through things, especially the deeper stuff, and this is true for many introverts.
Journaling took me to some unexpected and often uncomfortable places, but it’s helped me understand the source of some deep hurts from my years in LA that have been impacting me in Georgia. Even more importantly, it helped me let go of that hurt, which wasn’t serving me at all, and feel so much lighter.
When it comes to our deepest feelings, like sadness, hurt, and regret, the only way out is through. The only way to release these emotions is to give ourselves time to process, uncover where they’re coming from at the deepest level, and then feel our way through them to the other side.
There’s a reason and often a lesson behind everything we feel, and this can be the best season to work and feel your way through, while we still have a little (or a lot) more space in our lives.
Read my new Survival Guide to discover all six of the strategies I’ve been using to fight pandemic fatigue and feel better.