Psychologist explains why everyone feels exhausted right now and it makes so much sense
We’re about to wrap up year three of the COVID-19 pandemic, and it’s been a weird ride, to say the least. These years have been hard, frustrating, confusing and tragic, and yet we keep on keeping on.
Except the keeping on part isn’t quite as simple as it sounds. Despite the fact that COVID-19 is still wreaking havoc, we’ve sort of collectively decided to move on, come what may. This year has been an experiment in normalcy, but one without a testable hypothesis or clear design. And it’s taken a toll. So many people are feeling tired, exhausted, worn thin (“like butter scraped over too much bread,” as Bilbo Baggins put it) these days.
Psychologist and speaker Naomi Holdt beautifully explained what’s behind the overarching exhaustion people are feeling as we close out 2022, and it makes perfect sense.
In a post on Facebook, she wrote:
“A gentle reminder about why you are utterly exhausted…
No one I know began this year on a full tank. Given the vicious onslaught of the previous two years (let’s just call it what it was) most of us dragged ourselves across the finish line of 2021… frazzled, spent, running on aged adrenaline fumes…
We crawled into 2022 still carrying shock, trauma, grief, heaviness, disbelief… The memories of a surreal existence…
And then it began… The fastest hurricane year we could ever have imagined. Whether we have consciously processed it or not, this has been a year of more pressure, more stress, and a race to ‘catch up’ in all departments… Every. Single. One. Work, school, sports, relationships, life…
Though not intentionally aware, perhaps hopeful that the busier we are, the more readily we will forget… the more easily we will undo the emotional tangle… the more permanently we will wipe away the scarring wounds…
And attempts to re-create some semblance of ‘normal’ on steroids while disregarding that for almost two years our sympathetic nervous systems were on full alert, has left our collective mental health in tatters. Our children and teens are not exempt. The natural byproduct of fighting a hurricane is complete and utter exhaustion…
So before you begin questioning the absolutely depleted and wrung-dry state you are in- Pause. Breathe. Remind yourself of who you are and what you have endured. And then remind yourself of what you have overcome.
Despite it all, you’re still going. (Even on the days you stumble and find yourself face down in a pile of dirt).
Understanding brings compassion… Most of the world’s citizens are in need of a little extra TLC at the moment. Most are donning invisible ‘Handle with care’ posters around their necks and ‘Fragile’ tattoos on their bodies…
Instead of racing to the finish line of this year, tread gently.
Go slowly. Amidst the chaos, find small pockets of silence. Find compassion. Allow the healing. And most of all… Be kind. There’s no human being on earth who couldn’t use just a little bit more of the healing salve of kindness.”
Putting it like that, of course we’re exhausted. We’re like a person who thinks they’re feeling better at the end of an illness so they dive fully back into life, only to crash mid-day because their body didn’t actually have as much energy as their brain thought it did. We tried to fling ourselves into life, desperate to feel normal and make up for lost time, without taking the time to fully acknowledge the impact of the past two years or to fully recover and heal from it.
Of course, life can’t just stop, but we do need to allow some time for our bodies, minds and spirits to heal from what they’ve been through. The uncertainty, the precariousness of “normal,” the after-effects of everything that upended life as we knew it are real. The grief and trauma of those who have experienced the worst of the pandemic are real. The overwhelm of our brains and hearts as we try to process it all is real.
So let’s be gentle with one another and ourselves as we roll our harried selves into another new year. We could all use that little extra measure of grace as we strive to figure out what a true and healthy “normal” feels like.
You can follow Naomi Holdt on Facebook.
This article originally appeared on 12.23.22
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