Have you been experiencing any changes in energy levels or moods? My household just finished week seven of sheltering in place. I noticed a downswing in my focus, energy and optimism in the past seven days. When I analyzed these changes in me, I realized that I’m experiencing what I call COVID-19 fatigue.
Basically, I’m tired of the unknown…not knowing:
how much longer we have to stay at home
how much longer we’ll have to avoid close contact with people
when we’ll be able to travel
when in-person events will re-start, if ever
when business will pick back up
what the financial future will be
And what makes me grow even wearier is the guessing, speculating, prognosticating and finger-pointing that is broadcast everywhere. The media does it intentionally. They share the scariest-sounding numbers, stories and what-if scenarios in order to keep viewers and listeners coming back for updates. And many of us do it unintentionally in our daily conversations with friends, family and colleagues because…it’s the current event. I only listen to the news once per day, so I can only imagine what others might feel if they’re listening to or watching the news and “news shows” multiple times per day.
As a business owner, each day for me has always been filled with decisions, uncertainty, questions, research, responses. There has never been financial certainty or guarantees. But this Coronavirus situation is totally different. I compare it to having surgery. Stay with me…this will end up making sense.
When you first find out that you’re going to have surgery, you ask a whole bunch of questions, you get answers from the doctors, and then you begin to prepare. You let your friends and family know about the surgery. Then they start asking you all sorts of questions. At first you’re touched at how thoughtful everybody is and how much they care about you. Plus you’re a little excited about all of this extra attention and this new situation even though you’re actually a little nervous. But as all the talk of surgery and people’s stories about complications that can occur and the statistics related to all the bad things that can happen keep swirling around in your head, you begin to grow a little more worried and scared, and you begin to question whether or not surgery is a good idea.
And then the talk continues and the talk continues and the talk continues, and you get tired of talking about it and hearing anything related to doctors, medicine and surgery.
But the good news about surgery is that you know the exact day, date and time it will take place. You’re also given a very specific recovery window as well as very specific steps for what you’re supposed to do and not supposed to do and why either way is the case. You know the date that all of this will end.
Unfortunately with COVID-19, all of this happens except for the last part where you know the day date and time everything will happen, the specific recovery window, everything you’re supposed to do and not do and why and for how long, and when it will all end.
This is why there is COVID-19 fatigue. It is because of the unknowns. And if you don’t find a way to deal with the fatigue, the fatigue can easily turn into anxiety and depression and that debilitating paralysis that prevents you from moving forward because you fear the unknown and whether or not what you’re about to do is the absolutely correct Next Step.
And this is why I’m sick of talking about Coronavirus. I’m sick of hearing about Coronavirus. I’m sick of news reports and press conferences that share the most frightening-sounding Coronavirus numbers, but not all of the data that will give us the entire picture. And because of that, I’m sick of having to go to multiple data sources in order to get the full picture. I’m sick of the politicians who create their list of rules based on how they’re feeling and not what the data shows. But I’m most weary from not knowing when this will change and what exactly the future will be like.
And I’ve decided to do something about these negative feelings and the fatigue.
I am not going to ignore the situation. I am not going to repress my worry, anger and annoyance that this is happening. But I’m also not going to let these negative emotions overtake my normally positive outlook and my gratitude for all of the good things that are happening in my life, nor will I let the negativity slow down my productivity. Instead, I am putting a moratorium this week on my anxiety and fear about the unknown. Instead, I choose to go a week without listening to speculation, without listening to talk radio and the prognostications, without listening to press conferences, and without listening to all of the guessing that’s happening. I choose to go a week without wondering when the economy will restart, when my small business client demographics will feel financially secure enough to begin investing again in their well-being and performance levels, whether or not I’ll still be in business in six months, and whether or not our group adventure in Italy that we already have bookings for will still be able to happen.
Instead, I choose to do even more of the things that make me happy, do things that relax me, do things that I find enjoyable and fun. And do things that I know will lay the groundwork for me to have a better future no matter what that future is.
What do you plan to do this week?