Coping with Pandemic Fatigue
January 7, 2021
Over these past months, you may have found yourself thinking or saying, “I am so over this pandemic.” If you have, your feelings, thoughts, and stretched-to-the-limit tolerance level are understandably normal.
Understanding COVID Fatigue
Although COVID or pandemic fatigue is not a clinical diagnosis, the reality of the relational, workplace, physical, emotional and spiritual overload arising from this protracted period of hypervigilance and necessarily limited social interactions is weighing heavily on us all.
Just going through a mental checklist every day is wearing thin: “Do I have my mask, do I have my hand sanitizer, do I have my get-into-and-out-of-the-store-as-quickly-as-possible exit strategy in place”?
How to Remain Hopeful and Healthy
So what can we do to remain hopeful, healthy and heart-filled as we wage this get-through-this-pandemic campaign together? Here are a few ideas you might want to consider as you continue to practice good self-care behaviors.
- Keep a routine, including a consistent mealtime, exercise time, bedtime and wake-up time as much as possible. With so many things outside your control, keeping a simple routine will add some degree of predictability and security to your live.
- Find “the good” in every day. As a journal therapist, I find list-making very helpful, especially when I am feeling overwhelmed. Creating a list of the bright and reassuring moments of every day or keeping a daily gratitude journal are wonderful ways to find meaning and hope in the present (I have been watching the flowers on an orchid plant gradually appear; I am grateful for not driving as much and not polluting the atmosphere; I have enjoyed making more time for cooking healthy meals and writing some poetry). For what are you grateful?
- Take time to rediscover who and what are the most important to you and make time to be available, responsive and engaged with those in your circle of care and love.
- Remember that this situation is temporary.
- Attend an online support group or 12-step program. Call a new-found friend or a sponsor.
- Limit your media consumption by phone, TV, computer or any other electronic device (Maybe 10 minutes three times a day!)
- Spend more time in nature.
- Use mindful breathing exercises to center yourself.
- Make time for silence, space and reflection.
- Surround yourself with positive and hopeful people, music, literature and family recipes.
- Immerse yourself in the study of a different culture or a new language.
- Reach out for counseling support if needed.
- Reach out to your primary care provider. Pandemic fatigue and stress can exacerbate prior mental health conditions like anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.
Where two or three people are gathered, someone is bound to spill the milk, make a mess and get a little fussy. Practice forgiveness and patience with yourself and others on a daily basis. After all, most of us have never before suffered the stresses and strains of pandemic fatigue.
Michael Carr, LPC
Michael Carr, LPC, is a licensed professional counselor providing behavioral health services at LG Health Physicians Behavioral Health. Michael is a graduate of Millersville University, United Theological Seminary, and the University of Scranton.