Lately there’s been a lot of media coverage about “languishing” and people experiencing stress due to COVID-19 restrictions.

I hate to admit it, but I think I have finally succumbed to COVID burnout. I managed quite well over the last year, but the late spring and the mountains of snow have taken their toll. It was a long wait to see our field full of snow transform into a temporary pond and the paths on our rural property turn to mushy, muddy paths. I have finally hung up my snowshoes. I’m seeing fuzzy, grey crocus heads peeking out of the ground and soon they’ll unfurl to reveal their purple petals.

At the beginning of the COVID lockdown, we were just moving into the spring season. I had ambitious plans to do more writing, creative activities, gardening, camping and learning new things. I did much of that and felt thankful that I had the time, energy and resources, but as COVID conditions continued, my energy lagged in the last few months. Now I feel unfocused, listless, unmotivated, sometimes irritable and just plain lazy!

Unfortunately I seem to have run out of steam. I usually manage to go for daily walks and enjoy the outdoors, but my creative pursuits and the long list of spring-cleaning tasks lie in wait. With no guests coming for dinner or visiting inside, we seem to have gotten used to the accumulation of items that migrate from our various personal spaces to the dining room table, kitchen counter and entryway. Now that our deck and BBQ are clear of snow, we’ll soon be able to have friends over. Hopefully that will result in us catching the spring-cleaning bug at our house.

Will we all be gardening in earnest this year? Perhaps, like me, you’ve started your vegetable, herb and flower seeds, and put in your order for local bedding plants. I bought my seeds in early March to ensure I wouldn’t be caught by the seed shortage like last year. Anyone need some pea seeds? I seem to have a stockpile. Last May when I went to look for manure and peat moss, it was not to be found in the stores. I’ll be sure to get it early this year when it becomes available. I experiment with trying a new veggie or flower variety every season. Last year it was the broccoflower known as Romanesco broccoli. It is bright green and has odd spear-like shapes jutting out across its surface. It’s beautiful and tasty! I’ll have to see what new variety of veggies or flowers attracts me this year.

As an older adult, I’m well aware of the changes that are occurring that are out of my control, many of them related to physical changes in my body. Although the physical limitations may result in a slower pace, shorter walking distance and less hill climbing on a bike, I will take whatever opportunity I can to be outdoors moving and using my body as much as I can. Since the campgrounds opened up on May 1, I’ve been looking into exploring more of the Yukon in our camper van. I’ll take my watercolour pencils and do some sketches of wildflowers on the rainy camping days. I’ll take photos to capture the scenery for future collage and watercolour painting inspiration. I also plan to write more and finally get serious about putting together the collection of memoir writing I’ve done. I’m hoping to burst out of the COVID bubble and get the creative juices flowing with renewed energy.

During the winter months I was less inclined to get out of bed when it was dark in the morning, or go for an evening walk using my headlamp to guide me. Now it’s wonderful to still have light in the sky at 9:30 pm. Our solar array is chugging out up to 76 kilowatt hours and producing up to $14 on the sunniest days!

I feel renewed energy now after having publicly admitted my “spring slump.” I also now recognize that this happens to me every year after the dark, cold days of winter. Hey, it’s not COVID burnout, it’s just getting over the winter doldrums!
Hope you’ll take time to jump into some of those mud puddles, collect pussy willows, look for the first crocus or bluebird and count the swans flying north. If that doesn’t work to lift your spirits, reach out for support from your family, friends or community mental health resources.

We’re in a time of transition. A transition into spring, but also a transition into a new and hopefully better “normal” after our year of isolation. Spring brings renewal. May the increasing light and warmer weather bring a renewed spring to your step!