Dr. Doireann O’Leary on isolation exhaustion and why we’re tired from doing nothing.
For some reason, even though most of us are actually doing less, we feel more tired. Even though working from home requires less movement, by the end of the day we are still exhausted.
So what’s the reason for this? Why does doing far less with our day make us extremely tired? EVOKE spoke to the wonderful Dr. Doireann O’Leary and asked her for her thoughts surrounding this.
Next up Dr. Doireann spoke about anxiety, as it’s something a lot of people are suffering from at the moment.
She said: ‘A symptom of anxiety in itself can be tiredness, if I ever have someone come to me and they’re overly tired or can’t concentrate, that can often be down to stress, anxiety or depression and I think that there’s nobody at the moment that has no level of anxiety.
‘I mean even the most calm people, there’s so much uncertainty. If you don’t even think you’re feeling it, the uncertainty is going to cause anxiety in everyone which can then cause tiredness.’
Sleep and Routine
Doireann shared: ‘It’s really important to go to bed at the same time every night and get up at the same time every morning. You tire yourself out during the day and you’ll sleep well at night. You know you’re physically and mentally tired and then you’ll sleep well.
‘Whereas when you don’t have that routine, if you’re not going to bed at the same time every night, your alarm clock is going off in the morning, your sleep is probably poorer quality because you’re not properly tired and so not properly sleeping well.’
The Cork GP continued: ‘You might be sleeping less as well because you don’t necessarily have to get up in the morning and you might be like ‘oh it doesn’t matter if I’m up till midnight scrolling’, so I think that a lot of it is down to a lack of routine and a lack of sleep quality, which makes people really tired or exhausted throughout the day.’
Speaking about another reason for exhaustion, Dr. Doireann spoke about the mental side of it: ‘Another part of the isolation exhaustion is the fact there’s such an overwhelming wave of new information, it’s information go go go.
‘The first two weeks of this I was wrecked with the constant new information because it’s overwhelming. It’s psychologically and mentally exhausting trying to absorb all this new information you know because it’s coming at us and changing every day.’
She continued: ‘There’s always something new every single day and it can be exhausting. People are hard on themselves asking why are they exhausted when they didn’t do anything but their adapting and learning to this new situation and that takes energy.’
When asked for what can help this, Doireann gave some ideas from setting a routine, to drinking less alcohol during the week.
She said: ‘Go to bed at the same time and get up at the same time. Have a routine to try and mimic your normal work-day, get up and have your coffee. Be really strict with yourself Monday to Friday and then at least when the weekend comes you can switch off and do nicer things.’
‘Exercise is also so important for your body clock, it helps you to go to sleep at night and your sleep quality and then you know when you sleep better it will help with anxiety that you have. It will also energize you.’
The GP also shared one tip people might not like to hear: ‘Avoid drinking during the week, then you have something to look forward to. Even try something mindful, like coloring or meditation to keep your mind off the news and everything going on.’
But to finish she also wanted people to know there’s always help available: ‘But if someone is really struggling with tiredness or anxiety they can always reach out to their GP or doctor, know that they’re there to help.’