It’s safe to say that many people are getting sick and tired of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. This is called “pandemic fatigue” and it’s a real phenomenon. The abrupt and seemingly endless changes that the pandemic has brought about is like other “kinds of health-related behavior changes — including increasing physical activity, eating healthy, and decreasing tobacco use — at least half of people relapse within six months” according to a recent article by TheConversation.com.
Currently, we are about six months in and people are bound to relapse as regions and states of the U.S. are re-opening/lessening restrictions, but at the same time, there are places that are ramping up restrictions due to increased cases. If you’re not in an area where there are rising cases, it might be easy to think that the threat is no longer as much as it was months ago.
Social isolation is also a factor in pandemic fatigue, especially for this long! With holidays like Thanksgiving, Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kwanzaa approaching, it’s going to be even more difficult for people to live in isolation and not have their usual celebrations with their loved ones. While hand-washing and mask-wearing are individual choices, social distancing is the most difficult to do when it’s been months of not seeing friends and family members.
Group gatherings still pose a risk — no matter how small! Even if you are sick of social distancing, you should still weigh all the factors for getting together with friends and family. Here are the signs of pandemic fatigue according to UCLA Health:
The hallmark sign of pandemic fatigue is a sense of inner weariness. You may also feel:
You may notice that you:
- Eat or sleep more or less than usual
- Have trouble focusing (brain fog)
- Feel edgy or nervous
- Snap at or argue with others
- Lack motivation
- Are unable to stop racing thoughts
- Withdraw from others
Now, you’re probably wondering how you can minimize the effects of pandemic fatigue and cope with it in a healthy way. These are the recommendations made by UCLA Health:
- Take care of your body – Practicing self-care is important with or without a pandemic factoring into the daily equation. Get enough sleep and eat healthy to improve your mood and immune system!
- Limit your news intake – With the 2020 Presidential Election and constant coronavirus updates, there has been too much news and information! Much of it is negative content, which you don’t need emotionally, so take some breaks or limit your exposure to the news per day.
- Lower your stress – This may seem like a cop-out recommendation and something that could prove difficult, but you can do some simple things even if you’re short on time: breathing exercises, yoga, nature walks, reading, and watching a comedy.
- Connect with others – While it may seem stale, you can still connect with others without being physically near them. You can make phone calls, set up video meetings, chat on social media or via text messages, write letters, or attend an online class or conference.
- Accept your feelings – Don’t think that what you’re experiencing is abnormal! Recognize and express your feelings, whether it’s to yourself or those in your household. Reach out to a mental health expert if you feel like you cannot deal with your emotions on your own, which is okay to admit!
- Try positive self-talk – There are a lot of “what if” thoughts buzzing around many people’s minds. Try to be realistic, but also positive like what you’re doing to be safe rather than worrying about if you will contract COVID-19.
- Create new traditions – Plan something to look forward to! Maybe plan a day or even an hour out of your busy schedule to do something you love. It can be as simple as planning a self-care day. Plan an online game night one day per week with friends (the author has done this with her friends every week since the pandemic began).
No matter how the remaining days of 2020 play out, try to stay positive by investing in yourself and making the best of the time you can spend with loved ones.
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