Why Are We Tired During Lockdown and What Can We Do About It?
Posted on 6th May 2020 at 10:00
Never in our lifetimes have we experienced something like this pandemic on such a global scale. To many people it all still seems a bit surreal. We are worried about our loved ones and our livelihoods, stress is high, and working online while balancing childcare can be exhausting. We’ll take a look at why we’re all so tired and what we can do to reduce this fatigue.
Are Zoom and Skype meetings causing your fatigue?
Even those of us who had never heard of Zoom before a few weeks ago now know how to join a meeting and host a meeting online. And that’s not including the Facetime chats, use of the House Party app, Teams, Skype, and the various other ways there are to catch up with work colleagues and family / friends.
These tools have been a life saver for many of us and I know I’m incredibly grateful to be able to have access to a computer and get my daily remote contact. But my goodness it makes you tired! At first I was confused about it. I kept wondering, “Why am I so tired when my work day is shorter?”
The shock and a worry also play a part of course, but I do think it’s the amount of screen time that’s doing it.
Having to concentrate and focus on 6 little boxes on the same screen, trying to make out if they are all listening or what they feel about what you just said can be exhausting!
Although Zoom is a great tool that helps some of us remain in work or allows us to connect personally, it is very hard to ‘be on’ and have to focus so hard on the interaction which would normally happen naturally if we were face-to-face. I bet you’ve caught yourself looking at your image on the screen too, right? We all do it! And there’s another pressure we didn’t perceive before. We are thinking about how we are coming across on screen and what we look like - it’s like a performance. This is true especially with people from work where there may be a pressure to try harder. Hopefully with your friends you can just be yourself.
All this leads to an understandable tiredness that I don’t think we should fight. We should accept it and be kind to ourselves in this strange time. Take regular breaks, and only limit work meetings to the essentials. Can you turn some video calls into phone calls? Maybe some of them only need to be emails!
Using Zoom, Skype and other tools for social interaction and work meetings all adds up, so try and take breaks from the screen when you can, stretch, grab a glass of water, and get some fresh air.
Could being in the same place for work, socialising, working out be making you tired?
No matter your situation at the moment, lockdown, quarantine or working from home life as we know it has changed dramatically. We no longer visit different places to eat, work out, date, shop, work. Having to stay at home with no change of scenery could be adding to our fatigue.
And then there’s the disruption to our routines. Humans love routine and to have ours so swiftly taken away was a shock. Plenty of people are half-joking about not knowing what day of the week it is!
Although we might be getting to opportunity to sleep more, is it good quality sleep? Anxiety levels and stress are quite high during a crisis like Coronavirus and this can lead to poor quality sleep. People are waking and going to bed at different times, which can have a negative effect on sleep patterns.
As stated by Matthew Walker, professor of neuroscience and psychology at the University of California, in an article in the Independent, anxiety is likely to be affecting people’s ability to experience deep sleep that is of a good quality.
“We know that when people are anxious, the depth of their deep sleep isn’t as deep anymore,” he explains. “So, when you are anxious the day before, it usually leads to worse quality of sleep that night and unfortunately it’s a vicious cycle.”
So what can we do to stop feeling tired?
Get into a good routine morning and night. Get enough sleep. Meditate before bed if it helps your sleep quality. Use blackout blinds if you need them. Go outside and get some daylight and Vitamin D during the day.
Is doing nothing making me even more sleepy?
In the beginning I know I was thinking it was going to feel so refreshed having to not get up so early, do fewer hours at work, get more time to rest and relax… but no the days are still going quickly. I find myself yawning at 9pm whereas before I’d be going to bed at 11-11.30pm.
According to some sleep experts not moving our bodies as much as we would have done can cause our muscles to become under-used and our energy stagnates. The one hour of exercise a day we are allowed doesn’t really match up to the activity level we would normal be at with walking to work, getting up and down from our desk, walking to lunch, taking the stairs at work, going to the gym, doing sports, etc.
I’m still pretty active walking the dog every day and doing my home yoga, but compared to how active we are at work as sports massage therapists it must be a lot less. I used to do that and go to the gym. Some good news is I have an excuse to make another cup of tea!
It’s OK to be tired. Try to relax and don’t pressure yourself to be super productive. Limit screen time in meetings, eat healthily to boost your immune system, and get into a sensible sleep routine.
Read more about how to stay healthy when you’re working from home on our blog.
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