When the COVID-19 pandemic first hit the U.S. in March and we went into shelter-in-place, I remember feeling an overwhelming tiredness that didn’t make sense to me. I felt I was getting more sleep, we had nowhere to rush to, and I was grateful for the extra time with my family. Why the fatigue? As I talked to my friends, I learned that we were all experiencing similar feelings of tiredness and fatigue.
About a month later, I read an article that talked about how we are experiencing a “fight or flight” response to the pandemic. The “fight or flight” response causes our cortisol levels to rise which can be helpful when needing to escape a situation, however, with no way to do anything during COVID, those responses continue to rise and can cause restlessness, trouble sleeping, GI issues, etc.
Obviously, we are unable to fight or flee the pandemic, so for some people, the body goes into a freeze response – low energy, difficulty concentrating, avoidance of all news, and feeling exhausted are some of the symptoms.
I realized that my body was falling into the freeze response and that I needed to find strategies to cope with the stress. For me, creating a schedule and continuing to accomplish things while at home was important. I woke up to my alarm, set aside time for my business and workouts, made schedules for my children, and spent time walking, praying, and singing. And it worked!
We’ve started to find our new normal. My kids are fortunate to be in school all day, five days a week and I teach at their school two days per week. We have slowly brought some activities back into our schedule too. Things have been feeling good.
Fast forward to last week…the cases are rising in my state and someone I was in close contact with (although always more than six feet away) tested positive for COVID. I was late in finding out about the person’s symptoms and worried that I might have passed it unknowingly to someone else. I had a COVID test done on Friday, just to be safe and it took multiple days to get the results (negative). While I waited I found myself shutting down as I thought of all the ramifications if I was positive (kids e-learning, not working, canceling kids’ birthday events, etc.). When I finally got the results back, I could feel my energy increase, however, I was still feeling unrested in the morning…and then I remembered the “fight or flight” response. My body is still responding to the stress even as I get back to normal. And it’s not over — things are starting to shut down in our state again. So how will I cope with it? Same as last time — movement, prayer, schedules, and natural supplements to keep me calm and at peace.
How about you? How has COVID effected you? What strategies have you put in place to conquer the stress and anxiety? If you haven’t created any, now would be a good time. Figure out where you are struggling — write it down — and make a plan. Don’t let the stress overtake you again like it did when it first started last March.
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Finally, I leave you with this encouragement from Philippians 4:5b-7: “The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
Praying for you to stay safe and have a peace that exceeds anything you can understand!