Managing COVID-19 Fatigue

Successfully facing COVID fatigue is important for our overall well-being, and health experts have identified a number of coping strategies that can help.

Self-CareAs the COVID-19 pandemic continues, we are all living in a state of uncertainty about the future. We have spent the past several months collectively wearing masks, social distancing, and maintaining vigilance when it comes to where go to and what we do. In addition, many of us are dealing with remote schooling for our children while trying to work from home. We are also facing significant economic challenges with millions of Americans experiencing furloughs or unemployment.

It's no surprise that COVID fatigue is setting in for many of us. COVID fatigue refers to the sense of exhaustion people feel based on the many challenges we are facing due to the pandemic. It is a mental and emotional state that is different from the actual fatigue that can be a symptom of the virus. COVID fatigue can drain us of our motivation and cause us to become less strict about following hygiene guidelines and social distancing, health experts say.

However, successfully facing COVID fatigue is important for our overall well-being, according to health experts and others. In late October, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director of the World Health Organization, warned COVID covid fatigue at a meeting of world leaders convened to deal with this issue. "We understand the pandemic fatigue that people are feeling,” Tedros said at a virtual press conference. "It takes a mental and physical toll on everyone. But we cannot give up. We must not give up. We all have to play our part."

Health experts have identified a number of coping strategies we can use to help fight covid fatigue.

Focus on good heath: eat well, exercise, and get enough sleep.
When your body is healthy, you are better able to handle the added mental and emotional stress of dealing with the pandemic. Eat healthy and nutritious foods that are good for your body, such as lean meats and fresh fruits and vegetables. Establish and maintain a regular sleep schedule so that you can get the amount of sleep your body needs. Limit alcohol use. It's also very important to stay physically active. "Any exercise—even a simple walkhelps," according to Kaye Hermanson, a psychologist at University of California Davis. "It releases endorphins, gets some of the adrenaline out when the frustration builds up. Just getting out and moving can be really helpful for people."

Talk about your feelings and emotions.
Ignoring your feelings or emotions does not make them go away. It is important to communicate how you are feeling by talking to friends, family, or a professional about your emotions, according to experts. It's also helpful to know that you are not alone in this journey; everyone has reasons to worry about themselves and their loved ones at this time. You can also keep a journal to help you express yourself and your emotions.

Engage in constructive thinking and mindfulness.
Be kind to yourself right now and don't look too far down the road, experts say. It's important to realize that you will have some good days and some bad days. These are unprecedented times, and everyone is experiencing at least some level of changes in their lives. "We may think it is the situation that causes our feelings, but actually, our feelings come from our thoughts about the situation," psychologist Kaye Hermanson wrote in a recent online post. "We can't change the situation, but we can adjust our thinking. Be compassionate with yourself and others. Remind yourself, 'I'm doing the best I can.'"

Stay flexible as recommendations change.
Scientists are continually to learn more about the virus, causing experts to change recommendations. And while this can cause some confusion, it's important to stay flexible and keep up with new information, according to Carisa Parish, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at John Hopkins Medicine. Sticking with reliable, trustworthy information is essential. New facts are emerging as we learn more about this virus.

Take breaks from the news.
We are all inundated with information right now. Experts say we all need to take breaks from social media and also make sure we are following credible sources of information. When it comes to medical news, it's best to follow two or three medical professional who you trust, according to Dr. Jacqueline Gollan, a psychologist at Northwestern Medicine. Also, if the news is triggering you and causing you to feel fearful or angry, turn it off.  

Help others who may be in a worse situation.
There are almost certainly people out there who have been hit harder than you by this crisis. Think about what you can do to help others. Reach out to people you know who may benefit from a friendly text or phone call. Run errands for elderly people or those who unable to get out right now. There are also many virtual volunteer opportunities you can look into if you aren't able to assist in person. Go to to find out more about how you can help others online.

Find joy wherever you can.
Try and take pleasure in small moments, whether it's enjoying hot tea, reading a good book, or taking a walk with your child. Finding ways to experience positive emotions can counter negative feelings, according to researchers at the Center for Healthy Minds at the University of Madison (WI).

The most important thing right now as we all deal with the stress and uncertainty is to not give up, especially when it comes to health and safety issues, experts say. According to Dr. Gollan, "It's vital that we continue to follow masking, physical distancing and personal hygiene protocols to prevent us from losing the progress we made to so far."

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