Have you got ‘rave fatigue’?: Why we’re all so tired after lockdown – Features
The tiredness that has come along with the pandemic has been well documented, it’s a phenomenon that even has its own Wikipedia page. But were we naïve to think that we could just get straight back on the horse and cast off our weariness as soon as our beloved venues opened back up again?
“I didn’t really feel very tired when everything first opened back up again,” Danny, who is 27 and works in a bar in East London, tells me. “I was so excited to see my pals and It felt like everything was getting back to normal, then it slowly crept up and I felt washed out. I’m needing two days in bed to get over a couple of drinks.”
Dr Ian H. Newmark, a doctor in pulmonary medicine at Syosset Hospital in New York, told Healthline that many people are exhausting themselves in trying to “trying to catch up on their social activities,” though he added that regardless of how draining it feels “it is certainly helpful to engage in outside activities both from a physical and mental standpoint.”
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Of course, raving could be regarded as an extreme version of “outside activities” — banned in most areas for well over a year-and-a-half, we simply are not used to the toll a big night of partying can take on both our bodies and our heads.
“I’d definitely say that now I can’t really do a full weekend going out,” Sabrina, 25, says: “I go out once and that’s it for the week. I don’t really want to go out again.”
“But what I have found is that I drink a lot more at home. So I’m not going out spending money, being around lots of people in crowded spaces because I feel like I’ve just grown to not enjoy that as much.”
Dr Kent believes as our minds have adjusted to being without much social stimulus, it has led to feelings of anxiety and worry about facing large groups of people once more: “On the one hand the reopening of venues, clubs and hospitality was perceived as a hugely exciting return to normal life. On the other hand, it was hugely daunting.
“Being around large numbers of people – particularly indoors – is something we’d really adapted to not doing regularly, or at all. So whilst we felt anticipation for those missed events, dancing with friends and strangers — the spontaneity related to our social life had all but disappeared during the pandemic.”
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Of course, the missing spontaneity of a night out can also be something that makes us more reluctant to head down to the club – if we’re going to be too hesitant to speak to strangers in the smoking area, then why bother? Would it not be easier to just stay at home with our friends instead?
That randomness of a club night is something that Emily, 25, sorely misses: “Before COVID you met so many people going out and that was the fun of going to these venues. It’s a little awkward now talking to strangers in the club.”
Dr Kent explains that this is due to us feeling pretty out of the loop when it comes to clubbing: ”We are unpractised at dancing in public, small talk with strangers at the bar, physically bumping into or having close contact with strangers and even our good friends, being out of the house for more than a few hours.”
“All of these unlearned habits, which were once such a part of everyday life, were gone, and so with it our energy levels our bodies were practised at managing this balance of work and social life outside the home.”
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Much of the balance that comes with reintroducing ourselves to our “old lives” comes with managing expectations too. We’re becoming frustrated with why it all doesn’t feel “the same” straight off the bat, while having to constantly watch over our shoulders for potential new restrictions, and the loss of our freedoms once more.
“I think that is what’s holding me back,” Amira tells me, “I’m just waiting for the penny to drop and we’re all going to be back in [lockdown] again. You don’t want to become too reliant on going to clubs for fun – because it could be taken away at any moment.”
Dr Kent also believes we should note the toll the pandemic has had on us before we hastily rush into reclaiming the person we were before: “The cumulative trauma we have all been through and this period of huge anxiety and uncertainty have dramatically impacted our energy levels – and emotional resilience.
“None of us are who we were two years ago, and arguably, for better or worse, this period of adjustment and dramatic change to our life will have lifelong impacts and effects mentally and physically.”