Our Journey Out of This Pandemic

Mental Health

Our journey out of this pandemic has been longer, more confusing, and messier than a lot of us expected.

If you’re feeling emotionally exhausted and burnt-out, you’re not alone. Now is the time to face those feelings head-on and give yourself the gift of a purpose-focused break. Ideally in the sunshine. After a nap. Here’s my story, and an invitation to join me on a journey to rebuild.

About this time last year, Malia Jones and I coined the term pandexit – the messy, halting, confusing labyrinth we must navigate to get out of a pandemic. We were right about the uncertainty of the last year, but were, perhaps, a bit too optimistic about just how messy and halting and confusing escaping the COVID labyrinth would be.

Are you emotionally and physically exhausted? Burnt-out? Frustrated by the changing and inconsistent rules of various schools, organizations, and agencies?

We see you.

And yep, we feel all. this. too.

For some of us, this pandexit period has been even more emotionally draining than the first phases of the pandemic because we’ve been asked to go on as if things are “normal” amidst uncertainty, dashed hopes, and increasing frustration no matter what side of any pandemic issue you’re on.

In January most of my family and I got COVID. Then I broke my foot. And then when I got a minor virus a few weeks later, it turned into COVID-related pneumonia. The classic symptoms came roaring back: fatigue, brain fog, dizziness.

Sound familiar?

This is the story of so many of us (especially women) during the last year.

I decided to practice what I preach: I took a few days off, slept as much as possible and thought about what mattered most to me, why it mattered, the fears and anxieties that were coming up and trying to stop me in my tracks, and how to rebuild a life that would be more workable moving forward from here.

I’m still a work-in-progress, but I invite you to join me on the journey.

1️⃣ Grab a journal or a notebook, and a pencil.
2️⃣ Block some time. Maybe outside if the weather is nice. (Sun helps most things.)
3️⃣ Answer the following questions, and think, in particular, of the new realities you’re facing in your life – the new problems, the new opportunities, and the ongoing uncertainties.

🟡 What are the three core values that I want to guide me in this next phase?
🟡 What are my three strengths that I want to highlight in this next chapter?
🟡 Who are the people, groups or causes I want to invest my (always … but especially now) limited energy in going forward?
🟡 What are the fears and anxieties that are holding me back at this moment?
🟡 What are three commitments I can make that will help me take action—using my limited resources, in keeping with my values—and make meaning in ongoing times of uncertainty?

These aren’t easy questions. But if you can answer them, you’re likely to be able to boost your sense of purpose and meaning. Research shows that when we know why we are doing what we’re doing, we’re more likely to feel like we can make it happen and that leads to a boost in life satisfaction.

The struggle is real, and there are no quick-fixes. The pandexit has been longer and messier than I predicted.

But I’m emerging from the darkness of exhaustion and burnout by asking and answering these questions myself. And I hope you’ll join me.

Christine Whelan, PhD
Your “Happy Prof.” Nerdy Girl

Pandexit story from 2021

On women, work and emerging from the pandemic

On why purpose helps us boost life satisfaction (among other things)

For your own downloadable purpose statement exercise – instruction video and PDF

Link to Original FB Post