With vaccines slowly rolling out, we’re beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel. But quite frankly, the light may seem dim and far away for many of us. Today we’re unpacking what ‘hitting the pandemic wall’ is and what we can do as pros if we feel that we’ve hit it.
The Pandemic Wall
When the pandemic began, we shared ways to Take Care of Your Mental Health During a Pandemic. While still relevant, we’re now more than a full year into the COVID-19 pandemic and our collective mental health is suffering. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a whole year of living in this state of unknown. Each phase of the pandemic has impacted communities in different ways.
The term Pandemic Wall was recently popularized by Tanzina Vega, a New York Radio Host, who describes a feeling of sudden mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion of life during COVID-19. The term ‘hitting the wall’ is a running metaphor that's used when runners suddenly run out of energy part of the way through a long race. Runners begin to feel like their legs are as heavy as concrete, and reaching the finish line seems impossible.
This pandemic has certainly been a marathon that none of us trained for. We’ve been running for an entire year straight and have used up all of our energy deposits. We have fatigue from running our businesses, navigating this confusing new experience with clients, working from home, stress from financial instability, managing online school for our children, inundation of bad news, unhealthy excess of time spent with people in our households, and often experiencing severe loneliness.
Signs you may have hit the pandemic wall:
- Burnout and hopelessness/feeling like there is no end
- Numbness in all aspects of your life
- Cyclical patterns and inability to be present
- Feeling overwhelmed and overstimulated
- Having outbursts of anger and sadness
- Being unable to find meaning
Good news! There's a silver lining to ‘hitting the wall.’ According to Runner’s World, runners can predict when they'll hit the wall, and they know that hitting the wall means that they’re almost done, if only they power through. In our case, we each may hit that wall at different times, and although we don’t know when things will get better, vaccine distribution and cases lowering is a promising start. If you’ve hit the wall or think you may be getting close to hitting the wall, find comfort in knowing that this is normal and we will overcome this.
Actions You Can Take to Overcome the Wall
1. Accept What You Can't Control
There’s a peace that comes with acceptance. We can’t burden ourselves with things we cannot carry. Take time to accept what's out of your control in your life. You can’t control others, you can’t control your state’s event restrictions, you can’t control bad things from happening, etc.
Pro Tip: On a piece of paper, write down a list of everything you can’t control and ceremonially (and safely) burn it. You’ll feel the pressure lift off your shoulders. Breathe and let go.
2. Take Charge of What You Can Control
- Work: There are several elements of your job that you can control and improve! Setting client expectations, setting up procedures for rescheduling and planning for smaller and safer events, taking care of your team, etc.
- Family & Friends: You can contribute to the betterment of your family. Be there for your loved ones as they will be there for you. Now is a great time to build strong and positive relationships to uplift one another.
- Safety: As tiring as it may be, continue wearing masks and social distancing, maintaining hygiene habits, and getting the vaccine (when you are able) are all ways that you can do your part in keeping others safe and helping end the pandemic.
3. Awareness & Introspection
Oh, the power of awareness and introspection! When you start feeling yourself hit the wall by lashing out at your loved ones or yourself, take time to register exactly how you feel. Look inward to see what triggers you. Spend time with those feelings and validate them. It’s okay to feel sad or frustrated, but what can you do to alleviate these feelings so they aren’t the only thing you’re feeling? Sometimes simply being aware that these feelings are temporary will make them easier to carry.
4. Change Your Thought Patterns
Your brain is a powerful tool. Once you’ve practiced awareness and introspection, it’s time to take action and change those thought patterns. If you notice that you keep thinking self-deprecating and harmful thoughts; redirect them. Yes, it’s hard, but you can do it! You have the power to change the way you think about every situation you face. Continue, or begin to speak life and wellness over yourself daily.
5. Remain Optimistic & Hopeful
When you’re in control of your thoughts, you open the door to finding meaning and purpose. Remain optimistic. Look past all of the negativity in the media. Take social media breaks and set media consumption parameters. This will help you establish a healthy optimism and hope for the future.
Pro Tip: If you really struggle with this, try finding at least one positive or hopeful thing every day. Check out Time’s Finding Hope Series, it’s dedicated to highlighting positive and hopeful stories amidst the pandemic.
6. Communicate Challenges
It can be really easy to simply let the days go by, push-through time as though it has no meaning, and for our relationships to become distant. Our own heads can be a lonely place, but you're far from alone in any of the feelings you're experiencing. Practice the art of being vulnerable and communicating openly. Talking about your challenges is a part of the solution. Speak with your loved ones and others in the wedding/event industry. Connect and set plans for the future. Communication is a healing agent.
7. Invest In Your Mental Health Continuously
Invest continual energy in taking care of yourself and nurture your mental health. Even if you have been, keep doing it! Taking care of your mental health is a journey, not a destination. If what you’ve been doing isn’t working anymore, try something new. Sometimes the clay face masks and hot tea don't always cut it, and that's okay!
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all when it comes to what makes each of us feel better. Self-care for some of us is relaxation (baths, facemasks, massages, meditation, etc.), or it’s exercise (runs, walks, weight lifting, yoga, etc.). While for others it’s watching a favorite show, listening to a podcast, diffusing essential oils, pursuing hobbies, or any combination of things. We’re not all the same and we should treat our mental health accordingly. For more specifics, read Reduce Stress: Unique Ways to Find a Little Inner Peace for Every Personality Type to find out which form of self-care is best for you.
At the end of the day, do more of what makes you feel happy. Life is too complicated and short to not treat ourselves to simple pleasures.