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You Have Too Much Free Time — and Other Reasons You’ve Been Exhausted These Days

Is quarantine draining the life force out of you?

Renata Gomes
May 20, 2020 · 4 min read

Your neck is stiff. One or both of your shoulders are, too. Your eyes feel as if they haven’t been properly hydrated in years, and the muscle right underneath the right one seems to have developed a twitch —every day at 6 pm sharp, it strikes.

Your brain hasn’t been doing much better than the rest of you. Your thinking is foggy, slow, and you’re sleepy all the time — when you don’t have a killing headache, that is.

You’re not sure why you’re so damn tired, you’re not doing anything. You’re not going anywhere.

You’re not taking a 45min commute to work in bumper-to-bumper traffic every day, you’re not going out with your friends and coming home at 3 am, drunk and exhausted every Friday night. You’re not even going to the gym anymore.

But the fact remains you’re exhausted. And if you can’t figure out why, here are a few possibilities.

You’ve been spending a record-setting amount of time in front of screens. We all have. Whether it’s your computer, the TV, or your phone, it’s not like you have much else to do all day. Plus, there are all of those zoom meetings and Skype calls you’re supposed to attend.

Eye strain, headaches, and neck stiffness are all symptoms of screen fatigue. And then there’s cybersickness, a side-effect of endlessly scrolling on your phone.

Too many hours in front of a screen might be causing the world around you to feel a bit unreal, a bit intangible, whenever you do lift your head up to look around.

Exercise plays an important role in regulating your entire life, probably more than you give it credit for. It helps regulate your circadian rhythm (sleep patterns), your metabolism, and even your appetite.

Exercise produces endorphins, and as we all know from Legally Blonde, endorphins make people happy.

Getting your blood pumping through exercise helps you feel more, not less energetic. Lack of exercise is definitely making you tired and cranky, especially if you were used to a certain routine and stopped it dead in its tracks once quarantine hit.

Human beings not only crave physical touch, they need it to thrive. Being touch starved is a thing — and if you’ve been quarantining alone, it’s definitely a thing that’s affecting you.

Human touch can help regulate levels of oxytocin and cortisol, combating stress and calming your anxiety down.

If you’re quarantining with a significant other or with family, you can (and should) still hug them. Don’t let petty grievances like who’s doing the dishes drive a wedge between you and get in the way of much-needed skin to skin time.

If you still have a job with a boss and scheduled meetings, too much free time is less of a problem. But if you’re self-employed and have seen your regular clients pull out their business one after the other for the past two months, or if you have recently been let go, free time seems to be all you have.

Having too much free time feels like a blessing at first, but it’s actually a trap. Without the constraints of your regular busy day, with places to go and people to see, you run the risk of falling into the Limbo of Lost Hours.

In the Limbo of Lost Hours, those 5 mins “checking Twitter real quick” easily turn into 20. That hour it should take you to write a Medium story easily turns into three hours of mindlessly surfing the internet in the vague disguise of “doing research.”

In the Limbo of Lost Hours, “just one episode” on Netflix becomes an entire season — and it’s ok, you “have time plenty of time” to get to whatever you meant to do later.

Except you never do.

Having constraints on your time — such as errands to run, appointments to keep, and time set aside to spend with your friends — puts pressure on you to be productive with the time you have to get some work done.

Having too much free time causes you to spend longer than you’d actually need on a task. All that time spent creates the illusion the task required more of your energy than it actually did, therefore making you needlessly tired.

Tasks haven’t suddenly become twice as hard on quarantine, you’ve been taking twice as long on a task — just because you can. Create constraints for your time and watch yourself become instantly more productive, and way less tired.

You’re not crazy. You have more than enough reasons to feel more tired than usual these days, and if you need extra time to rest, make sure to take it.

There’s no shame in needing to recharge.

But keep in mind, you’re not powerless in the face of what’s been going on, and small changes in how you spend your day can do wonders to get you going again.

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