Recognizing and Coping with ‘Pandemic Fatigue’
What is ‘Pandemic Fatigue’
‘Pandemic fatigue’ refers to feelings of emotional and mental fatigue, and overwhelm as a result of having to abide by strict rules for extended periods of time. This can result in burnout and a decreased ability or desire to follow the rules and/or even a tendency to ignore or ‘tune-out’ the messages.
There can be a wide array of symptoms that can develop as a result of pandemic fatigue including anxiety, increased irritability, decreased or increased sleep, lack of concentration, exhaustion, lowered motivation, increased consumption of food, alcohol, marijuana or other drugs, and a sense of hopelessness.
How it develops
‘Pandemic fatigue’ comes as a result of a multitude of factors including decreased social interactions, loss of employment, multi-tasking, being bombarded with conflicting information on the news and social media, not being able to plan vacations or other activities like we usually do, not having as much personal space from our partner and children, and dealing with constant uncertainty.
How to cope
- Awareness that you are struggling is the first step. This includes noticing physical and/or psychological symptoms that seem to be different from before the pandemic. You may notice this in yourself, or friends, family or co-workers may notice that something is different about you. This is when you can consider the possibility that you might have ‘pandemic fatigue’.
- Mindfulness activities including breathing exercises, yoga, progressive muscle relaxation or meditation can help to calm the anxious thoughts that may be playing in our minds throughout the day.
- Limiting social media usage, especially ‘doomscrolling’ which is our tendency to focus on negative news stories and posts. Placing boundaries around this may help us to have a more balanced perspective on what is going on in the world which will ultimately lead to a calmer mind and happier mood.
- Regular exercise including running, walking, dancing, biking etc. will also help to control the overactive mind and positively increase our mood.
- It is important to connect with people even for a short period of time online or over the phone even if you don’t feel like being social. This can temporarily distract you from your anxious or negative thoughts by possibly hearing another perspective or maybe even adding some humor to your day which may lift your spirits.
- Scheduling self-care into your week can be helpful so that we don’t forget to think about our own needs. This could include a chat with friends, massage, exercise, bath, reading, drawing, painting, etc. Self-care is more important than ever right now so don’t be afraid to schedule more of it!
- Talk to a mental health professional if needed to help you talk through some of your fears, stress, anxiety, depression, relationship concerns, or parenting issues that may have come up as a result of the pandemic. Don’t hesitate to call the Distress Centre at 403-266 -HELP (4357) if you are having any thoughts of suicide. They are available 24 hours per day to help you with your concerns.
Using some or all of these coping strategies may decrease the symptoms of pandemic fatigue and renew your motivation to follow guidelines and help you manage your fear and anxiety so that you can make it through this difficult time. Paying more attention to these coping tools may help you manage stress and anxiety better in general even after the pandemic.
Heather Nolin, MC specializes in the areas of personal growth and life transitions, as well as many others. For more information on Heather and her work, click here to link to her full bio page.