You're not imagining it. Everyone is feeling off right now.

No, you’re not imagining it.

Apart from the brief, glittery reprieve any cute Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce antics may provide, life, of late, has seemed … a bit s**t.

"Why is everything so fkn BUNG at the moment?" queries one of the members of my beloved group chat. 

"Is Mars in Mercugrade or something?" texts another friend, who, apart from being in need of an astrology refresher course, hits the nail on the head when he continues: "it just seems like a much scarier world than the one in which we were all baking sourdough and watching Tiger King - and that WAS a scary world!"

Burnout, overwhelm, anxiety and depression are nipping at the heels of even the most emotionally robust among us. Couples are splitting up. Kids are pushing us to breaking point. Kids aren't faring much better. 

Julie Sweet, psychotherapist and counsellor at Seaway Counselling and Psychotherapy, says it’s true - more than any other time in her career, she’s seeing an influx of clients reporting feeling, "meh."

"My clinical observation is that recently, several clients have been languishing," she says.

"Clients have been sharing that they feel 'flat', 'blah', 'not myself' and 'can’t shake it' or 'don’t know why'. Many express they feel stagnant and empty, sitting in fear and inertia."

Happy bloody 2024 to us, I suppose.


Watch: How to spot and combat burnout. Post continues after video.

Video via Mamamia.

Of course it’s unsurprising. The allowances of the pandemic (cheaper rents, flexible work arrangements and a reduction in how many children’s play-centre birthdays you’re subjected to on weekends among them) have slowly been stripped back. In addition to this, we in the west have had a front row, unobstructed view via TikTok of all the atrocities in the world. 

"This feeling of discontent is something I’ve found to be cumulative," Sweet continues.

"It’s generally a succession of issues such as the cost of living, work/life balance, comparison, trauma, grief, loss, work and employment instability and discord within intimate relationships."

"Now more than ever my experience is, people are in burnout and feel stretched thin. Many are time poor, financially struggling, pushed beyond their limits, exposed to world events which can cause secondary and vicarious trauma for some and generally feel flooded and overwhelmed."

Sweet says that when faced with any one of the above stressors, a person can continue to function with the right support. 


"With more than one, however, a person’s capacity can be diminished, and their ability to cope with such challenges can negatively impact their mental health and physical wellbeing."

In layman’s terms: a curveball is one thing, but when you’re in a hailstorm of curveballs, you can only hit so many before you throw down the bat and cower in place. 

The answer, suggests Sweet, is a multi-pronged attack that focuses on flexibility rather than white-knuckling through. 

"This is a natural and expected response to collective traumatic events," says Sweet. 

"As humans we seek safety and certainty. Ambiguity can cause us to feel a loss of control and create a dysregulated central nervous system. When we think of things getting better, it may be in our best interest to look at new pathways to promote our agility and adaptation, rather than feel we’ll be resilient enough to sustain what we have been for some time now."

Listen: So…Are We Happy? Post continues after podcast.

Firstly, the basics of mental health hygiene (which are so often the first to go in times of prolonged stress or burnout) are important. 

Sleep, exercise, and getting the right nutrients are boring but crucial when the world is flinging it at us from all angles, and Sweet says that this is also about moving from a survival mindset to a growth mindset, something she admits is "no easy feat".


"When we are in survival mode life can be punitive and extremely stressful," she says, "in growth mode, we can move toward self development and connection."

Part of that is reaching out for help, though Sweet acknowledges we need a better system in place. 

"We need more than the current system we find ourselves in, and it’s imperative to regain our sense of purpose [when we feel we have lost it]," she says. 

"Focusing on interpersonal relationships is key, because we are all interconnected and can learn to feel fulfilment, which in turn leads to us flourishing. We are deserving of this, and with the right tools, we can thrive again."

Sweet says that until then, naming it - telling the world (or at least your group chat) that you’re struggling, or not feeling yourself, is a good first step, "even if it’s just with ourselves to start with."

And while we wait for things to get better, surely it can’t hurt to keep filling our cups with the joy Taylor and Travis' romance provides.

Feature Image: Canva.

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