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Combating COVID Fatigue

Sad man lying down covering his face

You may have heard of something called “COVID Fatigue”, “Coronavirus Burnout”, or “Pandemic Fatigue”, or even felt the effects of it yourself. COVID fatigue is real and it’s causing some people to be less careful. It’s caused by living in a state of prolonged stress: we’re tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, tired of being scared.

After working so hard to keep our numbers low, it’s important to continue our success and sustain our physical and mental health. We must remain vigilant, but not fearful. As Dr Alex Nataros of Comox, British Columbia puts it: “We need to learn to be crocodiles: Relaxed, aware, but not expending excess energy.”

COVID Fatigue is completely normal and is actually to be expected. In the event of a disaster, communities goes through stages of what is known as Disaster Stress. The fatigue is part of Stage 5: Disillusionment.

During the disillusionment phase, communities and individuals realize the limits of how quickly life can return to normal. As optimism turns to discouragement and stress continues to take a toll, negative reactions, such as physical exhaustion or substance use, may begin to surface. What’s important at this time is to recognize your own mental health needs and seek help when needed.

Phases of Disaster Stress:

Graph showing the stages of Disaster Stress

What Can We Do?

  • Keep up with the basics: a balanced diet, exercise, and safe social interactions,
  • Practice Self-Care in ways that work for you,
  • Talk to loved ones,
  • Ask for help when you need it,
  • Be compassionate towards others and towards yourself,
  • Continue to adapt to public health recommendations and requirements,
  • Try to accept the new reality.

And although we are tired, it is still imperative to continue to employ spread-limiting techniques such as wearing masks, proper hygiene, and social (physical) distancing.

Some Ideas

Get Creative with Your Mask

Get or make a mask in a pattern you really like!
Easy Sew / No Sew Mask Tutorials Fitted Mask Tutorial Pleated Mask Tutorial

Embrace Outdoor Activities

As the weather cools down, our instinct is to stay indoors but it is important to stay social and active.

  • Go for walks and watch the fall leaves change,
  • Go for bike rides,
  • Do yard work,
  • Go apple picking,
  • Visit a pumpkin patch and pick pumpkins,
  • Have people in your social bubble over for a bonfire and hot drinks.

Celebrate Holidays Safely

Keep your holiday traditions, but rethink them to keep everyone safe.

  • Decorate for the Holidays as you would normally, even if you can’t celebrate normally,
  • Zoom or skype Thanksgiving supper with your grandparents,
  • Send a Thanksgiving “What I’m Thankful For” email to loved ones to update them on what’s going on in your life,
  • Netflix party a scary Halloween movie with friends,
  • Carve pumpkins with people in your bubble,
  • Show off your Halloween Costume on Instagram,
  • Put together candy goody-bags for children in your social bubble.

Published: September 25, 2020

Tomiyoshi, Tricia. “’COVID fatigue’ is hitting hard. Fighting it is hard, too, says UC Davis Health psychologist”, UC Davis Health, 7 July 2020, health.ucdavis.edu/health-news/newsroom/covid-fatigue-is-hitting-hard-fighting-it-is-hard-too-says-uc-davis-health-psychologist/2020/07

Parrish, Carisa. “How to Deal with Coronavirus Burnout and Pandemic Fatigue”, Johns Hopkins Medicine, 11 August 2020, www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/how-to-deal-with-coronavirus-burnout-and-pandemic-fatigue

“Phases of Disaster”, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, 17 June 2020, www.samhsa.gov/dtac/recovering-disasters/phases-disaster

Nataros, Alex. “Letter to the editor: Time to adapt and embrace to the new normal”, Comox Valley Record, 12 September 2020, www.comoxvalleyrecord.com/letters/letter-time-to-adapt-and-embrace-to-the-new-normal/?fbclid=IwAR1UQ_sheHrRgKziU-zAW8H1xySUg_qgktjp7fY7s3XgQeXN42F_D35Qqm0