Surviving the day…. “Pandemic Fatigue”

We’ve had the annoying Pandemic clichés, the  covid takeaways, and the daily updates.  The zoom parties are dwindling and Duolingo may be a distant memory that still lingers in your phone applications,  and with summer camps few and far between the kids are still melting our heads. covid fatigue The Covid pandemic has delivered more changes to our lives in the past few months than many of us have experienced in the previous few years. Daily routines and interactions have changed for us all. School changed for the kids, many have lost jobs while those lucky to keep them have had to get used to working in the confines of our own homes or within alien environments with necessary new rules and guidelines to follow.  Social media showers us with constant information and updates of the pandemics status, it calls on us to finish that “covid project” or write that book or learn Portuguese. All while just trying to  survive and get through another strange day, looking forward to sitting down and enjoy a glass of wine in the evening. Just as you sit down to take the first sip then Ann Doyle on the news at nine tells you you’re drinking too much!  Home schooling, constant handwashing, paranoia and social isolation …..  Is it any surprise that many of us are exhausted and may be suffering from pandemic fatigue, quarantine exhaustion and stress is real.

Stress can grow from many sources – money worries, family issues, relationships, work. Sometimes it’s a single dramatic event, sometimes is a multiple tiny cuts that build to a bigger wound. Stress has short and long term negative effects on the body, it can cause muscle pains, stomach upsets, headaches, nausea, dizziness, speed the development of chronic diseases, the list can go on. These past months have been enough to move the most “Zen” of people  to distraction. So if you’ve found that your normal training run or exercise routine feels tougher than normal, that’s understandable. Mental fatigue, exhaustion, stress and loneliness  has negative effects on physical performance (Stults-Kolehmainen, Bartholomew and Sinha, 2014; Lopes et al., 2020). The other reason training has been tough is that hard exercise feels worse when you experience it alone (do Carmo et al., 2020) – which, again, most of us have been diligently doing until the easing lockdown restrictions.

There is lots of recommendations for coping with stress- self-care, avoiding sugar, reducing alcohol intake, sharing thoughts and talking to loved ones. But exercise is one of the primary mechanisms consistently recommended for dealing with stress; the exact mechanism of how it works is unknown, but it is thought that by learning to cope with the physical stress caused by exercise, allows the body to practice coping better, allowing body systems trial runs at communicating better together. The body adapting to cope makes sense to me but I also think of the Viktor Frankel quote

‘in the space between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom’.

In running like in life, if anything is to be achieved from jogging one mile  to finishing a marathon,   the mind, body and spirit must work together. So currently it’s probably more important to focus on remaining sane rather than worrying about making progress on your latest masterpiece, fluency in Italian or even running a 5km personal best……. Just survive the day and get to that glass of rioja.

References

do Carmo, E. C., Barroso, R., Renfree, A., da Silva, N. R., Gil, S. and Tricoli, V. (2020) ‘Affective Feelings and Perceived Exertion During a 10-km Time Trial and Head-to-Head Running Race’, Int J Sports Physiol Perform, pp. 1-4.

Lopes, T. R., Oliveira, D. M., Simurro, P. B., Akiba, H. T., Nakamura, F. Y., Okano, A. H., Dias Á, M. and Silva, B. M. (2020) ‘No Sex Difference in Mental Fatigue Effect on High-Level Runners’ Aerobic Performance’, Med Sci Sports Exerc.

Stults-Kolehmainen, M. A., Bartholomew, J. B. and Sinha, R. (2014) ‘Chronic Psychological Stress Impairs Recovery of Muscular Function and Somatic Sensations Over a 96-Hour Period’, The Journal of Strength & Conditioning Research, 28(7).

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I qualified with an Honours degree in Physiotherapy from Trinity College Dublin in 2004. Since graduating I have worked in St. James Hospital Dublin and have worked in all the areas of speciality within the hospital including cardiorespiratory, orthopaedics, rheumatology, care of the elderly, neurology, burns and plastic surgery among others . I have also completed a post graduate certificate in acupuncture in UCD 2009. The Physiotherapy Department in SJH has strong links with Trinity College Dublin (TCD) and I have supervised undergraduate and postgraduate physiotherapy students on practice placements and also delivered lectures on the undergraduate academic programme in TCD. I have a keen interest in all sports and currently plays with Cill Dara RFC 1st team squad, and Milltown GAA. I have previously worked as Physiotherapist to Co. Carlow Senior GAA Team, Milltown GAA, Leinster Junior Rugby Team and Cill Dara RFC. I am an experienced runner and competed in the Dublin City Marathon in 2002. I continue to participate in running events and multisport disciplines such as Gaelforce West, Gaelforce North and the Motivate Challenge. I have a particular interest in strength and conditioning. I utilise this knowledge of resistance training in the treatment of his clients. I am committed to continuous learning and development in order to ensure the optimal level of care is offered to my clients, and with this in mind I am currently undertaking a certification in Strength and Conditioning (CSCS) with the NSCA.

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