The upheaval caused by COVID-19 is affecting every one of us. After all of us went through the turmoil of community lockdown for a few months, some businesses in your neighborhood may be opening their doors. More facts about this mysterious disease are slowly being discovered. Yet a high level of caution is still required especially for the folks whose immunity is compromised. This new health-threat reminds us of the importance of a true sense of health with resilient immunity.
“Quarantine fatigue” may come from a lost sense of control
While we were in the battle against cancer, we were in a sort of “quarantine mode with uncertainty.” In our case, the uncertainty was defined as “a fifty-fifty chance of survival” and it came with a feeling of stagnation, frustration, and suffocation, not to mention fear.
When Bill, my husband, started to drink Sencha powder green tea while battling against his cancer, he said the action gave him a sense of “being in charge.” Making a cup of tea, drinking it down one sip by one sip (with a mantra he chanted to himself), feeling the warm liquid going down in his throat… Despite the uncontrollable circumstances, this physical routine put him back into the “driver’s seat” of his life, and gave him the strength to keep battling! If you would like to find more about our story, you can read it right here.
How to cope with “quarantine fatigue”
In the “uncontrollable circumstances” we are in now, here are three suggestions that may help you cope with the uncertainty:
1) Consciously spend the time and energy to envision “the best scenario”
With the shocking diagnosis of cancer, the thoughts of “what if” that appeared in my mind were naturally all negative. That caused “chronic anxiety” and put me into depression. My son was 2 years old at that time. One day, he gave me a gentle pat on my shoulder, comforting my grief. That was the moment I consciously started to spend at least an equal amount of time and energy to create the best version of how the story might end.
Embedding a physical trigger in your everyday regimen would be helpful, such as to imagine the best scenario for the outcome of this journey while drinking down a whole cup of warm green tea, sip by sip. In my case, it was when I was researching about green tea that I realized a better outcome was possible. Whatever the routine is, this daily realization/reminder of “there is a better option” should help you.
2) Use “don’t'” instead of “can’t”
This “quarantine” mode of life comes with physical and mental restrictions. If your automatic response to these restrictions tends to be “I want to do it but I can’t”, let’s turn the self-talk to “I don’t do it because…” For example, “I don’t do it because I choose to save my community,” or “I don’t do it because I choose to heal.”
3) Help create “ending” and “beginning”
“Endless continuation” is stressful and takes a toll on our health–mentally and physically. One major symptom of “quarantine fatigue” comes from this feeling of being in the endless darkness. Sometimes we don’t know even which day of the week it is, as we are at home all the time!
However, we have an option: We can create a sense of completion. And this is how: Set a short time goal (rather than a long time goal) and mark the end of the period clearly. Celebrate big time when the period ends. Allow reflection on achievement. This immediate, positive, and certain action gives you the power of controlling time. The sense of completion will generate the strength for the next battle.
If you have a daily routine to enjoy a cup of tea at the end of the day, that time might be a good opportunity to gain a sense of “controlling time”, especially if you combine it with the morning tea-meditation when you set up the daily goal.
Most likely, the above suggestions are a mere reminder rather than a brand new concept. Nonetheless, I hope this reminder is useful to you.