At the time of lockdown, it would have been easy to think that adjusting to post lockdown life would have gone smoothly and without problems. However, what I have observed is that a lot of people have found it challenging. In particular, I do think post lockdown burnout has been a common theme, especially here in the UK. I feel it is important to talk about this topic so that we appreciate that everyone’s experience of post lockdown life has been different, and not been plain sailing for everyone. Note that whilst I focus on post lockdown burnout over the last few months, it is still important to appreciate that post lockdown burnout will be something lots of people will struggle with for the next few months. Furthermore, everyone is different and has had different experiences, and it is impossible to cover everyone’s experiences in one blog.
One common cause of post lockdown burnout has been due to people trying to make up for lost time. Lockdown and restrictions have been difficult for many people, as they have been deprived of things such as social events, holidays and face to face interaction in general for over a year. Therefore, it is understandable for people to want to catch up with the friends and family members that they haven’t been able to see for over a year, or finally go to the cinema rather than watch a film at home. However, for a lot of people (myself included admittedly), there has been a mindset of doing as much as possible to make up for lost time, which has led to them trying to do everything at once and overdoing it in the process. For example, I spoke to a friend recently who is a third-year university student that said that she is saying yes to social things that she would have said no to if she had got the chance to do it in second year.
Another common cause of post lockdown burnout has been people adjusting to change. Change is daunting and something a lot of people struggle with. Restrictions easing is essentially a change from lockdown, and was something we all had to get used to. Furthermore, there was, and still is a lot of uncertainty around lots of different things related to the pandemic. Adjusting with change and dealing with lots of uncertainty at the same time is tough, and has caused a lot of stress. In my opinion, as this stress is more everyday rather than something that comes and goes randomly, it can make someone more prone to post lockdown burnout.
In my opinion, post lockdown burnout is nothing to be too alarmed about in the majority of cases. Following on from the second paragraph, a good number of people have effectively gone from zero to hundred in that they have gone from very few social plans in a long period of time to lots of social plans in a short period. Whilst this can lead to burnout due to people overdoing it, I don’t think overdoing it was a bad thing given the situation. In my case (and I am sure many others are similar), I had lots of social plans because I wanted to do what was best for my wellbeing when it came to navigating post lockdown, even if I risked overdoing it. Moreover, overdoing social plans is a relatively short-term problem. Following on from the third paragraph, some sort of stress when dealing with both change and uncertainty at the same time is normal. It was expected that post lockdown would come with change and uncertainty, and therefore it was inevitable that post lockdown burnout would be a common theme. In summary, the causes of post lockdown burnout that I have talked about are fairly short term, and therefore I don’t expect post lockdown burnout to be a long-term thing.
My main suggestion for people currently struggling with post lockdown burnout is that it is important to appreciate that trying to rush the recovery from post lockdown burnout can backfire. For example, if the main cause of post lockdown burnout is overdoing it with social plans, then it can be tempting to try to overcome the burnout quickly by either significantly reducing the number of social plans you make, or by saying no to lots of social plans. However, this could lead to you having too few social plans if you are not careful which could harm rather than help your wellbeing, and you could also miss out on some fun social events. Furthermore, trying to rush the recovery from post lockdown burnout can also lead to you putting pressure on yourself, which is never good. It is important to think of overcoming post lockdown burnout as something that takes time by making small progress every day, rather than trying to make fast progress quickly.