covid-19 fatigue

Covid-19 fatigue: 10 useful ways to beat pandemic exhaustion

Published by Andile Sicetsha

The disturbing picture of how Covid-19 has taken over our lives is inherent in the data.

The world is experiencing a Covid-19 info overload

In the United States, search volume of the words “covid vaccine and pregnancy” grew by a staggering 1 450% in January 2021. We are constantly barraged by breaking news of the worst kind.

If it isn’t someone we know who succumbed to the respiratory virus, then it’s the uncertainty of a vaccine that’s shrouded with wild and — outlandish, to be honest — conspiracies.

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We are constantly in a state of worry. Murmurs of the Nipah virus being the cause of the next pandemic, for instance, are driving a search frenzy that, according to Google Trends data, speaks volumes about the state of our mental health.

Fat chances are you have Covid-19 fatigue

This constant threat of the unknown can cause what’s known as Covid-19 fatigue, Abdurahman Kenny from Pharma Dynamics says.

“Similar to physiological threats, when faced with psychological stressors, it takes up a lot of energy. Anxiety, depression and stress are exhausting by nature and have a huge impact on our mood, ability to concentrate and our energy levels. Add ten months of living through a pandemic to the mix and it takes matters to an entirely different level. We’ve been in constant fight or flight mode and many have reached a mental health breaking point,” Pharma Dynamics’ Portfolio Manager said.

In many ways, Covid-19 fatigue is a serious threat to stopping the spread of the virus. Our attitude towards wearing a face mask at all times and sanitising our hands can be altered by pandemic exhaustion.

The consequence of this neglect is clearly depicted in the rising death toll, with more than a million casualties reported worldwide.

“In some cases, pandemic fatigue could induce reckless behaviour, such as ignoring or abandoning precautionary health measures altogether. This type of conduct can put you, your loved ones and society at risk. No matter how intense your fatigue around the crisis, you should continue to exercise caution for as long as COVID-19 remains a threat,” Kenny added.

10 useful ways to beat Covid-19 fatigue

Fortunately, there are practical measures you can take to deal with Covid-19 fatigue. These 10 useful tips from Kenny are a few ways you can take action against pandemic exhaustion.

  1. Recognise and deal with signs of COVID-19 fatigue as soon as they arise instead of repressing them. Re-evaluate your situation and behaviour(s) by putting things in perspective. Write down your thoughts or discuss it with someone close to you.
  2. Don’t be a martyr by continuing to self-isolate if you’re not sick. Practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you need to isolate yourself completely from others. Humans have an innate need for social connection. Make time to see close friends and family (in person) at least weekly.
  3. Create a healthy routine that will make you and your family thrive in the new normal, such as eating right, drinking enough water, going to bed early, exercising, limiting caffeine or alcohol intake, enjoying meals together etc.
  4. Practice self-care. While it may be difficult with competing work and family demands, it’s important to create time for yourself and to not feel guilty about it. Whether it’s exercise, meditation, reading or getting creative – find something that invigorates your body and mind.
  5. Limit media consumption by following one or two reliable sources of information, which can help you sift through information without feeling overwhelmed. 
  6. Plan fun outings and things to look forward to without putting you or loves ones at risk.
  7. Give yourself a pep talk every morning to stay positive.
  8. Be kind to yourself. If you’re not as productive or motivated as you used to be, it’s okay, we’re all living through a time of heightened anxiety and uncertainty.
  9. Get some sunshine by working in the garden or going for a walk. Sunlight has a direct impact on our mood and general well-being.
  10. If your symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks, it may be more than just pandemic burnout and could have progressed into a mental condition such as depression, a mood or anxiety disorder. If this is the case, you need to seek professional help. Don’t be embarrassed about it. We all need a little help from time to time and we’re living in extraordinarily challenging times.