Coronavirus has been part of daily lives for most of 2020, the effects of which are still being resonated in 2021. If you’re feeling fatigued about coping with the many challenges and mandates the pandemic has produced – it’s safe to say you’re not alone.
Following the coronavirus guidelines can feel like more of a challenge as time goes on. And simple measures such as social distancing, wearing a mask, and handwashing may start to seem burdensome.
Many individuals have lost loved ones or job roles. Some have missed important events such as weddings, funerals, and graduations. And in some cases people are simply just starting to feel extremely isolated, missing their usual routines, and no longer know what to do to make good use of their time during the pandemic.
Moreover, the WHO has coined the term pandemic fatigue as “feeling demotivated about following recommended behaviors to protect ourselves and others from the virus.”
The feeling of demotivation mentioned by the World Health Organization as the focal point behind pandemic fatigue stems from mental exhaustion. This can lower an individual’s capacity to cope with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic.
These feelings tend to create a sense of hopelessness, frustration, and dread. This would explain why many individuals might be starting to feel apathetic towards the ensuing safety protocols.
Nevertheless, if pandemic fatigue is something that you’re currently experiencing these tips might be just what you need.
1. Setting Boundaries To Help Foster Connections
Sheltering under the same roof can be extremely stressful, but it can also help strengthen your relationships. Setting boundaries with family members, friends, or roommates can help self-isolation become more manageable.
It might even be literal, such as rearranging a common area so everyone has a separate space they can use for “alone time”. Appreciate your loved ones and treat them with kindness and respect.
Try these techniques:
Communication is key
Some of the most satisfying conversations you’ll have with your loved ones or housemates happen naturally when you’re actively doing things together. These joint experiences can be used as a vehicle to set boundaries, while at the same time building honest and open relationships.
Chores allow everyone in the living space to contribute as a team. Creating a list of weekly shared chores can help to avoid feelings of resentment, frustration, and anger within a household.
You’re bound to disagree with family and friends at times. But the trick is to address conflicts as soon as they arise, and move on.
Quarantines and isolation won’t last forever, and before you know it, busy schedules will resume. Therefore, it’s important to try to find gratitude and enjoy each other’s company. Spend time making memories, playing games, doing crafts, or even find a hobby you can work on together.
2. Switch Up Your Lifestyle
Funnily enough, some news sources say that people worldwide are exercising less and gaining weight, while others say healthy habits are on the rise. Regardless of what your current routine may look like, the important part of any lifestyle change is finding a balance that works for you. For instance, if you’re constantly going on hikes, but aren’t taking time to rest and recharge, then you might not notice much of a mindset change.
Prioritizing healthy self-care behaviors such as eating more nutrient-dense foods, exercising, staying connected with loved ones, avoiding excessive social media scrolling, are some examples of positive changes that can go a long way toward helping you feel more grounded.
3. Finding Your Purpose
If back in 2020, you started quarantine with huge expectations of all the things you could accomplish in your free time – such as learning that new language, writing a novel, or becoming TIK TOK famous – but you’re yet to achieve them, don’t be afraid to remove them from your “to-do” list.
Setting yourself unrealistic goals and expectations can become a significant source of internal conflict if you’re not meeting them. And a better strategy would be to allow yourself to explore new hobbies, activities, and avenues as and when you feel drawn to do so.
By being more mindful, and removing the added pressure of expectations, activities that had once lost their charm due to seeming like a chore, can become fun and exciting again. Thus leading to a feeling of heightened motivation.
4. Don’t Be Afraid To Get Help
Social distancing efforts have increased feelings of isolation and loneliness for many people, but especially among the elderly and individuals who live alone.
Humans are naturally social animals, which is why isolation can feel particularly hard at times. A 2011 study showed that extended periods of isolation can lead to a multitude of poor health outcomes including increased blood pressure and lack of sleep.
The trick is to find a balance between social distancing and connectedness:
One idea would be to try scheduling a couple of 5-minute “check-in” sessions per day with your friends, loved ones, or support group.
Try to limit social media
If you’re intentionally watching shows that are raising your stress levels, or spending hours doom scrolling through social media reminiscing and making yourself sad, then maybe it’s time to switch off.
Read a book, go for a walk, listen to music, or watch movies and shows that transport you to happier times. Disney classics anyone?
Moreover, if you feel overwhelmed with pandemic fatigue, you might benefit from seeking out professional help. And, what’s great, is that most therapists are doing telehealth zoom-based appointments at the moment, which is super convenient as you won’t even have to leave the house.
Sometimes, talking to an external party can help individuals regain a fresh perspective on the things that are troubling them. Plus, the best part is, that you might not need that many sessions to walk away feeling like you’re getting a reset.
The most important takeaway from this article is not to give up. The pandemic, unfortunately, isn’t going away soon implying that preventive measures and guidelines are needed until the vaccine rollout is complete.
We all know that being on high alert for extended periods is draining, making pandemic fatigue all that more real. But hopefully, understanding and acknowledging the feelings behind “pandemic fatigue” can help people take actionable steps to shift their mindset, and regain a newfound sense of joy.