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I Am So Tired! Coping with Pandemic Fatigue
For more than a year, people across the globe have been dealing with rapid, unexpected changes that have resulted in many losses. Besides the devastating loss of millions of lives due to COVID-19, other losses include:
- Important events, such as weddings, family holidays and funerals.
- Access to coping mechanisms, including gyms and social centers.
- Connections to family and friends, especially physical touch.
- A sense of community.
- Travel, opportunities, finances, career moves, and more.
These losses can drive a sense of depression. Uncertainty, loss of control, threats to our values, all contribute to anxiety and depression. This is pandemic fatigue, and it is real.
Recent surveys support the reality of pandemic fatigue. The National Health Interview Survey of Americans ages 18 and older reported that from January to June 2019, 8.2% expressed having symptoms of anxiety disorder. At the end of January 2021, a similar survey by the National Center for Health Statistics saw that number more than quadruple, with 36% reporting symptoms of anxiety disorder.
An antidote to climbing out of pandemic fatigue is building and maintaining relationships. But how do we do that when it would seem restrictions are keeping us apart? After more than a year of this we know that we can find ways to be together, but perhaps the more important connection is for individuals to reconnect with themselves.
Here are some ways to achieve that:
- Adjust your expectations of what you were going to do with all that “extra” time at home. Don’t “should” on yourself.
- Do things that nourish your spirit and lift your mood.
- Set boundaries with your family in your home. Make space, both in time and place, for each person to have some alone time.
- Control the unexpected by adding some structure (not too much) to your day: Set morning and evening routine, schedule exercise, family games, date nights, etc.
- Prioritize self-care: Eat well. Sleep regularly. Exercise. Get up from your workspace hourly to just move around. Connect with others but avoid “doom scrolling” on social media.
- Practice gratitude, savoring the good and minimizing the negative.
Most importantly: Get help if you need it. If you or someone you know is thinking about suicide contact the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. In Maryland, call 211 or text your ZIP Code to 898-211 to be connected to crisis help resources.
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