You are not alone in feeling like you just hit what New York Public Radio host Tanzania Vega describes as the “pandemic wall.” Our collective adrenaline has been pumping nonstop, sustaining us in a marathon where we can’t see the finish line. Being able to turn the page on 2020 was a rush, but then we got to the other side, and we are still on zoom, still isolated from one another, and still adjusting to the new reality. After hovering on the edge of burnout from a year of prolonged stress, it’s more important than ever to focus on mental health and wellbeing. Here are a few ways to start:
- Start a gratitude journal. Make a specific effort to write down a small detail every day that you never noticed before. Maybe your cats have been napping in your home office, or you found the perfect playlist to get your energy and focus ready for work. Think about all the people in your life that are thinking about you too, improving your life in tiny ways—brainstorm safe ways to return that kindness.
- Think about the changes you would like to keep. Reflect on some positive outcomes of this pandemic. Have you been reaching out to friends and family more often on the phone? Have you been cooking more and prioritizing an organized space at home? Has the commute to your living room given you more time to enjoy your mornings? Make a list of the ways your priorities have shifted, the habits you’ve grown into, and reflect on the changes you would like to keep in the future.
- Set small goals to stay motivated. Think of every month as an opportunity to try something new. Make small goals and then switch it up at the end of the month with recent accomplishments to celebrate.
- Don’t be afraid to cross off a goal that no longer interests you. Maybe you set your expectations a little to sky-high at the beginning of the pandemic and never got around to your sourdough masterpiece. It’s okay. Expectations around what you “should” be doing can cause more stress than motivation. Pursue activities that lift your mood and bring you energy.
- Build something to look forward to. Plan a trip to a country you’ve always wanted to visit and start writing down all of the landmarks you want to see. Call your friends and daydream about your getaway, the food you will eat, and the towns you will explore. Make a vision board or visual representation of your future travels and put it somewhere you can see it regularly.
- Know that it is okay to feel fatigue. When you find yourself feeling guilty for being exhausted, remember you are not alone. If this feeling is impacting your work, be open with your boss and your colleagues. Remember to reach out to friends as many people going through similar feelings.
Remember there is no right way to navigate the unknown, but if we can take some time to focus on small moments of joy, we can build the momentum we need to keep on moving forward.