Lockdown exhaustion

Today’s blog has been written by Headspace Guildford’s Assistant Psychologist Phoebe Crook

Today’s blog post is going to discuss lockdown exhaustion. At the time of writing the UK has been on lockdown for over 6 weeks. Undeniably nobody could have anticipated this and there is no way to know how much longer this might go on for. Whilst previous blog posts have acknowledged that it is okay to just be coping and to not be doing a million and one new hobbies, I think it is worthwhile reflecting that lockdown exhaustion is a real thing and that even more so than a few weeks ago, it is important to not pressurise yourself into doing a home work out every day, or baking lots or learning a new instrument. Simply, it is okay to be tired, it is okay to be frustrated and it is okay that you are finding it hard to motivate yourself. It might seem that you have hours on your hands to do loads during the day but then suddenly it is the evening and you have not achieved the things on your to do list. That is okay and normal as well.

A way to help explain why motivation levels are at rock bottom now and why lockdown exhaustion is a real thing, is through The Change Curve. This model was designed in the 1960’s originally for grief and has been utilised to explain how individuals feel during significant changes and upheaval. First is Stage 1 which involves shock and denial. For example, everyone was shocked that lockdown was happening and was in denial that it was going to last a long time. At this time, your performance and motivation were hindered but it was still at an okay level, you still felt you could do some things.

Yet as the weeks went on and it became apparent lockdown was lasting for longer than 3 weeks, then your feelings started to change. We can see the current period of lockdown as Stage 2 which within the model involves anger and depression. This is where motivation and performance hits rock bottom as you come to realise that lockdown is here to stay. This time is where you feel exhausted and overwhelmed by anxiety and mood swings.

But remember, this stage will not last forever, you just need to ride it out. As soon we will be in the final stage. Stage 3 is where there is acceptance, integration, and hope. This is where you will become optimistic that things will be lifted and finally news regarding when lockdown will stop will be released. During this stage motivation remains low for a while as you will still be figuring out what they are meant to be doing and how the changes to the world will influence you. But slowly motivation will rise as the situation becomes clearer and you are able to start resuming normal conversations and activities, and eventually the lockdown exhaustion will subside.

Hopefully, this model helps to explain why lockdown exhaustion is occurring. Remember, it is perfectly normal to feel this way and that we are just in one of stages that will eventually lift. Lockdown has been tough and will continue to be tough, but I encourage you to look back at the previous blog posts about how you can look after yourself and how to promote good mental and physical health. By looking after yourself you can ride the exhaustion wave and come out the other side a stronger individual.

I have listed below some useful links on how to tackle lockdown exhaustion, how to accept it and more information regarding The Change Curve model.

http://www.sussex.ac.uk/ogs/project-services/support/change/cmresources/cmreschangecurve This Change Curve Model has more stages but follows along with the same principles.

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