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    Do You Have ‘Pandemic Fatigue’?

    by Ngozi Osuagwu, MD | August 9th, 2020

    Do You Have ‘Pandemic Fatigue’?

    My daughter has been working from my home since April. She was supposed to work in New Jersey but due to the pandemic, that was placed on hold. She usually travels for the summer, but that has also been placed on hold. She told me that she needed a change of scenery. She was getting tired of staying home 24 hours, 7 days a week. She was going to take a road trip with a friend to visit another friend. I told her if she traveled, she would have to quarantine for 14 days before coming back to the house. She promised me that she would be safe and that I was being over dramatic. She told me when she returned, she would quarantine in the house. She would stay in one location. I told her that she would need to find a hotel before she came home and it would be for 14 days. She could not understand why I would not let her quarantine in the house. I could tell that she was frustrated. I could tell that she was suffering from “pandemic fatigue”. I told her that we cannot let up. We have to be diligent. The reason why we are having an increase in COVID 19 is that some people have stopped following the rules. They are tired. She ended up not traveling and I am thankful that she was willing to listen.

    ‘Pandemic fatigue’ is real and affects people differently. People are tired of being cooped up. People are tired of being careful. People are tired of being scared. People just want COVID 19 to end but it will not end until everyone follows the rules – face masks, social distancing, avoiding large crowds, going out when it is essential and washing hands.

    What can be done to help with ‘pandemic fatigue’?  The Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) provided a public service announcement titled Be Kind to Your Mind – Tips to cope with stress during COVID-19.

    • PAUSE. Breathe. Notice how you feel.
    • TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 content.
    • MAKE TIME to sleep and exercise.
    • REACH OUT and stay connected.
    • SEEK HELP if overwhelmed.

    Here are my thoughts:

     PAUSE. Breathe. Notice how you feel. – We should not feel guilty or ashamed of being tired of COVID-19. It is okay to be upset that it has messed up our plans for the summer and probably for the rest of the year. No one predicted COVID-19. No one knows when it will end.  This is our reality. After we acknowledge our feelings, take time to pause and breathe. Breathing is a powerful medicine. By breathing, we are forced to slow down. This is where meditation is useful.

    TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 content – We are all suffering from information overload. Put the smart devices away even for 10 minutes.  Let go of FOMO (fear of missing out). You can skip the news for a day. It will be okay. Get away from social media.

    MAKE TIME to sleep and exercise – Exercise produces the happy hormones in our bodies. It can be simple as walking or dancing to a favorite music. Sleep is important for good health and to maintain your weight. Spend time being mindful of the food that you eat. Use this as an opportunity to cook at home. Get the family involved. Establish a routine.

    REACH OUT and stay connected – Remember social distancing does not mean social isolation. Go through your contact list and start to reconnect. Hearing the voice of a loved one is much better than reading the updates on social media. Connect with devices that allow you to see an individual.  

    SEEK HELP if overwhelmed – Even with the above, it can be hard. You are not alone. PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE seek help. Below are the resources.

    National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

     Mental Health America

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