Quarantine Burnout is a Real (Mental and Physical) Health Risk
Pandemic fatigue has set in. After two seasons in isolation, mental health providers continue to see increased mood disorders and exhaustion. Restless, active ADHD brains may be even more prone to these feelings — and in even greater need of help. Here is how to get it.
Life and liberty changed drastically in March 2020 – a month that will be forever etched in our national history and collective consciousness. So many facets of daily life — running an errand, meeting up with a friend for dinner, exercising at the gym, getting a haircut, hugging another person, going to a party — were erased totally and quickly.
I grumbled through the first few weeks of Zoom calls and remote learning and grocery delivery thinking it would come to an end in a month, at the very longest. I was wrong. Very wrong.
Here we are, four months and two seasons later, we are still in quarantine as the pandemic continues to threaten our elders, ourselves, and our children. Although aspects of quarantine living have started to feel “normal,” this is still really hard.
Many parents and children are feeling the cumulative weight of prolonged distress, significant life limitations, and missed milestones such as proms, graduations, weddings, and family travel. We are burned out. Cooked. Fried. Mentally exhausted.
If you agree with several of the below statements, you are likely burned out as well, and may need to seek support and respite:
__ I think about the coronavirus all the time and look up information online daily
__ I ruminate about how long we will remain in quarantine
__ I am tired all day long, but then restless and awake at night
__ I crave a quiet mind
__ I miss my old routine and think about it often
__ I mentally walk through “What if” scenarios
__ I’m tense most of the day
__ My sleep is choppy
__ I miss interacting socially with others
__ I am grieving missed milestones or events canceled due to quarantine
__ I miss life’s little pleasures like manicures, haircuts, and massages
__ I don’t leave the house often
__ I order groceries online or plan grocery trips for low-volume times
__ I think about the spread of germs and where my hands (or my child’s hands) have been in relation to others
Seeking Support for Quarantine Burnout
It may be hard to recognize or admit that you are burned out. If you’re like me, you’re proud of the challenges you have taken on. You may feel efficient and accomplished — even while struggling to balance so much in so little time. But still, you need effective coping mechanisms — and right now the standard options are just not there. That said, here are some important messages for ADHD brains (and caregivers of ADHD brains) to hear right now:
- It’s okay to ask for help. If you need to process your anxiety and worry, contact a therapist. Most are offering telemedicine now.
- If you are struggling to find ways to relax your body and need the help of an outside agent, contact your Primary Care Physician or a psychiatrist for an anti-anxiety or anti-depressant medication.
- If you are struggling to maintain activity and need guidance, hire a virtual personal trainer or join an online accountability group for free.
- If you are working around the clock while also serving as a camp counselor, take a week of vacation time to regroup.
- If you are not cut out to be a camp counselor, hire a trusted sitter to entertain your children safely outside while you work so that you are not always balancing two worlds.
No one knows when quarantine will end and the threat will fade away. Assume it’s going to be a very long time. Then honestly assess how you’re doing and seek the support you need. There’s no need to suffer any more.
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