What is pandemic fatigue and what can I do about it?

Infection and Spread Mental Health

A: Pandemic fatigue can be defined as being in a fight or flight state for an extended period of time.

This can cause a stress like reaction, which eventually leads to behavioral fatigue. In other words, initially many of us were fearful of the new virus and abided by restrictions such as limiting gatherings, avoiding going out, and wearing masks. Over time we have grown accustomed to the restrictions in place, so the virus appears to be less of a threat (our body reinterprets the threat), even in the face of evidence to the contrary. We have also become weary of missing out on our pre-pandemic lives, which included family and friends and normal activities without restrictions. Abiding by COVID-19 prevention strategies has become more and more difficult.

And yet we know that cases of COVID-19 are rising across the United States and globally. At the same time, pandemic fatigue makes it harder for us to follow current restrictions. And so many of us are experiencing this feeling.

The good news? There are several steps we can take to combat it.

1. Remember that this will not last forever. The pandemic might not be on our timeline, but it is important to focus on the next day or even week to make changes.

2. Focus on the things that you can change (your diet, exercise, sleep, routines).

3. Create connections with others (distanced). But, avoid small social gatherings!

4. Amplify the positive: focus on gratitude, savoring, and future planning. Here are some simple strategies for doing this.

5. Mark the days with new routines (cooking night, craft night, or movie nights), for example.

6. Limit your news intake (seems contradictory) but try to limit to an hour a day for updates.

7. Use your crisis fatigue strategies: pick your battles, seek joy, and pull in your people.

And we must add, please continue to physically distance, wear a mask, ensure good ventilation or meet outside, limit the number of people you come into contact with at any gathering (including small), and limit the amount of time you spend with people (our SMART guidelines). And of course, wash your hands.

Stay safe. Stay sane.

Don’t give up…and fight that pandemic fatigue!

With love,
Those Nerdy Girls

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