PANDEMIC FATIGUE: WHAT IS IT AND HOW TO BEAT IT?
The first thing that happens is that I burst into scorching tears of anger. What prompts this awkward response? An email message from Instacart popping up in my inbox canceling the order I had spent over an hour placing just the day before.
I frantically search the site for a phone number so I can actually talk to a live person, to no avail. I then comb the Internet and am rewarded with a customer service phone line to Instacart. I place the call with the same intensity one dials 911 when the kitchen curtains are engulfed in flames.
I am told my order was cancelled due to many of the items on my list being out of stock. I scream louder and hotly demand the rest of the products that ARE in stock be delivered ASAP.
I hang up and burst into tears again.
“What in the hell was that all about?” my husband demands.
Here’s my answer:
I’ve got it and you may too.
First of all, who would have ever thought we’d be routinely wearing masks in public?
Okay, the mask does cover up errant chin hairs. And I am saving money on lipstick since I’m not wearing any. And I am saving time when applying my makeup because I’m only doing my eyes.
But, despite all these positives, the masks are hot, suffocating, annoying, and prevent others from seeing our facial expressions.
And that’s not all. I’m plagued with anxiety. Mired in depression. Chronically exhausted. Exhibiting heightened irritability and worsening brain fog and a lack of motivation for even the simplest of tasks.
Is it any wonder? The coronavirus outbreak shows no sign of abating in the near future. And a resurgence of cases is on a steep upward climb in too many states (and countries).
There is widespread hopelessness, economic uncertainty, food insecurity, job losses, lack of leisure pursuits, fear of contracting the virus and passing it on to our more vulnerable loved ones, social isolation, and uncertainty about schools re-opening in the fall.
When we exceed our coping resources, Pandemic Fatigue sets in. Duh.
How to Break Free?
But we can’t let ourselves drown in all of that or we won’t ever be free of depression. So, what can we do?
Adopting Self-Care Practices
Practicing self-care is recommended by most mental health professionals. A good self-care regimen makes us less vulnerable to negativity and worry. Satisfying our own needs and desires lifts our mood, heightens our energy level, and strengthens our body’s immune response.
Exercise, a healthy diet with adequate hydration, restful sleep, boundaries, work/leisure balance, and honesty about our own emotional needs will help prevent the grip of Pandemic Fatigue from rearing its mighty fist.
Keeping the Right Company
Finding someone we can relate to can take us from emotional drowning to calmness. This is a person who both understands us and listens to our thoughts and feelings and is available.
Acknowledging, accepting, and working through our feelings will ratchet down Pandemic Fatigue symptoms.
Implementing New Rituals and Routines
It’s a great idea to take part in a virtual cocktail hour with friends, a weekly zoom call with siblings or long-lost college buddies, a daily morning walk at a different local park in your city, a religious service online.
Engaging in Interesting Hobbies
Pursuing a new hobby can take our mind off of negative thoughts. It could be in the form of an online course or YouTube how-to videos.
Enjoying Favorite Activities
Let’s not forget our favorite activities! Many times, binge watching, reading, baking bread, yoga, gardening, and other favorites can calm the mind and re-energize us.
Limiting News Intake
Watching the news several times a day, switching channels for different perspectives, plunging in online publications… Just stop. No wonder we are feeling overwhelmed by it all. Let’s agree to limit our news intake to avoid information overload and lower our stress level.
Heightening Our Awareness to Trends
Here’s one particular trend that sent me into Happyland:
Family members – particularly baby boomer parents and their adult children – are re-thinking decisions of geography that have resulted in them living so far apart from each other. (Geez. Maybe there’s hope of finally closing the vast distance gap between me and my seven grandchildren.)
I’m closing with a line from a poem entitled “Dawn Revisited” by Rita Dove: “Imagine you wake up with a second chance.”
Take that chance. And keep preserving your bloom.
Have you fallen victim to pandemic fatigue? Is this the first time you hear of it? What are your symptoms? What are you doing to fight this emotional and psychological condition? Does it work? Let’s have a conversation and draw from each other’s experiences!