A lot of us are struggling with issues like stress, anxiety, burnout, and depression in the pandemic. In fact, there’s a new health problem we are facing as a result: pandemic fatigue. As the term implies, it is mental and physical exhaustion due to the Coronavirus and all that it entails. Among other reasons, fatigue is causing people to flout safety guidelines and has increased in COVID cases, so it is crucial to deal with it immediately.
As someone with years of depression, fatigue has long been a part of my life. COVID-19 made it a lot worse, but I’ve figured out how to handle it reasonably well. Without further ado, here are 5 self-care tips for you to cope with pandemic fatigue.
1. Be mindful of the media you consume
It’s more important now than ever to make good choices when it comes to media consumption. First, wean yourself off the 24×7 news cycle because most news today highlights negative events for the sake of views. With the massive overwhelm we are all feeling right now, we have to limit this kind of toxicity as much as possible.
Also, overexposure to anything causes desensitization, which is probably why even people who took precautions when the pandemic hit are no longer doing so. So whether you get your news from TV channels or social media, make sure you do it in small doses. For that matter, choosing reputable sources is key to avoid misinformation and fear-mongering.
Second, stop following anyone whose content rubs you the wrong way. Be it a privileged influencer or an annoyingly perky friend, do not think twice and hit ‘Unfollow’ if their posts make you unhappy.
2. Work less so you can focus on what matters
For the love of whatever you believe in, stop pushing yourself to overwork. Burnout is an insidious problem of our times – and work from home has made it even more so. If you’re out of work, go easy on yourself as you look for employment opportunities. Protect yourself from job search depression; I’ve been there and it’s rough.
Work and money are important, but your physical and mental well-being should be your primary priority this year. So put work on the backburner and focus on yourself first. Use your vacation days and take a staycation. Get some exercise and vitamin D. If you get creative, you can de-stress and relax from the comfort of your home. If you must, schedule downtime in your planner to do things that make you feel happy and alive.
Of course, it’s not just all about you. Spend time helping others because according to research, it will make you feel good about yourself.
3. Realign your goals and your perspective
You cannot and should not expect yourself to follow your pre-pandemic routines. Coronavirus has changed life as we know it forever and we have to make changes accordingly. For example, if you find yourself sleeping more than usual, accept your increased need for sleep instead of beating yourself up about it. Your body and mind could use some extra rest in these difficult times.
Also, practice a therapy technique called cognitive restructuring to adopt a positive point of view in general. The technique is simple: all you have to do is focus on facts and on what you can control. For example, if you are feeling frustrated about being stuck in a pandemic, make a list of the things you can do that you never had time for before. Trying to find gratitude for the littlest things and chanting a meaningful mantra can help too. Basically, you have to change your perspective to adapt to the new normal.
4. Stay connected with people who matter to you
Counterintuitive as it may sound, keeping to yourself is not the answer to your mental and physical fatigue. The reason? Well, to some extent, all of us need human company to feel a sense of belonging. Being connected with your tribe is crucial to prevent loneliness and social isolation. Your social network is not just people you hang out with, it’s the people who have your back and make you feel less alone.
If you don’t have a good social network in place, you are missing out on much-needed social support. Even if you are a bit of a loner like me, ensure you are connected to at least one friend/family member or mental health professional. In times of distress, they will help you see the light at the end of the tunnel – and vice versa.
Being vulnerable isn’t easy, but it will make your life a lot easier. In my opinion, a good therapist is the person you most need when it seems like your life is falling apart. If you have money problems, you can always turn to free mental health resources.
5. Distract yourself
Sometimes, the best way to cope with fatigue is to not do anything. I’m talking about distraction, a break we all need when everything seems overwhelming. Thanks to the Internet, we have a never-ending stream of distractions just a click or two away. Music, games, movies, TV shows, virtual window shopping, role-play, it’s a long list. The best of us do it, so go ahead and ignore your problems for the moment. Explore to find what works for you and keep at it.
While healthy distractions are the best, it’s okay to veer from the path at times. Of course, you have to exercise common sense. While eating junk food at times is fine, trying out heroin is never a good idea. Escape reality from time to time so that when you get back to the real world, you are ready to deal with current hardships and uncertainty.