Dealing With Covid-19 Fatigue
For more than a year now, COVID-19 has been negatively affecting us. Phrases such as “stay at home,” “flatten the curve” and “social distancing” became part of our daily vernacular in the United States, but the majority of those phrases now cause negative emotional responses. This type of response is what experts call COVID-19 fatigue. In fact, the new clinical guidelines for psychologists and therapists for COVID-19 include: a person expressing that he/she has reached his or her capacity to cope and is experiencing various mental, emotional and physical symptoms as a result of the constant exposure to pandemic stressors, including social distancing, isolation from family/friends, fears of contracting COVID-19, numerous virtual meetings, grief, financial stress, and more.
“By this point, we know people are tired — tired of missing family and friends, tired of not having a routine, of not going into the office,” said Jeanne Marrazzo, M.D., director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Division of Infectious Diseases. “Whatever disruptions to a person’s normal life have occurred, there is no denying the mental, physical and emotional toll people are experiencing. What we’ve learned — and what we keep learning — is how to combat burnout in safe ways that minimize the spread of the virus and enable us to feel some sense of normalcy.”
In Michigan, we are facing new highs in Covid-19 numbers, both in hospitalizations and in positive tests. This, in spite of the fact that testing has actually been on the decline in Michigan over the last three months.
If you are experiencing the symptoms of COVID-19 fatigue, here are some helpful ways to cope:
When you are aware that you are struggling, the best thing you can do is some self-assessment and self-care. Throughout the pandemic, people have been sharing ideas of self-care. Some advise taking a moment to assess your mental well-being. How are you feeling? How is your sleep? How is your diet? Are you getting enough of the right nutrients? Research and try out new recipes this season. Access resources to virtual counseling, if needed. Shift your focus from what you don’t have right now to what you are grateful for by journaling what you appreciate each day.
Listen to music and playlists geared to improve your mood. Catch up on your reading and consider starting a virtual book club with friends. If you like listening to podcasts, explore some new podcasts on topics that may pique your interest. Schedule meaningful catch-up sessions with friends and family through whatever medium is best and safest. If you have your vaccines, start connecting in safe ways again in person.
The old saying, “Garbage-In, Garbage out.” If you notice that you are feeling negative or anxious, pay attention to what you are feeding your brain. Limit social media activity and news consumption. For many, working and schooling from home are still the reality for many. Experts suggest setting specific and separate spaces for where you work and live; try not to overlap, if possible. Set time limits for how long you work in a specific place in the house or on a certain task. When you get a break, enjoy the Spring by taking quick walks outside during the day. Or try eating lunch outdoors in a park or trail near your home. If that is not possible, try waking up earlier to take advantage of sunlight and enjoy your coffee outside, take a walk before the day begins, or set your daily intentions and to-do lists. When work or school is done, make a shift to personal or family time and do something fun.
Finally, take time to connect with God. Maybe this should be the first thing. Take up meditation/quiet time before your day begins or maybe during a break in your day. Read your Bible or read a devotion. Pull out your prayer book. If you pick up the prayer sheet at worship, pray for the individuals listed on it. Remembering that you are not alone, but part of something bigger than this pandemic as part of God’s family can be a very helpful reminder. It can help you put your present troubles in perspective of God’s eternal plan for you.
Always remember, and take time to remind yourself: God loves you! Even if you were the only person on the planet, Jesus would have come down to redeem you. He loves you that much. He died and rose again so that death (and the fear of dying) would no longer have power over you. Christ is risen and all His promises are true!
See you next time, here at the corner of faith and mental health.
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor Chad Wright