Exhaustion in the Age of the “New Normal”

by placers on August 7, 2020 in Outside Insights


It’s officially August – about six months since news of a formidable virus with a strange name infiltrated the headlines. For six months, we’ve seemingly been in a constant state of alert while adjusting to a “new normal” – one that will never really feel normal. A reality where we’re continually asking ourselves, what comes next?

If you’ve ever lived in an apartment, you’re familiar with the sound of an upstairs neighbor removing their shoes above you. One shoe hits the floor and makes a sound…and then the other.

Today, it’s easy to feel like these figurative neighbors are dropping shoes at random times – we’re always just waiting for the next one to drop. Tomorrow, today, in minutes?

It’s exhausting – and people are tired. I see it all around me – hell, I see it in the mirror many mornings.

Leaders who feel like they must have all of the answers even though answers are far and few between.

My weary employees who will never admit it or lose their fight.
Members of my family who are working on reserves after six months of constant vigilance.

My customers who are exasperated, challenged with opportunity and angst in a twist and bind like never before presented.

Yes, it feels like 2020 will never just let us rest. So, how do we deal with it?

We lead. Right now, the world needs leaders. No, I’m not just talking politics. We need effective leaders in businesses, communities, and homes. Leaders who show themselves as much grace as they do for others, who can see the beauty on the horizon when the storm clouds are still rolling in, who understand the importance of unity. Because, if we want to overcome the challenges of today and the obstacles of tomorrow, we need to be on the same side.

We take a break – and we encourage others to do the same. At Placers, I see work zombies who are pouring their heart and soul into their jobs. While I’m grateful, I also recognize that they’re human and only have so much to give. Today, rest has never been more important. People aren’t logging off at five to unwind anymore – they’re always on high alert. If you’re a leader, tell your people to take a break. Don’t wait or expect them to ask for it. And if you need a break, take it.

We observe and release. We need to “let go” of more things than we have before. Though we don’t like to admit it, there are only so many things we can control. What we allow to consume our minds will always be something that we have sole control over (even if it doesn’t feel that way). When toxic thoughts enter your mind, observe them for a moment and then release them.

We look to history for answers. People have been here before. The “Antonine Plague,” of 165 BC, Spanish flu of 1918, SARS, all followed a similar trajectory. I find comfort in knowing that epidemics have always occurred two to three times per century.

We find gratitude. If there’s one thing that 2020 has taught us, it’s that life and its everyday miracles should never be assumed or taken for granted. Being grateful for our health is stating the obvious. The experiences we wouldn’t have thought twice about before are the ones we long for now – human connection, high-fives, smiles you can see, the locally owned pub down the street, concerts where strangers become friends for one night, etc. I know that when life regains normalcy my perspective will be changed for the better. The “small” things won’t seem near as small.

If you’re feeling depleted, drained, or just outright exhausted right now – that’s okay. You’re human. Give yourself permission to feel less than perfect. Then, give yourself permission to feel good even when the world feels upside down. Find healthy coping mechanisms that feed your soul. You won’t be tired forever.

How do you manage stress, anxiety, and exhaustion? These past few months, I’ve been working on creating and sticking to an effective morning routine. Predictable and still moments in the morning have really helped me cope with the stressors of today – a topic I’ll explore within an upcoming Outside Insights. What coping mechanisms have you found work best for you? Reply to this email and let me know, let’s discuss.

Wondering what to read next? Discover how I find peace in chaos.


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