If you find yourself feeling overwhelmed or unmotivated to deal with COVID-19 anymore, pandemic fatigue might be the cause. Pandemic fatigue refers to the exhaustion (both mental and physical) you feel after months of learning about, taking precautions against and staying up on the changing guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.
The World Health Organization (WHO) defines pandemic fatigue as when we feel demotivated to continue behaviors designed to protect ourselves and others from the virus. If this is how you feel, you’re not alone. Here are some tips to help you cope with pandemic fatigue.
Dealing with information overload and constant change
It’s understandable if you’re struggling to keep up with the constant news updates. As we learn more through scientific research, the guidelines about COVID-19 change. It’s easy to share information quickly online but keeping up with all the news can be harder.
Our behaviors have also changed rapidly — thinking of quarantines, wearing masks, missed travel plans and events, changing work environments, remote learning, and returning to school. When you tally it up, it feels like mental whiplash.
Your brain is amazing. It can take in new information and quickly adapt behaviors. But it also deserves to rest. Try taking deliberate breaks from the news. Make a point to check in only on certain days or times instead of being plugged in all the time. Go to credible, science-based sources of information, such as the CDC or WHO.
When you’re tired of taking precautions
You may be tired of practicing safety precautions, such as masking, distancing and handwashing. But as the U.S. is still facing COVID-19 surges from the Delta variant, don’t give up just yet.
While we have highly effective COVID-19 vaccines, only about 61% of Americans are fully vaccinated as of December 2021. So other precautions still play a role in keeping people safe.
Instead of thinking of precautions as limitations, try thinking of them as useful skills you’ve mastered. You’ve been practicing these skills for over a year now, and even as the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, you can use them when needed. For example, are you indoors and it’s a bit crowded? Mask up. Is an aisle at the store full of people? Wait a minute or two so you can peruse in peace.
You can help manage your stress by taking care of yourself. Simple ways to practice self-care include:
- Get enough sleep: Our sleep affects our mood and physical health. So, focus on getting enough, good-quality sleep.
- Build community and connection: Your social health matters. Continue to build a sense of community and connect with friends and loved ones in ways that are safe but still fun and fulfilling.
- Eat healthily: Enjoy whole foods like fruits, veggies, protein sources and grains that are less processed to improve your overall health.
- Move: Get moving every day in a way you enjoy. That could mean going for a walk or to the gym or getting outside to enjoy the fresh air.
- Make time for yourself: It doesn’t have to be long but carve out some time to do what you want, such as a hobby, reading or simply relaxing.
Seek mental health care
Depression, anxiety and fatigue are just a few common reasons to seek mental health care. If you feel like you would benefit from talking to a therapist, don’t hesitate to reach out. Many offer telehealth appointments for your convenience.