Is “Pandemic Fatigue” just a buzzword?
We are nearing the one-year mark from the start of the Coronavirus Pandemic. Maybe this year feels like it has flown by, or maybe it feels like it would never end. How would you sum up the past year?
This list could probably go on forever. Each person has experienced this pandemic differently. Some may have lost family members, friends, jobs, money, or housing. Some may have been crippled with the fear of getting sick or having a loved one get sick. Some may have been frustrated as their work continued on as “normal” but they felt anything but normal at work.
It is important to reflect on all these things and the ways life has been drastically impacted by COVID-19. It has changed our “life as we know it” and created new ways of doing things.
I wish I could tell you that COVID-19 is in the past and that we can finally look back on that time and be thankful that it is over. But unfortunately, that is not the case. It seems that it will be here for a little while longer.
Are you just tired of it? Are you experiencing what some are calling Pandemic Fatigue?
You’ve been homeschooling your kids for far longer than you thought, the winter months are dragging on and bringing worse weather with them, and you’re still having to be a productive employee, parent, or significant other. Being tired and frustrated are completely valid feelings.
Your sympathetic nervous system, better known as the fight or flight response, has been in overdrive throughout the duration of this pandemic. You’re essentially burning the candle at both ends, and now your candle is completely gone.
Adrenaline is a good thing for a short period of time. It causes your heart to beat faster, increases blood flow to the brain, and stimulates your body to make sugar for fuel. The combination of all these things can get you out of a sticky situation quickly! This fight or flight reaction keeps us alive.
Usually, this response would stop after the stimulus is removed. For example, if you saw a snake while out for a walk in the woods you would see the snake, experience a rush of adrenaline, and quickly jump and run far away from that snake. When you finally reach a safe distance from the snake, your heart would stop racing and you would begin to catch your breath.
While this is the normal response, it has likely not been your experience during the pandemic. There have been so many stressful events occurring one after another that your body has not had the time to take a break. Factor in the political climate, the daily news, the winter months, and you might discover that you have not had a chance to even catch your breath. Not to mention, your body has been running off adrenaline for far too long.
I am here to tell you, that feeling you’re feeling is Pandemic Fatigue and it’s 100% real.
Okay, now that you understand Pandemic Fatigue, what the heck do you do about it.? The following are three simple steps to help you begin to address it.
Be gentle with yourself.
The first thing might not sound like a lot, but it is one of the most important. Give yourself some SLACK. Know that you are doing the best with what you have been given and show yourself some compassion. Maybe you need to put less things on your to-do list and be okay if the dishes don’t get washed tonight.
Secondly, write down positive affirmations.
Create a few statements that resonate the most with you and tape them on your mirror or write them in a journal. Affirming yourself daily is important and is a great habit to form.
Validate your emotions.
Finally, validate your emotions. Emotions are automatic, physiological responses to something around you. You can acknowledge what your body is telling you by validating these emotions as they come up throughout the day. This might look like telling yourself:
“I am tired, and that’s okay.”
“I feel lonely right now because……”
“I am overwhelmed by…”
“I’m so excited for….”
This might seem silly at first, but keep doing it and you’ll find that it actually helps!
There doesn’t seem to be an “end date” to this pandemic, but there are a few things you can do to help relieve the stress of living through it. Continue to remind yourself that these are indeed unprecedented time; you’re allowed to learn as you go! Don’t be afraid to reach out to a professional if you feel you need additional support, we’re here for you.