By Ashley Halsey
February 3, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- COVID-19 has spread across the world in the last year, forcing many people into a lifestyle to which they are unaccustomed. With most people confined to their homes indefinitely due to public health restrictions, the effects of the pandemic are potent and lasting, causing formerly productive, active individuals to succumb to burnout--a quarantine phenomenon known as “pandemic fatigue."
What is Pandemic Fatigue?
When lockdowns were first instituted across the world, most of us had a sense of patriotic pride in staying home and saving lives. We meticulously washed our hands, sanitized every surface in and outside of our homes and kept trips into the outside world restricted to necessities. It was a time to come together in fortitude against a threat few actively understood. Back then, we were ready, but almost a year later, the urgency has worn off and the stress of isolation is taking its toll.
“As a population, we’ve suffered,” comments Julia Lancet, a health blogger at Draftbeyond and Researchpapersuk. “Confined inside with our routines interrupted, children staying home from school, jobs lost and a seemingly endless expanse of dread before us, we’ve lost the hope of returning to life before the Coronavirus. That is Pandemic Fatigue.”
- Energy Changes: Fluctuations in energy levels or productivity, general fatigue
- Mood changes: Irritability, anxiety and decreased motivation
- Self-image changes: Lowered self-esteem, negative thinking, depression
- Memory changes: Forgetfulness, trouble focusing or easily distracted
- Physical changes: Fluctuating weight loss/gain, appetite changes
How To Manage Pandemic Fatigue
Vaccines are rolling out, bringing hope for an end to the pandemic in the future. The challenge is how to manage the stress of isolation until it’s safe to resume normal activities. Despite how tired we are of the restrictions, it’s imperative that we adhere to the guidelines set into place for as long as they exist, to resist the urge to have gatherings with friends or visit relatives, in order to protect and conserve the lives of those not as fit as us. With our aspirations indefinitely on hold and an unsatisfactory life experience, it can be difficult to stay home, but below are some methods of overcoming “pandemic fatigue” and burnout during the COVID-19 pandemic that may help:
#1 - Stay In Touch
Perhaps the hardest part of quarantine for most of us is the sudden severance of socialization. Weekly shopping trips, coffee shop stops with friends and even meeting other parents at the school gates have stopped, leaving a cavernous hole where human interaction used to be. In particular, those of us who live alone are vulnerable to depression, anxiety and lowered self-esteem in response to a loss of social situations.
To combat this, make sure you stay in touch with friends and loved ones; call your parents, video chat with friends in a group call and touch base through text with the parents of your kids’ classmates. Sending or receiving a picture can make you both smile and renew those bonds. If local guidelines allow it, meet in person while adhering to social distancing rules and make an event of it; take a walk in the park, bring drinks and sandwiches for a socially distanced lunch.
#2 - Maintain a Healthy Work-Life Balance
This may seem counterintuitive when you’ve all the time in the world to work, but making time for self-care, for family and general house maintenance is important. Failing to separate work and relaxation can cause difficulty sleeping, anxiety and a sense of never switching off, which is a definite fast-track to Pandemic Fatigue and the associated burnout symptoms.
“Have distinct working hours like office hours, set aside time for lunch and “clock out” when the work day comes to an end. Then, treat yourself for a hard day’s work. It can be taking time to prepare a special dinner or just a favorite television show. As long as it is for you, it’s perfect,” says Leo Nash, a wellness blogger at Writinity and Last Minute Writing.
#3 - Be Kind to Yourself
Wellness and gratitude have never been more important. Focus on the good that’s come from your circumstances. Have you had more time to focus on hobbies, or spend with the children? Is your home still Covid-free? Has your kitchen never been cleaner since moving in? It’s not about huge changes but being thankful and aware of what you do have.
Remember, everyone is struggling in their own ways right now; some are grasping tightly to phones as they make calls while others combat their fear of an invisible enemy. So be kind to yourself and others, help others overcome their anxieties and if you’re getting too swamped to cope, reach out for help from family, friends or a healthcare professional.
Your health is important. Take time to care for yourself during these troubled times.
Ashley Halsey has been involved in many projects throughout the country and enjoys travel, reading and attending business training courses. A mother of two, she’s also a professional writer at Lucky Assignments Cardiff and Gumessays.com.