Picture this - it’s the middle of the pandemic (you don't really really to picture it - it is everyone's current reality). Working/studying from home doesn’t have the same relaxed feeling it did in spring 2020 and you feel like you’ve lost yourself in the work- eat - sleep - Netflix - and - chill repeat mode. You used to enjoy going out with friends, socializing, going to that dance workout class/ gym but that's all out the window now. You try to pick up the weights that have been catching dust, but you're so exhausted from seemingly doing nothing, so you end up putting on the show you’ve binged three times already. What’s going on? Are you lazy? Have you lost your zest for life? Do you lack willpower?
You are not lazy or lacking discipline. What you are experiencing is ego depletion.
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Ego Depletion happens when you use your available willpower on a certain task, so much so that you are unable to exert self control on another. Research shows that willpower and self control are very similar, and so if you use all your energy in one activity, you self control will decrease. This does not mean you are weak minded! Your willpower is much like a muscle that can be strengthened with exercise but can also experience fatigue when overexerted. Some common causes for ego depletion are emotional distress, illusory fatigue, unfamiliarity, cognitive dissonance and too much or lack of choice - all things that affected us during the pandemic.
Stay tuned for future posts about gentle strategies to work with your ego depletion!