Burnout – How Life under Lockdown has gotten to us All

A Koala slumped against a tree trunk.

During the process of lockdown our lives completely transformed overnight, and a year later we are almost back to normal. Even the meaning of what ‘normal’ life is has also changed. More than ever bad news leads in the media and constant online stimulation has taken its toll on lots of people’s mental health. This is where the concept of burnout comes in.

It can be simply defined as a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress. The pandemic on top of everyday life is what introduced me to this concept. I found myself trying to balance university, friends and family as well as news around the pandemic on spinning plates. Inevitably one of the plates was set to smash and trigger a domino effect for the rest of the plates.

Alongside this balancing act life feels like it has been indefinitely paused. With the closure of cafés, restaurants, bars and non-essential shops the ordinary trip to the supermarket has been the highlight of the week for people. Large public gatherings in the form of concerts, sporting events and celebrations like graduations have been missed and rescheduled in the hope of the better times ahead. This is by no means a woe is me scenario as when I speak with friends in Scotland and further afield, we all describe this burnout even if we don’t call it that.

A handful of positives have come from the overnight transformation of life. I find myself only dedicating time to the things that really matter to me learning the art of saying no.  It has taught society the importance of the little things and our health, taken for granted before. The devastating results of the pandemic have shown us all how important and precious life is. This has certainly made my priorities in life shift and taught me lessons of compassion and selflessness.

The purpose of sharing these benefits and drawbacks is not to centre my story but to let you know you aren’t alone. These feelings aren’t bad, wrong or one size fits all. Bringing attention to the idea of burnout gives you a word to explain how you are feeling. You might not be experiencing this feeling, but it is important to understanding many people are during what remains a very confusing time.

The current climate everyone is living in can at times be debilitating but this is a reminder that is okay. No one ever taught us how to deal with a pandemic when we were in school nor prepared us for the results of living in one. What I think is important is to remember to be kind to yourself. At some point over the past year the reality of what is happening across the world has hit you and this is lot of weight to bear on your shoulders alone.

Burnout is real but it isn’t all life has to offer. Reach out, listen to your feelings and remember you aren’t ever alone.

Written by student Emily