This holiday I was so looking forward to finally settling down and having a proper break in our new home with lazy days on the beach and fun times with friends. Instead, after a week in Johannesburg to see family for Christmas we unknowingly brought back an unwanted passenger…. Covid came home with us.
On the day our guests were supposed to arrive to celebrate the coming in of the new year I started with symptoms, and we heard that family we’d been with had tested positive.
I’m sure most of you have been in this place by now- shock, disbelief and throwing on the brakes while every plan crumbles to dust as you face the prospect of days of isolation and the uncertainty of Covid.
Unfortunately, it really knocked my husband and me and 3 weeks later we’re still not 100%. Being ill took me right back to my days of the worst of my Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome when I really wasn’t up for much, when I felt it would never improve and I battled with the anxiety and depression that accompanied feeling powerless and just plain horrible.
Let me just say that the physiological anxiety caused by Covid is a real thing. Yes, there is the psychological anxiety that is fed by the constant stories about Covid. However, there is no doubt that Covid-anxiety and post-Covid anxiety are very real and seem to be related to a nervous system that is feeling threatened by the multi-system imbalance caused by the virus and inflammation, resulting in increased adrenaline and a generally wired nervous system.
I chatted to two doctors recently who had already experienced Covid and the sometimes irrational physiological anxiety that comes with it and they agree with what I shared above.
So, the whole experience provided an opportunity to reflect on and put into practice the lessons I have learned over the years for dealing with chronic fatigue (or any situation where you feel unwell, powerless and stressed, such as Covid):
- Let go of all expectations. ‘Oh no, this is a mild version’ everyone said. Then halfway in as we seemed to be getting worse and not better we heard the stories of someone who had lost 5kgs and was still ill after weeks and a member of our family we’d been with on holiday who was hospitalised because of his Covid.
I had to remember to let go of everyone else’s stories and just let it be my own experience with nothing being good or bad but just what it is. That was the only way to stop catastrophising and to not get attached to an outcome that then caused stress when it didn’t happen.
- Surrender to the experience. Related to point 1 I had to let myself surrender over and over again. I knew that resisting my experience was going to ramp up my nervous system and anxiety which would just result in me being ill for longer. I got to a point where I did not reject the worst that could happen and when I could do that I felt far more at ease with whatever was happening every day.
I often encourage my clients to just let themselves be tired. To fall into that fatigue and deeply feel it. When you can do THAT your fatigue will begin to heal a lot faster. It can be very difficult to do but it gets easier with practice when you realise you’ll be OK when you just let go.
- Consciously calm the nervous system regularly. Some days I just lay on my belly on the grass and let myself be held by the nurturing feminine energy of the earth. Every day I did some 4-7-8 breathing and tuned into the Connection Practice I share with my clients where I could feel held and supported by life. Some days I had to practice the Release Practice I share with my clients to support deeply letting go.
- Embrace all of the feelings – I tried to allow the fear related to how long it was taking to get better, guilt about being a terrible mother as my children spent yet another day watching TV and great waves of sadness and loss about the holiday that was wasting away without us being able to enjoy it. Resisting the feelings just causes them to grow and make you very tired. I used the Connection practice to feel held and supported while I allowed myself to just feel and to hand over the feelings.
- Remember the challenges you’ve overcome. I had to regularly remind myself of my experience of Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome and the darkest days of no sleep with my babies and that It WILL get better one day – just as I had managed to get through those times.
When you are right in it you can only perceive reality from that place but just because you can only feel bad doesn’t mean everything is bad and that it always will be bad. Looking back at challenges over which we’ve triumphed can help us not get caught in a feeling of being stuck.
- Every challenge brings a gift. Yes, the gifts come wrapped in thorns but they’re there! I received the opportunity to process some deep layers of grief around our move and other things that I had not had a chance to fully process with the craziness of the end of the year. Also, I believe how you start the day sets the tone for the day. In the same way this gave me the opportunity to start the year from a place of putting aside all plans and expectations and just allowing it to unfold, and an opportunity to bring that feminine way of being into this year as I get going on a much slower foot.
I’m deeply grateful to all of you who have been so accommodating in me having to cancel and postpone sessions and discovery calls. I’m now slowly getting back into work and listening to my body to guide my pace.
Despite the interrupted start I have such a good feeling about this year and can’t wait to share more value with you and support you to use your fatigue as the gift for growth, balance and flow.