COVID-19 Is Wearing Us Out. Try These Tips to Recharge and Recommit to Safe Activity
Published: May 18, 2020
As the COVID-19 pandemic has unfolded, most people have done their best to follow recommendations to stay home, wear face masks and practice social distancing.
But in recent weeks, experts have noticed a disturbing regression dubbed "quarantine fatigue," in which people, regardless of what their local governments say, have been slipping back into pre-pandemic social habits.
Battling the emotional exhaustion of COVID-19
Quarantine fatigue stems from the emotional exhaustion the pandemic has placed on our lives. We’re exhausted by new rules and restrictions. We feel closed in. We're bored. We're broke. This pandemic has elevated the notion of powerlessness and uncertainty to a level most have never experienced.
With so many aspects of our lives being transformed in a short time, quarantine fatigue is a completely reasonable response. We need to acknowledge it as normal and forgive ourselves and each other for having these feelings and slipping up.
But how can we continue to cope when it starts feeling harder and harder to stay home? How can we recommit to doing what’s best for the health and safety of ourselves and others? Here are some reminders and tips for dealing with COVID-19 fatigue:
Keep your distance. Practicing social distancing right now is the best thing to do for long-term public health. It feels natural to want to be around others, but remind yourself how important keeping your distance is.
Live one day at a time. By thinking of your time at home in terms of days rather than weeks, you can make it feel more manageable. Try to set two goals that you want to accomplish each day, then tackle them.
Keep a journal. By writing down your thoughts every day, you’ll give yourself some structure and may be able to regain a sense of control.
Try to get some exercise. Exercise is a great way to relieve stress, in addition to supporting your immune system and your mental health.
Keep yourself mentally stimulated. Keeping your mind active can boost your mental health. Try watching movies, playing board games or learning a new language.
Keep using technology to your advantage. Technology can’t replace human contact, but it does offer great tools to help you stay connected, stay focused and overcome quarantine fatigue. There’s seemingly no end to the positive resources available – podcasts, articles, films, TV series, apps, social groups, games and more.
Seek to limit negativity. The steady drumbeat of seemingly negative COVID-19 news can be exhausting. Take control by limiting how, where and when you consume news. Commit to seeking updates only once or twice a day, and don’t be afraid to mute or unfollow accounts that feed your fatigue. If you find yourself mindlessly scrolling through posts, redirect yourself by putting down your phone, getting up from your computer or switching gears to more positive content.
Develop relationships. Just because you’re practicing social distancing doesn’t mean you can’t invest in and develop relationships with your friends and loved ones – or even make new friends. You might just have to rely more on technology or creativity to communicate.
Think about your life plan. There’s no better time to re-evaluate your life goals. Pick a goal in each area: personal and professional. Think about things you weren't happy with pre-pandemic, then plot a new course.
Focus on surviving, not thriving right now. If you’re emotionally exhausted from physical distancing, then relax expectations for yourself in other areas, such as diet and exercise habits, work productivity or parenting choices. We're all human, and we're all doing the best we can.
Need more help?
You don’t have to do this alone. Remember that it’s OK to reach out if you need help managing stress, anxiety or other emotions. Your employer may be connected with an employee assistance program that can help. You can also call the Methodist Emotional Support Line to speak with a licensed professional counselor from the Methodist Hospital Community Counseling Program. The free, confidential service can be accessed by dialing (402) 815-8255 (TALK) and is available Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.