For the last five days now I’ve been tired.. and not the sort of tired that can be easily fixed with a few coffees and a shower. I’m talking about the kind of fatigue that makes you question whether your spouse has secretly drugged you! My muscles are stiff, my eyes blurry and I can’t seem to perform even the most basic of tasks.
I wander around the house in a lockdown based stupor, obsessing about whether I have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome.
During said stupor, my brain fights to return to standby mode, or drift into my favourite daydream – in which I’m accidentally seated next to Courtney Love on a train and we become best mates. (I pretend not to know who she is, and she’s a huge fan of my blog. She invites me round to her house for tea and I nonchalantly accept).
I also find that I’m visualising what could be described as ‘normal life porn.’ Whereby, an imaginary trip to the local coffee shop has become an X-rated fantasy; After the coffee, I could nip in that charity shop on the corner, or buy some stationery that I absolutely don’t need. Maybe grab a fresh baguette from the bakery too.
YEAH BABY GIVE IT TO ME!
This morning, the stupor gripped me so hard that I couldn’t write a sentence without making several errors. (Seriously, I spelled my name wrong… TWICE).
So what the bloody hell is going on? Is ‘lockdown stupor’ a thing?
After asking several people about their tiredness levels, I can confirm that YES, it is a thing.
The science bit
According to Professor Colin Espie, Professor of Sleep Medicine at the University of Oxford, the fatigue we’re all experiencing is a lack of exposure to the outdoors. The lockdown has restricted how much time we can spend outside and where we can go. We’re not being exposed to enough sunlight.
Daylight is the main biological signal to alertness, which is why lack of exposure to ambient daylight, or outdoor light, is making people feel less alert throughout the day. Read the full article here.
The lack of adequate stimulation also plays a role. (Animals and children highlight this perfectly). Living things need to be engaged and need variation. A jog around the same few routes or a stroll in the garden doesn’t cut it for long. Neither do box sets or games.
I’ve finished all my books and my knitting has become repetitive… but I’m too tired to think of anything else.
Lockdown stupor tips
- Use a SAD lamp if you have one. SAD lamps mimic natural sunlight and encourage the brain to reduce the production of melatonin (a hormone that is triggered by the dark and makes you sleepy).
- When taking a daily walk, play a scavenger hunt game.
Make a list in advance of five things you need to spot. The list can be as weird or normal as you like. E.g. A takeaway with a funny name. This activity will engage your brain and prevent the fatigue of routine.
- Keep interacting with people, face to face (via whatever app) if you can. Every week before I talk to my mates, I tell myself that I can’t be arsed, and yet, EVERY TIME I do I feel so much better. Not only because their company lifts my spirits, but it engages my brain. Friends provide variety and new energy.
- Cold showers. I know, brutal, but they help. A cold shower is literally a shock to the nervous system, which is sort of what the brain needs… a ‘jump start’ so to speak.
I do it in stages; cool water, cooler water, f**king freezing water. Do five seconds in each stage if you can and turn your body slowly.
(Obviously, don’t try this if you have any underlying health conditions).
- When you’re feeling more alert take ten minutes to think of new activities that might engage you. It’ll be worth the effort long term.
For instance, I’ve just started customising my clothes, (they look shit but it’s fun at least)!
I’ve also started writing letters – a great way to engage the brain – lovely for others to receive. Although I need to Google whether sending letters is safe… (Watch this space).
We’re all in the same boat… this might not be a comfort, but it’s true. Everyone is fed up and everyone is bored. Lockdown is starting to take its toll. Still, at least we’re safe and we will get there eventually. We always do.