We have all been asked to remain vigilant to prevent the spread of COVID for a full calendar year. Even with the rollout of vaccination campaigns, people may be experiencing fatigue related to safety measures, travel restrictions, and limited social interaction. That’s normal – you are not alone. However, now more than ever it’s important to stay committed to a layered COVID defense approach. Read on for more about “pandemic fatigue” and how to cope with it.
Pandemic Fatigue: What Is It?
Pandemic fatigue: occurs when people grow weary of safety measures and become less likely to follow public health practices. Burnout can happen after following these measures for a prolonged period of time. Pandemic fatigue can present as restlessness, irritability, exhaustion, feeling “on edge”, lack of motivation, and difficulty concentrating on tasks. One may withdraw from socializing, or may notice physical symptoms such as changes in eating and sleep habits.
Why Has It Emerged?
Early in the COVID pandemic, many people went into short-term “survival mode” to cope with the stressful situation, often directing energy to help others. The body can only sustain a heightened level of anxiety for a certain period of time, and over time fatigue and de-motivation can set in.
With fatigue, people may begin to rationalize the pandemic as “not so bad”; they may even become angry and resentful that safety measures and restrictions are still in place. This can have a dangerous result: individuals may stop listening to health experts, and begin to believe that the benefits of freedom outweigh the risks of contracting the virus. It is crucial that each person continue to practice stringent safety behaviours in order to complete the vaccine rollout.
How To Cope?
Stay motivated to protect yourself and others by practicing the following coping skills:
*Exercise: Exercise increases endorphins (the “feel good” neurotransmitter).
*Talking: “If you can name it, you can manage it.”
*Constructive thinking: Always look at the silver lining, stay positive!
*Be kind to yourself: Be compassionate with yourself and others.
*Feeling a sense of community: Offer to help a vulnerable person near where you live by delivering meals or running errands for them.
*Mindfulness and gratitude: For now, try to take life day by day.
WHO/Europe | Behavioural and cultural insights for health - How to counter pandemic fatigue and refresh public commitment to COVID-19 prevention measures
"COVID fatigue" is hitting hard. Fighting it is hard, too, says UC Davis Health psychologist
Winter is coming: COVID fatigue is merging with winter blues and SAD (ucdavis.edu)
Coronavirus: Europe experiencing 'pandemic fatigue' - BBC News