How to overcome pandemic fatigue

Pandemic fatigue is an all too real phenomenon occurring all around the world. People are getting tired of precautions and restrictions, of this ‘new normal’ we find ourselves stuck in with no end in sight. Though the promise of a vaccine had brought hope to our gloomy winter, its slow roll out across the country and the recent extension of the current lockdown seem to have diminished the light at the end of the tunnel.

People are feeling unmotivated and tired of following these strict guidelines where the cost of these restrictions on our personal lives has surpassed the benefits of following them. As of now, many people can’t see a positive outcome from staying socially distant from their friends and family for this long, all they feel is the negative ramifications of this behaviour – the loneliness, the depression, the anxiety.

But all is not lost. I think it’s important to remember that, though this is not an ideal way of living for most of us, this is still our reality for some time. And while there are a lot of modifications needed from the government, there are many things you can do at home to help you to fight this pandemic fatigue. Below, I’ve outlined some of the ways I have found helpful in keeping me motivated through these seemingly never-ending lockdowns.

Personally, I have found exercise to be my saving grace during these lockdowns. Ten minutes of yoga in the morning, a small walk in the evening, or following a home workout on YouTube have not only kept my mind and body active and healthy, but have given me something to look forward to throughout the day.

Stay Connected
Am I the only one who shudders at the thought of another Zoom quiz? No need to worry, though, there are a lot more ways to stay connected online than a test of your knowledge. I’ve found that calling up friends or family and having the video on in the background while I complete some of my daily chores has really helped me feel connected to those I can’t see as often as I’d wish. You don’t always have to be doing something productive to spend quality time with someone – just being there, virtually, sometimes is more than enough.

Normalise your feelings
I feel that this is very important and often neglected: accept that you are feeling unmotivated and exhausted from hearing about and living through this pandemic, know that it is normal to dread each announcement in fear of more bad news. Pretending that you are okay when you’re not will only lead to more negative feelings. Recognise and allow these negative feelings to exist, but remember not to dwell; let them pass and fall back into something you enjoy.

No more ‘Doomscrolling’
I think it’s safe to assume that at this point everyone knows about COVID. We know it’s consequences, we know we need to restrict our movements, so there’s no reason for us, at this point, to be constantly checking social media for Coronavirus news. Too much negative information can leave us feeling anxious and hopeless, so, personally, I limit my media interactions to just watching the news in the evening. I get all the necessary information, without too much doom and gloom.

Focus on what you can control
Your neighbour’s response to the restrictions is out of your control; sitting by annoyed that they’re meeting others while you’re trying your best to follow guidelines will only make you feel worse in an already dreary situation. Instead of worrying about what others are doing, focus on what you can do in these strange times. Remind yourself of how well you’ve been coping with this pandemic and continue to do your best to protect those around you.

Give yourself time to reset
Even though these lockdowns feel never-ending, I always give myself time to reset. I carve out time in my daily schedule to take a step back and reflect on what is going on, how I am feeling and incorporate activities that I genuinely enjoy into my life, such as reading or meditating, and not merely one’s that serve as distractions to the outside world (i.e., binge-watching Netflix).

Most importantly, remember that this is a very new, very real experience for you and those around you. Know that you are trying your best, no matter how tired you are waiting for it to end. Be kind to yourself and soon this will all be over.

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Written by Nicole Russell, a volunteer with the Limerick Mental Health Association and psychology graduate of the University of Limerick.