By Nancy Rynes, author of Awakenings from the Light
Article copyright Nancy Rynes
Do you have the post COVID-lockdown blahs? While for most of us the lockdowns are in the past, we may be left with aftereffects we did not expect. Are you feeling apathetic or tired? Maybe you are just not as energetic as you used to be, or have no interest in activities you used to enjoy. Maybe life seems to have lost its luster, or you're struggling to figure out what to do with yourself and your life after the events of the last couple of years. You might even be struggling with lasting effects of having COVID and you're just not feeling as good as you used to.
You are definitely not alone. Many of my clients are feeling impacted by the events of the last couple of years, some including dealing with grief over the loss of loved ones. And a lot of people around the world are feeling the effects of what’s being called “Post-COVID Stress” as well.
I think part of it has to do with just having been isolated from our neighbors, friends, and extended family for the better part of two years. We might have had to stop doing some of the meaningful or even fun activities we used to do because of lockdowns or illness. Physically, if we're dealing with long COVID we might not be able to participate in activities that we enjoy. And having COVID can cause changes to the brain that can increase our likelihood to feel sad or be depressed. Researchers are finding that having COVID-19 actually can compromise brain function. People can experience lasting brain fog, headaches, dizziness, fatigue, attention span problems, memory loss problems, and even some analytical thought challenges. If you are experiencing any of these, make sure you talk to your physician about your symptoms.
Some researchers have also coined the term “Post-COVID Stress Disorder” too. It is an effect of the long term stress associated with COVID. It’s real, it can be serious, so get help from a counselor or therapist. Along with that, counselors are seeing an uptake in the numbers of people with symptoms of a low mood or even depression. Depression is defined as having a low or “down” mood lasting more than two weeks, and it is characterized by not getting any enjoyment out of life, feeling hopeless, feeling tired, not being able to concentrate, comfort eating food or even losing your appetite, sleeping a lot more than usable usual, even having thoughts of harming yourself. So if these feelings don't go away, again, I want to encourage you to get some help from a counselor or someone who's trained in managing depression.
Remember, you are not alone.
But in this article, I want to share with you some tips about getting back out there and enjoying life again.
- Spiritual Practice: If you had a spiritual practice before all of this started but it fell by the wayside, I encourage you to get back into it, even if it's in a small way. Start with gratitude for what you do have, even if you have to dig deep to find something to be grateful for. Now is the time to realign with your spiritual center.
- Connect with Your Tribe: Start reconnecting with others, whether that is in person or online. You might have to challenge yourself to do this if you have gotten into the habit of being alone, but it’s totally worth it. Getting out there and meeting with people again, making more time to see family members or even do more online group activities can help you feel engaged with the world again. Volunteering is also a great way to help others and meet people at the same time.
- Bring Meaning Back into your Life: It’s time to start cultivating meaning in your life if it has slipped away from you the last couple of years. What kinds of things tug at your heart? What brings meaning to your life? For some, it can mean helping others by volunteering. For others, it might be finally writing that novel, or helping out at the local community garden, or spending more time with family and friends.
- Resume Activities: Did you stop working out at the gym, or going to museums, or attending concerts, or art shows, or dog shows, or the county fair? Did you stop traveling, or camping, or going on mini adventures? A lot of us had to limit activities that we enjoyed. If at all possible and you feel safe doing so, I am encouraging you to start taking part in some of them again at least once a week...or even trying new things you have not done before. I asked myself: what did I love to do before COVID? Well, camping, going on long hikes in the mountains, going on photography excursions, visiting a museum or art gallery, or just exploring new areas. During the lockdowns I had to give a lot of that up just like everyone else. But then I got in the habit of being at home even after restrictions eased. People who have known me for a long time know I’m not the happiest person staying indoors for very long. I get a bit grumpy. Knowing that about myself, I have set a goal of getting out and going on a small adventure at least twice a week. For me this is a hike, or visiting a museum, exploring ancient sacred sites, or going on a little photo excursion. Doing this has helped me tremendously.
- Exercise: I make sure that I get exercise every day in some way or another and that could be going out for a bike ride on a trail, going for a walk in my neighborhood, or hiking. Exercise is great for the mind, spirit, AND body. If you've gotten out of shape during COVID, and lot of us have, now is the time to start working out again either at home, in a gym, or outside.
- Be Kind Yourself and Others: Coming back from a global health challenge like COVID is is difficult. Many people did get sick from this virus, and many passed away from it. That’s life-changing and scary stuff. It is not an easy thing to deal with everything that happened, and the ways our lives might have changed. Give yourself a break. If you get tired, rest. If you need to talk to someone, call a trusted friend. Watch a comedy movie and have a laugh. If lived alone through this whole pandemic, be even more kind to yourself. It is challenging enough for some of us to live alone, but then slap lockdowns on top of it and we can feel even more isolated. Take this time to increase your self care, whatever that looks like for you.
- Eat Healthfully: The foods you consume are super-important in how you feel, physically, mentally, and emotionally. If you spent the last couple of years eating a lot comfort food, now’s the time to take back your diet and eat healthfully again. Limit processed foods, sugars, and other junk. Not only will it help you lose weight, but changing your diet for the better can actually help you feel better emotionally, and may help improve your brain function as well.
Above all, I encourage you to start getting out there and reconnecting with life again in whatever way makes sense for you.
Archive: Past Newsletter Issues
TODAY Show: Nancy's Interview on NBC TV's TODAY
Anthony Chene Documentary: Nancy's Interview
Messages of Hope with Suzanne Giesemann: Exploring NDEs with Nancy Rynes
Article: Seven Lessons That Dying Taught Me About Truly Living (Aspire Magazine)
Article: Lives Changed by NDEs (Boulder Daily Camera)
Article: Awakening to Life(Pages 6-10, Journal of Exceptional Experiences and Psychology, Summer 2016)
Article: The Meaning of Life (Excellence Reporterr)