So many conversations these days are about tiredness. Two full years of the pandemic have created multiple sources of fatigue for many of us. A colleague who loves being around people tells me how the isolation of working from home has tired him out. Unfortunately, his office, which had reopened for a few weeks, shut down again recently because of the third wave of the coronavirus. A friend speaks about her elderly mother, who recently underwent a bout of covid illness, and has now turned increasingly cranky and irritable. As the primary caregiver who also has to deal with the pressures of the pandemic, my friend is feeling fatigued too.
Then, there are conversations about online learning fatigue being faced by our children and Zoom fatigue that has become part for the corporate course.
These are difficult circumstances, and it is important to be sensitive and kind when we engage in these discussions. But many of us are now reaching a crossroads, where we realise that we are actually tired of being tired.
Talking about illness, isolation and loss saps a lot of our positive mental energy. It requires significant stamina to display commiseration or empathy when this becomes a recurring subject of conversation, though we may genuinely feel the pain at the other end of the line.
And yet our roles at home and in the office require this of us. So, how do we counteract all this talk of consistent tiredness? How can we untire ourselves, and bring as much happiness and peace as possible into our busy lives affected by the pandemic?
Of course, the need to eat good nutritious food and sleep well is a pre-requisite to being healthy and happy. Both these topics have been covered in detail by a number of health and wellness experts and hence are not addressed further here in this column.
This alone, however, is not enough, because a lot of the perceived fatigue arises and sits deep in our minds. We also need to do other things regularly to untire ourselves.
Talk, talk, talk
A good way to start is to engage in positive conversations with colleagues, family and friends. There are some people who are naturally positive and optimistic, notwithstanding the circumstances. So maximizing happy conversations with them can take our fatigue away. We need to initiate positive subjects of conversation wherever and whenever we can.
Conversations about something creative, interesting or beautiful, such as the hibiscus flowers that are blooming in your terrace garden, or the Hyderabadi chicken biryani you ordered for lunch last weekend, or how an important office presentation came together superbly despite the challenges of collaborating remotely—all these topics can bring a moment of joy in our lives , even if momentarily. Don’t wait for positive conversations to occur naturally, take the lead and set the tone yourself.
It is likely you will emerge untired at the end of the discussion.
Creating the occasions to laugh a little, every day, is a great antidote to fatigue. Laughter lightens the moment and boosts our energy levels. Some people are natural humourists and even serious meetings take on a happy tone when they are present. The rest of us can also try our hand at sparking some laughter, without worrying too much about our little jokes falling flat.
Try narrating a humorous incident from your own life or see the funny side of office work. There is a lot of this around, if we only care to look for it. Laughter on the dining table is another great opportunity, though this generally requires collective meal occasions without the distracting clutter of our mobile phones and laptops.
Exercise is always a good idea
While working from home, I have found that getting off my chair and taking even a small brisk walk helps release my happy hormones. The more sedentary I am, the more listless I feel. This is particularly true of office workers like myself, where a lot of time these days is spent in front of our laptops and phones. Staring at a computer screen for several hours each day holds no redemption and is a definite recipe for fatigue. A brief walk inevitably restores my mental strength, and a short outdoor walk in the sun does that even better.
And go ahead, do nothing
We can also untire ourselves by doing absolutely nothing for some time every day. Resisting the urge to engage in that one final task for the day when you are feeling the onset of tiredness, or switching off from the challenging environment around us by listening to music, or merely sitting in that favourite corner at home—all these help us to create “do-nothing” spaces, which can refresh our minds. There was a pre-pandemic time when I sometimes felt guilty about not doing anything. But not anymore, and certainly not in these times. We owe ourselves the happiness that it can inject into our lives.
Harish Bhat works with the Tata group. These are his personal views. He untires himself by writing, and he thinks this is perhaps true of every creative pursuit.
Also read: Why daydreaming is a good thing