We are all lockdown pros by now, having spent six months in lockdown 1.0, and now back in 2.0. But one thing that many are still struggling with is the doing-nothing-exhaustion.
Back in March, lockdown 1.0 came with the promise of much-needed rest. Saying farewell to our daily commutes, shelving our social plans and taking a time-out from the gym meant, we thought, a mental and physical reset.
So why are we all so tired in lockdown? We are literally doing nothing, but we’re exhausted.
It turns out there is actually a scientific explanation…
WHY IS DOING NOTHING SO EXHAUSTING?
Apparently, it’s totally normal for your energy levels to drop when you’re not doing anything. Dr Diana Gall, from Doctor 4 U, says the less you do, the more tired you feel and therefore the less you do, leading to a bit of a cycle.
‘When you’re lacking any sort of physical activity, and your body spends most of its time in the same position, whether that be sitting or lying down for long periods of time, its ability to take in oxygen decreases and you will notice a huge drop in energy levels and motivation,’ She explains.
Dr Diana says that if you aren’t staying active, less oxygen will be getting to the blood which can increase the feeling of tiredness, also potentially leaving you feeling sluggish and irritable.
Being stuck at home, within the same four walls, can feel claustrophobic. It’s also likely we aren’t getting the same levels of activity we are used to (i.e. walking to the train station, walking around the shops at the weekend).
But do not fear, below are things you can do to boost your energy levels and stay upbeat and motivated:
1. MOVE MORE
Even if you’re tired, finding time to move every day is the best way to feel more energised and improve your mood. Exercise can positively impact serotonin levels in your brain, which boost your mood and overall feeling of well-being.
If you can’t get outside, try home exercise such as yoga or HIIT, both of which will get your blood pumping and oxygen moving around the body.
When working from home, try spending some time standing up instead of sat at a desk. It may be that you can join a Zoom meeting, or review a document, whilst standing.
2. BRAIN GYM
Many people find TV a great form of entertainment. But if you’re feeling sluggish and demotivated, try an activity which stimulates the brain instead. This could be a board game, a puzzle or some creative writing.
These activities require concentration so can be great lethargy busters.
3. FEED YOUR HEALTH
Diet also plays a key role in maintaining healthy levels of energy. It is always important to make sure we eat healthy, nutritious food. But this is particularly important during lockdown, when we are moving less regularly.
Make sure you eat at least five portions of fruit and veg a day to get those all-important vitamins, and try to limit how much alcohol you’re drinking.
4. DON'T WAIT TO HYDRATE
Alongside diet, our levels of hydration play a huge part in brain function and energy levels. When our usual routines are disrupted, it can be easy to forget to drink enough.
Try setting a reminder on your phone to drink a glass of water, or set yourself goals to finish a bottle of water by lunchtime and refill for the afternoon.
5. SLEEP (THE RIGHT WAY)
Oversleeping can make you feel sluggish. Avoid this by creating a bed time and a wake time and stick to that schedule, even on weekends. For adults aged 18-64, the recommended amount of nightly sleep is 7-9 hours, so try not to get too much of a good thing!
Letting natural light into your bedroom in the morning can help you get up.
A FINAL WORD...
Having said all of that, this is a difficult time for everyone and you shouldn’t feel guilty if you feel tired, demotivated and unproductive.
Many of us are struggling to sleep due to anxiety and the disruption of usual routines, so that could also explain the tiredness to an extent. Your body knows what it needs, so listen it to. Sleep when you need to. Heightened levels of anxiety and worry can be physically exhausting, so take time to rest and recover.
By developing healthy routines you will improve both your physical and mental health.