Pandemic Fatigue is one thing that we all share, and it’s perfectly normal to experience it in these unprecedented times!
Each one of us has been affected in some way by loss during the Covid-19 pandemic—loss of a family member or friend, loss of a friendship or relationship because of differing beliefs and opinions, loss of income, and, most significantly, loss of life the way we knew it. Day in and day out we are bombarded by pandemic statistics about sickness and death, and reminders that life may never be the same again.
Acknowledgment is the first step to feeling better
Life as we know it has been altered dramatically by the pandemic, leaving many of us with confusion and sadness. This is the reality of our lives and we have to adapt and grow to move forward. There is a saying that acknowledgement is 90% of healing, without knowing there is a problem, there is no way to fix it.
The first thing to do is acknowledge our current situation and know that looking back to the ‘pre-pandemic normal’ is not going to bring it back.
By processing our emotions and practicing self-care and keeping grounded in our awareness of the times we collectively find ourselves in, we will start to build our resilience against the negative impacts.
Steps to process your grief
While some of us are actively grieving the loss of loved ones, others may not recognize they are grieving the loss of the life they once knew.
Grief is a personal experience and everyone goes through it in their own way, but experts suggest some ways to help cope with loss
- Acknowledge your pain, understand that your grieving process will be unique to you.
- Accept that grief can trigger different and unexpected emotions.
- Seek out face-to-face support from people who care about you.
- Support yourself emotionally by taking care of yourself physically.
By acknowledging and labeling negative emotions about the pandemic you will find it easier to process the trauma and start the journey of healing. Through this process, you can take control of your life.
In addition there are other things you can do that will help you continue to process and heal.
Check-in with yourself right now:
- Are you drinking enough water? Drinking water can prevent dehydration which can cause unclear thinking and result in mood change and general lethargy.
- Drinking a sufficient amount of water has also been shown to have a natural calming effect, making it an important step in managing anxiety and stress.
- Are you following a healthy diet? Improving your diet will give you increased energy, a stronger immune system, and a general feeling of wellbeing.
- Reducing your sugar intake can improve your mood—swings in blood sugar add to mood instability.
- Are you exercising? Daily exercise is another essential tool to keep in your pandemic fatigue toolbox. Exercise can combat depression, anxiety, psychosocial stress, and general malaise – it also helps you sleep better!
- Make sure to get some exercise every day.
- Are you taking time off to relax and de-stress? You can only control the controllables. You can’t control the pandemic, but you can control your response to it.
- Remember that what you focus on becomes your reality. Carve out time in your schedule for activities that are important to you.
Try these things to avoid pandemic fatigue
- Be aware. Start a diary and categorize your thoughts. Don’t ignore, but don’t indulge or dwell on negative thoughts.
- Instead, set aside time every day to worry. While it may sound strange, it’s a great way to start to exert control over your thoughts. At the scheduled time, briefly write down your worries. If you can think of a solution, take action to address that worry, otherwise, accept it and move on with your day.
- Try the 3-3-3 rule to bring you back to the present. During the pandemic, it’s easy to contemplate ‘what-if’ scenarios with an array of negative outcomes.
- When you’re feeling overwhelmed by worry, look around and name three things you see. Next, name three sounds you hear. Finally, move three parts of your body—your ankle, arm, and fingers. When your brain starts to race, this trick can help bring you back to the present moment.
- Reduce time spent listening to ‘news’ broadcasts and social media to avoid being bombarded by negative pandemic statistics and scare-mongering.
- Hang out with positive friends who don’t drag every conversation into negative territory.
- Read books that inspire you and fuel your mind.
- Play! Board games like scrabble or chess foster higher-level strategic thinking and problem-solving. Ones that make you laugh are also extremely beneficial to your state of mind.
- Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga are wonderful stress relievers.
- Limit alcoholic drinks. If you enjoy an alcoholic beverage and become aware that you are using it more than usual, acknowledge that and either limit or consider avoiding it.
- Get enough sleep. Set regular bedtimes and try to avoid food or alcohol for at least two hours before bedtime to encourage good quality sleep.
- Sun/Nature therapy. Daily exposure to fresh air and sunlight not only uplifts the mood but is also a potent immune booster. Sit in direct sunlight for at least 15 minutes a day if you are feeling unwell. Sunlight has been proven to kill viruses, bacteria, and fungi and also produces serotonin, a key hormone that stabilizes mood, feelings of well-being, and happiness.
Trust and gratitude are cornerstones of inner peace and happiness. Don’t forget the enormous benefits of these gifts which play a powerful role in bringing you to a feeling of calm.
For example, each time you’re eating a meal imagine the beautiful fields and the farmers that helped to produce your nutritious food. There is no need to be religious to take up the practice of gratitude—realizing how lucky you are can make you feel so much better.
Remind yourself and those around you that pandemic fatigue is not an illness but it is real. It is a natural response to a very unnatural situation, and your body’s way of recognizing that something is wrong.
Understanding what pandemic fatigue is, knowing that you are not alone in experiencing it, and by following the advice above you will gain the strength you need to both survive and thrive through these uncertain times.