What is pandemic fatigue?
When people get tired of following the COVID-19 measures, they experience what is known as “pandemic fatigue”. It is a sense of burnout that makes people less likely to follow the pandemic rules put in place by the government. Dr. Itai Danovitch, chair of the department of psychiatry and behavioral neurosciences at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, spoke to CNN and explained that pandemic fatigue occurs when people are asked to make behavioral changes over a long period of time. “We get tired and we resort to our usual behaviors, and when the requirements are coming from sources outside themselves, it adds a whole other layer of complexity,” Dr. Danovitch revealed.
The pandemic has caused extreme levels of stress and anxiety.
It has been almost a year since we were first told to stay at home. While we were afraid, we were hopeful. We believed that following the rules would ensure that in just a few months, life would return back to normal. However, as time went on and nothing changed, our hopes vanished. Now, we all find ourselves in a place that is hard to escape. We feel exhausted, mentally drained, hopeless, and stressed. Speaking to Huffpost, Jessica Gold said, “People are afraid of getting their hopes up in some capacity because there are so many ways to be let down, and overall, it’s been disappointing in a lot of ways.”
How can we cope with these feelings?
First and foremost, you must have self-compassion. Gold explains that you must not belittle your feelings and she guarantees that “at a certain point, we’ll all get through it”. Do not beat yourself up about the way you feel and the thoughts you have been having. It is a difficult time and you are not going through it alone. Nevertheless, you must make sure that you find the motivation to continue following the rules and regulations. Although it may undoubtedly be difficult right now, remind yourself why you must wear a mask and keep your distance. Understand that every interaction has a ripple effect to spread the virus; therefore, be cautious and remember that your actions impact many people — not just you.
Above all, be kind to yourself.
If you are finding it extremely difficult to cope, consider seeking the help of a therapist who can introduce you to new ways of coping with the pandemic. Commenting on seeking help, Dr. Carl Lambert and Dr. Anna Yap said:
Mental health has been suffering and it’s partly that loss of social connection, but it also stinks to be inside all the time, and it makes sense that COVID fatigue is hitting. This is a completely normal thing to experience, so if you need to seek mental health care resources, do that too.
Dr. Anna Yap
I don’t want patients to feel silly—it’s a very common phenomenon. We just have to figure out how you navigate this in a way that you stay strong and resilient and that you don’t do anything that’s reckless for yourself or the people around you.
Dr. Carl Lambert