21 Jul Why am I so Exhausted?: Social Life Post-Pandemic
Paul came to the Zoom screen looking exhausted, yawning after every answer to my checking-in questions. “What’s going on?” I finally asked him. “Are you sleeping ok?” “I guess,” he mumbled. I started asking him about his schedule for the past week. “Normal?” he said. “I’ve been going to a bike camp, then did a couple overnights at friends, then our family went camping this weekend.” “Wait,” I said, “that sounds like a lot more than a month ago!” “Well yay,” said Paul, “a month ago we weren’t really seeing friends yet, or going to camps or taking any trips. Now we get to do all our normal stuff.”
Dalila started talking as soon as we checked the sound and video of Zoom. “I just can’t do it. I can’t do it all! My friends want to do happy hours, my husband wants to go on dinner dates, my kids want to swim in every available lake, my extended family wants me to fly out visit, my church wants me to start leading youth group again, my office wants me to work from the office for part of the week; it’s too much! I’m going crazy!” “What’s changed?” I asked. Dalila has always had a busy schedule, and we’d spent several sessions talking through her frustrations. “What’s different now is people seem to think the whole world is open again, and they want to make up for lost time. I’m so overwhelmed and feel very guilty.”
This summer is a time of transition for all of us, perhaps similar to a bear coming out of hibernation! Our social skills, physical stamina and mental sharpness are simply not what they were before the pandemic. It’s going to take all of us some time to re-adjust to the world as it is today. With his parents’ support, Paul worked on adding in some more rest time into his schedule. They created a list of “quiet time” activities, and supported Paul in balancing his high energy time with purposeful relaxation and calm. Dalila and I sorted through all her social options, and began to put together a summer schedule that reflected balance of time spent with friends, family, work, and personal life. She set boundaries with her extended family (travel is not an option right now for her, but they were welcome to come visit) and clarified her work responsibilities (weekly attendance for an in-person meeting was required). Dalila also made sure to balance social time with alone or quiet time, to allow her system to get used to the new world. Take time this week to find the balance that works for you!