How does distress fatigue show up in your life?
Here we go again, difficult things bubbling up everywhere we look... women's rights being shut down in Afghanistan, new data about COVID breakthrough cases including the very real risk of illness for children with school starting in person (and going back online? who knows!), literal fires burning nonstop indicating climate devastation.
Add family distress and conflict at work, a baby who won't sleep, a daughter who is leaving for college, and a huge project you don't want to do, and mix it up thoroughly with the fear that we are going back into a repeat of last Fall's COVID isolation.
Distress fatigue can disguise itself it snappishness or deflection, or it might show up as a chronically sore neck or as a nonstop belly ache. It can also show up as a strong desire to shut down - oversleeping or overeating or withdrawing.
Then consider these three coping mechanisms...
Bring yourself back to your breath. Literally. Put one hand on your belly and another on your cheek and focus on your breath. Notice it, count it, allow your shoulders and belly to relax. Take the time to notice so that you can put a plan in place instead of ruminating or cycling unhealthy thoughts.
Speak out loud, on a regular basis, with a trusted person who can hold space for you. Balloons burst when they are filled too full and so do humans. Provide yourself with a safe, trusted, reliable and regular outlet to talk through complex issues. Let the air out in healthy, helpful ways.
Create a routine heavy on nature, rest, physical movement, community - light on technology and refocus. Notice what you can control and step in. Step up. Walk outside. Go to bed one hour earlier one night a week. Eat whole foods. Put down the phone. Then move the past and the future to the background and focus on the present - the color of the sky, the soft skin of your child's cheek, the challenge of the work assignment, the sunlight streaming across your desk. Those things are just as real as anything else and you will miss them if you aren't paying attention.
Take care of yourself because it is your job, and also so that you can show up for others who count on you.
Distress fatigue is a reminder to stop, evaluate, wake up.
Actions, aligned with values, support optimal health.