Raise your hand if you are bone tired.
Like no amount of exercise or self-care or time off or sleep will help. The kind that leaves you in a fog and you wonder when you’ll ever get out of it.
Yeah, me too.
It’s been a rough 14 months and while things are certainly getting better, the fog has not yet lifted.
There is a reason for this and there is something you can do about it.
Self-Care Is the First Step
As much as I hate to admit it, Ken Jacobs wrote a compelling piece for Spin Sucks a couple of weeks ago.
Titled How to Be a Stellar Leader When You’re Exhausted, it’s been on my mind since it was published.
This is a very real thing—it’s hard to lead a team when you’re constantly in a fog and being pulled in a million directions because kids are still learning at home, there aren’t camps to send them to this summer, and your team feels the same way.
I said to him:
What are you advising your clients to do right now if they’re exhausted and in a fog and having a hard time leading themselves, let alone a team?
And so his article was born.
In it, he talks about all of the things every one of us should be doing: a deep dive on self-awareness, practice self-care, double down on empathy, and almost fake your way through energy if need be. It is, after all, contagious.
I agree with all of these things‚ and work hard to practice every one of them daily.
Yet, the fog is real, y’all.
I have to force myself to read and write most days—things I typically adore and do without thought.
The exercise has been rough, too, but I do it, even when I want to just use that time to scroll aimlessly through Instagram.
And I stopped getting up with an alarm because I read that was one of the best things you can do for yourself in times like these.
Sleep is of utmost importance and I love me some sleep!
But It’s Not Enough Right Now
Even still, it’s been 14 months since I’ve felt like myself and I know I’m not alone.
That’s why I’ve begun to dig into what to do about it.
I am Type A, after all.
I’m not one to sit around and let some dumb Corona fog take me down.
About a week ago, I came across an NPR episode that talked about how your brain feels foggy and you’re always tired and you’re not alone.
They talked to a psychiatrist at Johns Hopkins University, one Dr. Kali Cyrus, who admitted she has struggled with periods of exhaustion—and it’s the number one complaint she hears from her patients right now.
Some talk about how hard it is just to get out of bed, while others say they constantly misplace things or make mistakes at work or don’t want to turn on the TV. Some just want to stare at the ceiling and I feel every bit of that.
And even though some of us are getting plenty of exercise and sleep and doing our best to take care of ourselves, it’s not working.
There is a reason for this and it’s because we’ve been constantly stressed for more than a year, which leaves us feeling drained.
And though we may be sleeping the same amount as before, if not more, it’s not the same kind of sleep.
The level of stress we’ve all endured has created either insomnia or bouts of sleeplessness in some and no deep sleep in others.
No wonder we’re exhausted!
Change Your Routine and Be Grateful
Just like Ken relayed in his article, if you aren’t doing the usual things that help during stressful times: exercise, a healthy diet, going outdoors, and limiting news consumption, you have to start there.
You can also engage in relaxing activities, such as a hobby you love, listening to or watching something funny, or reading books you enjoy.
If you’re doing these things and it’s still not working (slowly raising my hand), the experts suggest you try shaking up your routine a bit.
For instance, if you normally take a walk every day to get away from your desk, try a bike ride or a scooter ride.
Those things are easy enough to do if you live in a city where you can easily rent them.
Even a change of scenery could work.
You can also try openly talking about how you feel with friends and family–even co-workers, if appropriate.
I’m willing to bet you’re not the only one in your circle who feels this way.
If you haven’t taken any time off of work, that’s important, too. Even if you aren’t going to go anywhere, just having time to putter around the house could be helpful.
Experts also suggest you keep a gratitude journal.
You Can’t Do Your Job In a Fog
A friend of mine posted on Instagram the other day (you know, when I was aimlessly scrolling because my brain couldn’t do anything else) that maybe instead of counting our steps and our calories and hours worked and activities obtained that perhaps we count our blessings.
I love that and, while I will never stop counting the steps I take or the miles I ride because they motivate me, I do love the idea of counting my blessings.
We do this daily with our small child, but we don’t do it ourselves.
We ask her every day to tell us five amazing things that happened to her that day.
It helps her focus on the good because these little humans are going through a lot, too.
If you lead a team or work with a team or interact with other human beings during the day, the most important thing you can do for others is, as Ken said, practice empathy.
I’ve noticed a massive loss of patience of late—from clients and colleagues, alike.
Some people are still homeschooling. Some still haven’t seen their friends or family—or hugged another person. Some haven’t been able to replace income they may have lost. Some have lost loved ones and are still reeling from the pain.
There is one thing that’s certain and it’s that we’re all working through stuff so be kind, remember your experience is not that of everyone else, and be patient.
I know this is a strange topic for a marketing and communications blog, but it’s top-of-mind and I’ve been doing a lot of research on how to get myself—and some of my colleagues—out of this funk.
You can’t, however, be a great leader or a great marketer or a great communicator if you’re not in a great place yourself.
Hopefully, it’s helpful to you, as well.
If you want someone to talk to about getting out of your funk, join us in the Spin Sucks Community.
We’re not medical experts, but many of us are people pleasers and caretakers and can certainly empathize. We have your back!
Now I’m off to take a nap.