Combat COVID Fatigue
This year has been everything but normal. Within a matter of days, our lives were changed. While each person has a different story to share, overall everyone has one thing in common – quarantine.
Before March 2020, no one expected schools, businesses, places of worship, malls, movie theaters, etc. to close for an extended period. After several months of following protocols and seeing spikes and trends, people are tired and want to go back to normal life – life pre-COVID. While you may be tired of taking continuous precautions and putting certain portions of your life on hold, it’s also the right thing to do in order to protect everyone and minimize the spread of the virus. Marissa Leslie, MD, chief of psychiatry with Adventist HealthCare, defines COVID fatigue and ways to cope.
“Medical professionals refer to the exhaustion of being cautious, scared, anxious, staying inside and not being able to see beloved friends and family as “COVID fatigue,” explains Dr. Leslie. People want to get back to their ‘normal’ lives pre-COVID but unfortunately, we don’t know when that will be. For those who live alone and can’t see their friends and family, it hits harder. Being away from the ones you love causes pain and loneliness. It’s hard when you are told you can’t hang out with friends or family to limit spread of the virus.
Ways to Cope
Over the summer, people were able to have a small taste of normalcy, but now it’s back to taking stricter precautions again as cases are on the rise across the United States. “This can bring back memories for some that are less than ideal and cause hopelessness and loneliness especially with the holidays are near,” says Dr. Leslie. Below are some ways to help you cope with COVID fatigue.
Check-in with your friends, family members and neighbors and ask them how they are doing and let them know that you can help if they need anything. Those who are older or immune compromised may not want to go out in public as the cases of COVID-19 begin to rise again. Just because you can’t see them in person doesn’t mean you still can’t check-in. Still plan those Girls’ Nights and family dinners, just do it virtually.
Exercise can help you to relieve any stress you may have and clear your mind. Working out for 60 minutes a day gives you something to look forward to and lets you focus on yourself.
Talk it Out
Talking to others about how you feel can let you know that you’re not alone and others are feeling the same way. You can also talk to a professional using telehealth. You can receive professional help and guidance even when you’re at home.
Practice, Faith, Mindfulness and Gratitude
Being involved in faith practices, being mindful and practicing gratitude can be difficult in hard times but makes you thankful for what you have. It helps you to look at the positive side of things instead of always focusing on the negatives, including what you might be missing out on. Research supports the sustained benefits of gratitude practices even beyond one week of journaling about the things you are grateful for and why.
Remember, while we must stay physically distant from others, that doesn’t mean you have to stop being social. There are other ways you can connect with the ones you love. While you can’t be physically close, visiting with loved ones can be done safely by keeping at least six feet apart, meeting up outside and wearing a mask the entire time. You can also visit from the safety of your vehicle. If you don’t feel you can safely meet up with someone, schedule a phone call or video chat. Find different ways to make it fun through virtual games and contests.
Be Aware of What You’re Watching
Watching the news can cause information overload making you anxious and stressed. While it is important to be informed, schedule time during the day to turn the news off and focus on something else. Even new TV shows are based around COVID-19, so if your escape is watching your favorite show, make sure you are in the mindset to watch an episode related to the pandemic. If you don’t feel ready, find something else to watch that doesn’t discuss COVID-19 until you are mentally prepared.
Journaling can be a great way to express yourself, how you’re feeling and what you are experiencing. Having a place to express yourself privately can help you translate how you feel without feeling the need that anyone won’t understand. Plus, you can include your experiences and what you’ve been doing throughout the pandemic and have something to look back on years down the road.
COVID is going to be in our lives for a long time. Continuing to take the appropriate measures now will help us get back to normal faster. “Find your escape from COVID-19 in order to help combat any COVID fatigue you’re experiencing and remember if you feel your mental health suffering, schedule a telehealth visit to speak with a professional,” says Dr. Leslie.