How To Recognize And Cope With Pandemic Fatigue
What Is Pandemic Fatigue?
Let’s face it, living in a pandemic is exhausting. It’s difficult to thrive when everything around you feels uncertain. Though COVID-19 is not the first pandemic in history, this one hit differently. We are living in a society where instant gratification has become commonplace. We make friends, plan dates, book plane tickets, and buy anything we need with the press of a button. Now, the world has come to a screeching halt and taking what seems like forever to start back up again. With that, it’s understandable if you find yourself wanting to throw the whole pandemic away.
“Pandemic fatigue” refers to the exhaustion brought on by following the rules and regulations of COVID-19. This persistent feeling of stress and overwhelm about the pandemic results in demotivation toward following guidelines. We all want the pandemic to be over for good, but experts warn that rushing COVID’s demise leads to greater risks.
How To Identify the Warning Signs of Pandemic Fatigue
Predictably, the foremost symptom of pandemic fatigue is fatigue itself. If you’re finding it difficult to get out of bed in the morning or struggle to make it through your daily tasks, pandemic fatigue could be to blame. This sort of exhaustion goes deeper than sleepiness. You may be feeling drained from attending Zoom meetings all day, or worn out from wearing a mask while trying to maintain distance between you and everyone else in public.
There are at least four major types of pandemic fatigue: mental fatigue, emotional fatigue, social fatigue, and Zoom fatigue. Each of these carries its own burdens and stress on the mind and body. If sleeping through the night is not an issue, but you still drag through the day, this is a warning sign.
Doomscrolling refers to the impulsive and excessive time spent scrolling on our phones in search of bad news. We’re more likely to doomscroll to validate our feelings when we’re feeling down. Seeing all the negative events happening in the world, gives good reason to feel so miserable. Yet, this cherry-picking of information has shown to lead to higher levels of acute stress.
Bad news makes headlines. When you’re scrolling through your phone for news and updates, it’s easy to be fooled into believing good things are no longer happening. If you find yourself glued to your phone or laptop while growing more anxious or upset, this is the ultimate fuel for pandemic fatigue.
Pandemic fatigue is characterized by a lack of motivation to follow health guidelines and protocols. It is paired with general feelings of alienation and hopelessness about the pandemic. As millennial women of color, we are social beings who treasure our freedom more than anything. Being restricted or confined for long periods wreaks havoc on mental health.Increased levels of stress introduced by the pandemic can “trigger symptoms of anxiety and depression in people who have never experienced them before and can worsen symptoms in people who were already struggling”.
How To Cope With COVID Fatigue
- Speak With A Mental Health Professional
Feeling a bit down about how the pandemic is affecting your daily life is normal. But, if you find your mental state worsening or affecting your daily life, it’s time to talk to a professional. Thankfully, culturally sensitive mental health resources, such as The Black Girl Doctor, WOC Therapy, and Inclusive Therapists are on the rise. As the stigma around discussing mental health and therapy begins to disappear, there’s never been a better time to reach out for professional support.
- Set Social Media/Internet Boundaries
These days, there are countless social media traps for young women to fall into. Aside from our own doomscrolling, we’re inundated with images of people who still appear to be living their best lives despite the pandemic. Seeing these sorts of images play into our yearning for things to return to normal. This leaves us with a serious feeling of FOMO and “influences” us to act more recklessly. Set screen-time restrictions on your phone. Or download a program that limits your internet access. Leaving your devices in another room for a set period of time can also help. Scrolling your feed is not worth compromising your mental health.
- Stay Active and Create a Schedule
The lack of a strict schedule has been negatively impacting many of us. Those of us who are accustomed to going to work or school during the day and having nightlife on the weekends were hit especially hard by the new “stay at home” regulations. Regular exercise has proven to improve levels of anxiety and depression in people of all ages, but staying active doesn’t only refer to exercise. Creating a daily schedule for yourself including waking up at a set time, implementing a morning beauty routine, and putting on a nice outfit and fragrance (even if you never leave the house) will immediately lift your spirits.
- Continue to Follow COVID Regulations
It feels like a double-edged sword, but the only way we will see an end to COVID-19 is to continue to follow regulations to the best of our abilities. According to the American Medical Association, there is still a 5% chance of contracting COVID after vaccination. Though this is a small number, it’s important to acknowledge that the risk of infection still exists. The more we continue to wear our face masks, social distance, and act responsibly, the sooner life will be able to reconvene.
- Believe It Will Get Better
To call pandemic fatigue exhausting would be an understatement. No one can blame anyone for feeling like they want to get on with their lives. The most important thing to keep in mind is that things will get better. Much like depression, pandemic fatigue is taxing and leads the mind to believe it will go on forever. Spoiler alert: it won’t. Life may never be the same as we once knew it. But just as there has been an end to every pandemic before COVID-19, we will see the end of this one too.
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