What a Therapist Wants You To Know About Quarantine Burnout

During the past few weeks, the majority of my clients have been talking about what they “should” be doing during this quarantine. At the same time, they’re applying less and less self-compassion. If there was ever a time to be gentle with ourselves, it’s now. 

When who we are at our core is shattered or changed, we immediately go into fight, flight, or numb mode. Our worlds, on a personal and collective level, are on shaky ground right now. It is our biological nature to right that ship and get everything back on solid ground. For some, it looks like an attempt to control absolutely everything around them. Others numb out with alcohol, online shopping, or sleeping. And still others respond by care-taking those around them. But as many of us are coming to grips with, no one knows what that solid ground is going to look like or when it’s going to come. As a result, we continue operating in fight or flight mode. No matter your coping mechanism, it’s a recipe for quarantine burnout.

No matter your coping mechanism, it’s a recipe for quarantine burnout.

We can always strive. Yes, that makes us better people and there’s a time and place for striving. But the true growth and healing comes in the form of the self-compassion that we implement when we planned to do that yoga class the night before, but instead decided to binge Tiger King. It comes from getting back to basic self-care.

There are many external forces (i.e. all the instagram scrolling) that are telling us that this is a great time to be productive and do all the things we’ve been putting off. But this is where we start to “should” on ourselves. And in order to stop that we need to take a deep breath, slow down, and tune in to our body. What does it need? Drink water. Get food in you when you need it. Get fresh air in any sort of capacity; walk around the block, lay on your lawn, or sit by an open window. Laugh. Seek out joy. 

Self-compassion is binging Tiger King when you planned to do yoga.

If we allow more grace in, we begin to operate in the energetics of what grace embodies. This energy is contagious. It can be felt by our kids, our partners, how we talk to strangers (from six feet away), and even how we post on instagram. We have the opportunity to impact the collective’s anxious energy by showing up with grace. And if it’s a day where you are like nope, I can’t show up with grace today, know that’s okay too, because there’s always tomorrow or the next day. Our body will tell us when grace can be let in. 

Here are a few things that are bringing me joy, helping me heal, or just helping me to get through this:

  1. Physically clear the energy of your space. We are all spending an unprecedented amount of time in our homes that the energy in them is overflowing. We need to move and groove all the stale energy out of there. Sage, burn palo santo, open all the windows, or turn up the music loud and have a dance party in every room. You choose how you want to clear your home’s energy.
  2. @the_cat_named_carrot ’s instagram account. Even if you aren’t a cat person, this account will bring you so much joy and you will start to aspire to have as few f’s as the little orange cat featured in it.
  3. Tinder Takeover on Hulu. I was sitting in my living room alone laughing to the point of tears. Very few things are better than that.
  4. Using a white noise machine or turning on any sort of white noise, such as rain, through your phone or computer. It’s soothing, makes my solely inhabited apartment feel less alone, and drowns out the other unwanted noises from other apartment inhabitants while I’m working from home.  

Kaleigh Frey

Kaleigh Frey is a clinical counselor who specializes in anxiety disorders, addiction, and identity development. While she has a soft spot for millennials, Kaleigh’s message is ageless: It’s time to replace comparison with compassion and negative self-talk with intentional self-care. When she’s not in session you’ll find her meditating with crystals.

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