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Forgiving Myself For Being Exhausted During a Pandemic

Forgiving Myself For Being Exhausted During a Pandemic

Has anyone else been really sleepy lately? I mean REALLY sleepy, like can barely spend more than an hour out of bed, sleepy?

Well… me too.

When the pandemic first started, my reaction was somewhat unique. As a full time musician and creative, I’d already had my full experience of working from home for about a year. I was used to pushing myself to meet deadlines and find energy to show up for myself and others, even when I’d rarely leave my apartment. So I adjusted quite easily to the “stay your ass at home” orders. For the first few weeks I was even able to wake up at 7 am, workout, and commit to a full day of tasks.

But somewhere after weeks of enormous online shopping sprees, group friend video calls, and too many hours on Twitter I felt a part of me begin to shut down. Suddenly getting out of bed was a little harder than before. I was falling behind on work and pressuring myself to get caught up with the fog of procrastination hanging over me. Seamless and UberEats were my new best friends. Even though I’d slept for hours the night before I’d wake up and want nothing more than to just sleep… and sleep… and sleep some more.

I soon started to feel a little out of control of my own body, and honestly angry at myself for falling into a slump.

Then it hit me that the guilt I felt around feeling exhausted was misplaced, and really I just needed to listen to what my body needed. Because I seamlessly fell into the “new normal” without missing a beat, I neglected the parts of myself that needed to pause in silence before jumping into action.  I rushed into this new pressure of productivity without room for gentleness around how my body, mind, and spirit would change.

We often forget that when your mind doesn’t want to pause, your body will basically check out on you until you understand you need to sit down somewhere. So as much as I may have wanted to work… I couldn’t. I was forced into silence by my own body. But this helped me refocus my breath. This allowed me to investigate my exhaustion–instead of just being angry at it.

I then was able to ask myself:

What was my daily self care like and how did it need to change?

How had the relationships around me shifted?

Did I still feel supported in the same ways?

Was my appetite changing?

Were my rest needs changing?

Along with those questions I also had to be honest about my workload. Maybe a few weeks ago I could handle more of my superwoman-ness, but now I needed less work and more ME.

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So I did just that. I stepped down from two projects. I bought a new planner (and two new journals just ’cause). I slowly allowed myself to move back towards eating more leafy greens, taking daily walks, taking vitamins and drinking water. I became a little kinder to the reflection in the mirror, even if she was 20 lbs heavier after all this. I made the conscious decision not to chastise my exhaustion, but to meet her and apologize for ignoring her for so long.

Basically me and my exhaustion had a nice long hug:

Guilt around non-productivity weighs heavy on us creatives. We feel like failures if we’re not keeping up with these unrealistic expectations we place on ourselves. This looming feeling of “you should be working” is the same thing that triggers exhaustion, and but than understand it as a body alarm to focus on self-care.

To those of you battling between energy and sluggishness, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY. Take some time to hear what your body needs before condemning yourself for being a bit more sleepy than usual. Rearrange your daily routine and work schedule to prioritize organization, gentleness and rest. Do your best to break your larger tasks into extremely small daily tasks, to keep your anxiety and procrastination demons at bay. Most importantly? Make sure you’re fuelling your body in the right ways. “Drink water” isn’t just a catchy social media phrase, you literally need to do it.

Make sure you’re getting sunlight and proper nutrients as the seasons change. Take frequent social media breaks and relax your eyes from staring at a screen all day. Choose exercise that’s restorative to your body, and not just about condemning yourself for the Popeyes you ate last night. Connect with what your body is naturally saying it needs, that voice is there.

Once I began loving on my own exhaustion, I began to understand myself a lot more and ironically slowly return to getting things done. This pandemic is teaching us all new things about our own wellness daily, and if we’re too consumed with the noise of work or productivity–we may miss out on a vital chapter in self-growth.

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