Hitting the Pandemic Wall?

There has been a lot of talk lately about "the Pandemic Wall." What is this wall? No, it's not another Facebook page where people post pandemic memes. It basically means BURN OUT.

Burn out occurs when a person has been under a heavy stress load for an extended time. I'm sure we've all been there. I remember when my first daughter went through a growth spurt at about 6 months, and needed to breastfeed every hour or two around the clock. After about a week of this, my mind disintegrated and leaked out through my ears. I'm not sure I ever got it back...

But I digress.

"Hitting the Pandemic Wall" is an expression for the level of burn out many of us are currently feeling. You might be a parent or grandparent dealing with children who have been schooled remotely for almost a year. Many people have lost their jobs, made major career changes, lost their businesses, had to move, or otherwise have experienced huge upheaval in the past year. Weddings were cancelled or postponed. Loved ones have died and funerals were either virtual or non-existent. I could go on and on. 

And on top of all this change, we have an underlying layer of fear. 

How do we cope with this ongoing situation when we are just SO DONE? I have a few suggestions.

1) Consider a media fast. The television news cranks up the panic so that more viewers will tune in. Notice how you feel when you're watching. The constant message is FEAR! Try getting your news from a different source. Or try taking a break. 

2) Get your sweat on! Stress hormones like adrenaline send the message through your nervous system telling your body to flee or fight. When you do a workout, you use up those hormones. Go for a run, swim laps, dance to some music, do the workout of your choice, but get your body moving fast enough to break a sweat and breathe hard. You will feel so much better afterward.

3) Escape into your imagination. This might mean reading a fantastic novel or watching a great movie. Maybe use your imagination to create something new. You might try painting, drawing, writing poetry, or creating cake sculptures. While you distract your mind, you could discover some hidden talent. Either way, you will give yourself a break from the ongoing stress.

4) Take a chill pill. Not a literal pill, but a calming practice like yoga, qigong, t'ai chi, or meditation. Slowing down and breathing deeply will send a message to your nervous system that everything is okay. Instead of ramping up the stress hormones, you will give those adrenal glands a break.

5) Connect with others. There is something very healing about remembering we are all in this together. You are not alone. Call a friend or family member, set up a Zoom meeting, or get together in person when and where you can. Give support and receive support. 

And when all of the above is not enough, seek professional help. Don't let bad feelings fester. Find a therapist or call a helpline. Reach out!