by Tauri Kerr
Recently we celebrated our one year ‘Corona-nniversary’ and it is safe to say that many people are fairly over the pandemic safety measures. When this COVID-19 journey began, we prepared ourselves to get through a lockdown for a few weeks (a few months, at most). The fact that the strict rules and isolation have been extended indefinitely makes it hard for people to maintain a positive attitude towards it all.
It is normal to feel a decline in your mental health – it is called Pandemic Fatigue. The common symptoms are feeling restless, irritable, lacking motivation, and having difficulty concentrating on tasks.
Being mentally and physically exhausted tends to lower resilience and boost feelings of dread and helplessness. Being fatigued, in this way, can reduce your ability to cope and so you feel less motivated to do anything about those negative feelings. This causes you to feel more on edge and anxious about the inner turmoil that you are facing. This decline in your mental health is a well-known consequence of chronic stress.
Upon further research, I have found a few tips for anyone who feels that they may be struggling with Pandemic Fatigue.
Find ways to have a community. For example, playing online games with your friends or maintaining a regular ‘check-in’ with your close social circle is vital to ensuring that you are still socialising as much as you can.
Maintaining hope seems to be something that is mentioned often when talking about ways to deal with the pandemic. Reminding oneself that there will be an end to all of this – there is a vaccine coming and life will not be like this forever.
Creating a schedule was also a common piece of advice. By losing routine, you lose a lot of momentum. Human beings like to have something to move or work towards but in this case, we don’t really know what the end point is. Encouraging yourself to change out of your pyjamas or move from your bedroom to the lounge is vital to ensuring that you are not stuck in a rut. Staying in your room and having no routine could contribute towards the development of a poor headspace.
Focus on what you can control. It feels like our world has been turned upside down but there are certain things that you can control. Exercising (in whichever form) for a certain amount of time each day is a great idea. It means that regardless of how your schedule looks for that day, you have control over that half an hour, for instance.
Practice positive affirmation. We tend to focus on all the negative things going on in our lives, but it is important to give ourselves some credit for what we are doing right. It is important to remember that even though we are fatigued, there are things to be grateful for. A suggestion is to have a gratitude jar where you write one thing that you are grateful for every day and keep it in the jar – when you are feeling down, you can look back on all the great things that you have going on in your life.
Another interesting piece of advice is to be wary of the amount of time that you spend on social media. It is easy to fall down a rabbit hole of bad news or to get caught up envying someone who seems to be coping with the pandemic. It is important to remain grounded and to not allow yourself to be deterred too much by what you see on social media.
Pandemic fatigue certainly explains a lot about most people’s headspaces recently. We are constantly trying to be overly productive in order to prevent ourselves from feeling guilty about that fact that we are stuck inside. We don’t need to be constantly reminded that Shakespeare wrote King Lear whilst in quarantine during a lockdown (such an overachiever).
If getting out of bed and moving from your bedroom to the lounge is all you can manage then that is okay. Let's not be so hard on ourselves.