We're All Feeling It: The 9 Signs of 'Lockdown Fatigue'

Are you feeling fatigued and unmotivated but don't know who, or what, to blame? You're not alone. 

We all entered 2021 with greater hopes of it being better than 2020 - only to be majorly disappointed by the same outcome. 2021 was supposed to be the year to make up for all the time you lost in lockdown and yet, here you are, stuck in the same ditch. You're working from home (and as a result, working extra long hours), back in the kitchen baking, exercising from home and binge-watching (too much) TV. 

As a result, the effects of lockdown fatigue may have hit you by now in some way or another.

What is lockdown fatigue?

Lockdown fatigue can include the following:

Why is lockdown fatigue happening?

You might have assumed that with so much time spent off of the proverbial hamster wheel in 2020, you'd be energised and motivated to maintain healthy habits in 2021. Instead, you are noticing less stamina and constant can't-be-bothered reactions to tasks big and small. Consider the dot-points above: do they seem like ingredients for a healthy, motivated and energised existence?

In an article for The Conversation, Ian Hickie, Professor of Psychiatry at the University of Sydney and a senior fellow at the Australian National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), said the behavioural consequences of lockdown fatigue are becoming increasingly obvious. The mental health risks associated with lockdown are serious, and are especially dangerous for anyone with pre-existing mental health or addiction issues.

"The real drivers of these substantive health risks are job losses, social disconnection and, for young people, the availability of support for ongoing education and training," Hickie wrote. But when the monotony of lockdown meets the anxiety about the future - when will this cycle of entering and exiting lockdowns end? When will life return to normal? When will we all be vaccinated? 

How can you avoid lockdown fatigue?

Two activities that generally help with fatigue are exactly the two activities prohibited during lockdown: spending more time outside and spending more time socialising with friends. Spend long enough in lockdown and you might decide the risks of breaking physical distancing rules are worth the rewards, but ultimately is it not better to be safe than sorry?

It's important to simply go easy on yourself and the situation in general, says Dr Tim Jones.

"It's really important for people, if they are feeling frustrated or fatigued by what's going on, to be able to look at themselves with a little bit of kindness," Dr Tim Jones told Body+Soul. It's simple advice that still stands. 

"I think it's really important to have that attitude of self-kindness and if we are feeling that we're starting to grate on each other, to make the most of going for a short walk or taking a little bit of time out."

Psychologist Nancy Sokarno previously told Bed threads Journal: "With any concerns regarding mental health, if your thoughts turn towards self-harm or suicide, you should seek emergency services or professional advice immediately. It's also helpful to seek advice if you do feel stuck in a rut and any tactics you’ve tried to get out of it hasn’t helped."

"Sometimes simply voicing your feelings can help make you feel supported and a professional can arm you with coping mechanisms that will allow you to push forward," Sokarno said.

"Lifeline and Beyond Blue are services that provide free over-the-phone counselling with trained experts who can help you to understand your feelings. These services can be instrumental in providing the support you need."

Be kind to yourself and others, and be assured by the fact that you are alone even though it may feel like it. For many people, to varying degrees, 2021 has been just as bad as 2020, and the mere thought of existing feels like trying to run through quicksand. There is no instant fix when faced with the monotony of lockdown, but all you can do is stay strong and look after yourself.

If you are concerned about your health, please contact a medical professional. If you or someone you know needs help, phone Lifeline on 13 11 14, or Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636. In emergencies, call 000.

Did you know 'languishing' is 2021's new burnout? Here's what it is and how to deal with it.

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