At the time of writing, we are in a lockdown that keeps getting extended and measures are being tightened. While January is often already not the best month of the year for many (including myself), the dip may be even greater this year. What impact does this have on how we feel and pain symptoms? What can we do about this? How can we become less Covid-19 fatigued?
What the lockdown does to us
The impact of a lockdown is unique to everyone. The more dependent a person feels on the activities that can no longer be done, the more severe the impact. For many, this manifests itself in mainly two different patterns: dullness and anxiety
January is normally the month when many people already indicate that they are feeling less cheerful. The holidays are over, there is little to look forward to, it is dark and finally the weather is often not good. Enough reasons to feel a little less comfortable than usual.
The lockdown is now adding to that. It is uncertain what we can look forward to this year at all. We don't know if this year's vacation, that festival, visiting family and friends or social outings will continue, or in what form.
That dullness and perhaps lack of exercise can also cause your pain symptoms to worsen. Ultimately, the issue is not whether this is justified or not. It is extremely difficult to find out how pain complaints arise and what circumstances have contributed to it and to what extent. And should you do find out - it probably won't change your pain that much. In short: worrying about the way things are unfortunately often solves little and increases powerlessness and gloom.
So what does help? A focus on progress, from your situation as it is now. So don't compare yourself with the past, or with others, but with now. Many of the exercises in Reducept will help overcome gloomy feelings. Focusing on the positive, slowly expanding your behavior, positive distractions and mindfulness are all strategies that can help not only with pain, but also with gloom and depression.
Everyone reacts differently to current circumstances. Where some, like myself, tend more toward somberness, others are more likely to feel tense or anxious. Fear about a possible infection, developing more pain symptoms, losing contact with friends or family - the fears many people are experiencing now are diverse, but also common.
Anxiety can also play a big role in chronic pain conditions. Anxiety also almost always goes hand in hand with pain. Pain is so unpleasant that basically everyone has a fear of pain, or more pain. When the fear of pain or the current lockdown causes you to be unable to do certain things in daily life, the problem can get worse and worse. Because pain is such a nasty feeling, we want as little of it as possible. The anxiety increases, makes the alarm system more sensitive, and the result can be even more pain.
To reduce your pain and anxiety, you will have to "prove" the warning systems wrong. Just as you want to prove your danger system wrong with pain, you can do the same with anxiety. You'll find many different exercises within Reducept for this as well, which often have to do with keeping your rhythm, slowly increasing activities (especially movement), and exercises to train your thinking and attention.
What else helps?
By now, much has been learned about the impact of the pandemic on our minds, and what can help. See for yourself if the following tips appeal to you - and especially seek professional help if you feel you could benefit from it or are still struggling to come out of your dullness or fear on your own.
1. Talk about it with others
Right now, a lot of people are suffering. Because of the isolation we speak little about it, while that would be good right now. Think about which person you can trust and who understands you.
2. Develop your own routine
Not every day has to be the same, but it can help to create a grip by building in a routine. Getting out of bed on time, having a set of activities you like to do, and especially exercise and creative activities can help tremendously. Do activities even when you don't feel like it or don't feel like it, we know from research on dullness that this does help in the long run!
3. Keep moving
It was already mentioned in the previous tip, but I emphasize it anyway: keep moving. Even if your usual pool, gym or walking club is not available. Maybe this is the moment to try something new, or to pick up an old hobby (temporarily).
4. Nutrition and energy
Where one person eats more healthily by sitting at home, for another the availability of the cupboard nearby is a reason to eat less healthy now. Nutrition has a lot of influence on how we feel, so if you can manage it, eating healthily is certainly of added value. What can help is to make a weekly plan of what you are going to eat before you go shopping, so you know exactly what you want to get from the supermarket. Eating well before you go to the supermarket helps to resist the temptation to buy unhealthy food while shopping. Or you can get someone else to do the shopping for you!
I hope this blog has given you a little more insight into the factors at play at the moment and that one of the tips helps you a little further. As a member of Reducept, you will find additional articles and exercises on the members page that can help you further.