When the pandemic first began, I didn't think too much of how life had changed because there were - and still are - so many overarching issues that drew my attention. All my classes transitioned into a virtual format, meeting friends and forming connections suddenly came to a halt, and the world was united in the battle against a health crisis. I was and continue to be grateful for the safe situation I was in, but I may also have been overlooking how my own life has changed.
In the past few months, I've noticed burnout on all levels. It took almost a year for our new lifestyle change to catch up to me and for me to realize that changes had to be made. And so if you're reading this and find yourself in a similar place, know that you're not alone. Pandemic burnout is real.
As I try to make adjustments, though, I notice myself wanting to see positive changes faster. When it doesn't happen, I have to remind myself that where I am now is due to compounding events; it wouldn't make sense, then, to feel better right away!
Below are a few things I've tried that have proved helpful as well as a couple that I plan to try. Hopefully, these can serve as coping mechanisms to help you find stability during uncertain times.
1. Watch re-runs of a favorite show
Watching episodes of a show you love can be comforting because unlike in life, you know what's going to happen and you know that it's going to make you feel good. You also have previous positive emotions connected to the show, so that increases its chances of boosting your mood.
2. Invest in a skincare routine
Having any form of routine, for that matter, can be particularly grounding. Whether it's skincare, makeup, organizing, or a morning/nighttime routine, they all have the ability to focus your attention in the present as opposed to other things. Investing in just one of these will naturally enhance that area of your life, but it may also bolster your mental health.
When your brain starts to get saturated with things to do and you find yourself having a shorter fuse, vent in your journal by free-writing. It'll take those jumbled up emotions from inside your head onto the paper and might make it easier for you to understand where you're coming from. Write down literally everything that you are thinking and don't worry about making it neat or grammatically correct - this is just for you and your in-the-moment self-care.
4. Explore a long-lost hobby
Picking up an activity after a hiatus naturally requires some effort, but what may keep most from even trying is their belief that they aren't good enough. That's the key, though: you don't have to be good at it, it just has to make you feel good! Draw badly, paint messily, play off-key, and read just a little because your performance doesn't define you as a person, but it does bring you closer to who you are.
5. Schedule regular check-ins with a loved one
Knowing that you'll always have someone to talk to is wonderful, but knowing when can be especially helpful for some. It helps to give perspective on life's events, gives you something to look forward to, and provides reassurance during tough times. If you can, try scheduling regular check-ins (they don't have to be very long) with someone you trust and who lifts your spirits. Chances are you will find solidarity, validation, laughter, love, or a little bit of both.