Eighteen months after phrases such as “stay at home”, “work from home”, “flatten the curve”, “regular handwashing” and “social distancing” became the new normal, people are experiencing a form of burnout experts call COVID-19 fatigue.
To put it simply, people are beyond tired of pandemic living and the many losses they have had to endure as a result of it.
They miss what life was like pre-COVID-19 and are desperate for a return to normality that doesn’t appear to be coming any time soon.
What is COVID-19 Fatigue?
According to Dr Tami Long, “COVID-19 fatigue and/or burnout implies a person has reached his or her capacity to cope and is experiencing various mental, emotional and physical symptoms as a result of the constant exposure to pandemic stressors.”
These stressors include social distancing, isolation from family and friends, fears of contracting COVID-19, numerous virtual meetings, grief and financial stress to name a few.
Symptoms of COVID-19 Fatigue
While COVID-19 fatigue may look different for each individual the most common symptoms often include:
- Physical and mental fatigue
- Lack of energy
- Feeling constantly overwhelmed, sad or helpless
- The inability to complete daily tasks
- Increased irritability’
- Reduced work performance
- Isolating from others
How to deal with COVID-19 Fatigue?
Though COVID-19 fatigue on a population-wide level may not be going anywhere any time soon, especially with new coronavirus containment measures constantly being introduced, dealing with COVID fatigue on a personal level isn’t impossible.
Like many things within one’s control how you cope with COVID-19 fatigue is completely up to you.
If you are in need of coping strategies to overcome your fatigue, here are a few strategies that are worth a try:
1. Focus on the things you can control – For many people COVID fatigue is brought on due to an extensive focus on things that are completely out of our control.
No, you may not be able to control whether you contract the virus, however, you can ensure that you take all the precautions not to catch it, including getting vaccinated to decrease the likelihood of severe outcomes if you do catch it.
2. Stay physically distant, not socially distant – You may not be able to meet up with your friends or gather in groups face to face but the magic of technology allows us to remain in touch regardless while keeping each other safe. Use it to your advantage.
3. Watch what information you are consuming – Yes, we’re in a pandemic and you want to be as informed as possible. However, inundating yourself with information can add to your COVID fatigue.
Consider limiting yourself to a few trustworthy news sources, as well as the amount of time you spend per day consuming the news. Be especially mindful of social media, which can easily spread disinformation and content specifically designed to upset you.
4. Take some time for yourself – You don’t need to be reminded 24/7 that we’re in a pandemic. Take a few hours each day to spend some time with yourself and do something you enjoy.
This could be reading a good book, listening to a podcast, binge-watching a series or even painting.
5. Prioritise rest – We’re human and rest is an important of refuelling and re-energising for the day ahead so don’t take it for granted. Know your limits and ensure you give yourself sufficient time to rest.