Resiliency During a Pandemic
Over the last year & a half we have all experienced rapid & tremendous change. And it’s no secret… WE. ARE. TIRED! We’re tired of being cooped up. Tired of being extra careful all of the time. Tired of being scared & constantly worried. Tired of wearing a mask. Tired of social distancing & missing family/friends. Tired of the uncertainty. We are so tired with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic & the various challenges we have had to face & overcome that a new term was developed to help explain how we all feel – “COVID Fatigue.”
COVID fatigue can manifest in a variety of mental, physical and/or emotional symptoms. Symptoms of COVID fatigue may include:
- Physical and/or mental exhaustion
- Feeling overwhelmed or helpless
- Increased irritability & impatience
- Decreased motivation & productivity
- Loss of satisfaction or enjoyment in activities that once brought joy
- Negative attitude
- Decreased adherence to current public health recommendations
If you are finding it hard to keep up with the rapidly changing pandemic precautions & public health recommendations, you may be experiencing COVID fatigue & you most certainly are not alone. For most of us, COVID fatigue is a reflection of how challenging long-term behaviour change really is – in the beginning, you’re motivated to make changes, but over the long term… that momentum begins to wane. And the more behaviours you try to change all at once, the harder it can be.
Most of us are feeling COVID fatigue in some way or other. We are feeling all the feels… sadness, worry, guilt, anger, etc. Sometimes we’re feeling multiple different things all at once. And it’s exhausting. But unfortunately, despite everyone being tired, the COVID-19 pandemic is not going away anytime soon. Therefore, it remains critical that we all continue to follow all public health guidelines (e.g. wearing a mask, social distancing, etc.) for managing COVID-19 & this is especially important for individuals living with diabetes or other chronic health conditions. And to remain diligent in our fight against this pandemic, we require resiliency.
Resiliency is defined as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties” or the “process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy or significant sources of stress.” Learning to become more resilient not only helps you get through tough times, but it can also empower you to grow & improve. Increasing our resilience takes time. To help increase your capacity for resilience during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may find it helpful to try some of the following strategies:
- Stay flexible & seek out information that is reliable + trustworthy. The guidelines & recommendations are constantly changing as we learn more about COVID-19 so it’s important to stay up to date & work to adjust your habits to keep yourself safe. However, not all information is accurate, evidence-based or reliable so practice caution when seeking out information.
- Repeat, repeat, repeat. Practice following the precautions until they become second nature without you even thinking about it.
- Try mindfulness or meditation. Mindfulness is the practice of purposefully bringing one’s attention to the present moment without judgement & without worrying about the “what ifs” that are yet to come. Mindfulness or meditation can be done anytime, anywhere & can be done for as long or as short as you wish. And with a little practice, the easier it becomes! There are plenty of free mindfulness apps & programs available to help you get started such as Headspace® or Calm®.
- Try to maintain a regular routine around exercise, sleep & personal interests/hobbies. Try to maintain your healthy habits – choose nutritious foods more often, try to stay active, aim to get plenty of sleep each night & remember to spend time doing some of the activities that relax you & bring you joy (i.e. gardening, a relaxing bubble bath, reading a book, etc.).
- Spend time with people close to you. Though during a pandemic this certainly looks different, don’t forget to stay connected with friends & family. Stay connected via telephone, video chat (e.g. Skype, Zoom, etc.), email, drive-by visits/celebrations, etc. Staying connected with our closest supports can help nurture our wellbeing.
- Acknowledge your feelings. Many people are struggling right now with feelings of loss or grief. Whether you are struggling with the loss of pre-COVID times (e.g. breaking important family traditions/being away from loved ones or family conflict resulting from differences in risk comfort level, etc.) or if you lost someone close to you, know that you are not alone & that it’s normal to feel sadness, grief or even anger or frustration. Take a moment to sit with your feelings & acknowledge them without judgement.
- Be kind to your wallet. If your finances are a source of stress for you it is okay to decline gift exchanges in favor of low-cost activities that you can share with loved ones. It’s also not unreasonable to set spending limits or make homemade gifts if you can’t avoid a gift exchange. Drop-off or physically distanced doorstop meal/gift exchanges are also an option!
- Take some time away from social media or the news. Limit how much time you spend scouring the internet, watching news related to the pandemic or reading the paper. Acknowledge that people will have different opinions & avoid arguing with those who think differently than you.
- Know when to end unwanted conversations. Everyone is going to have a different opinion. And that is okay. There is no shame in removing yourself from a situation or conversation that is causing you stress – leave the room for a breather or step outside for a moment. It is okay to set boundaries when discussing certain topics, especially with family & friends.
- Create a new tradition. Shake up at-home daily routines by supporting a different local restaurant every Friday or exploring a new walking trail in your area. You may even find it peaceful to wake up a bit earlier to enjoy your coffee & favourite book as the sun rises as you start your weekend!
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Parrish, C. (2020, August 11). How to Deal with Coronavirus Burnout and Pandemic Fatigue. Johns Hopkins Medicine. https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/conditions-and-diseases/coronavirus/how-to-deal-with-coronavirus-burnout-and-pandemic-fatigue.
Koplon, S. (2020, November 6). How to overcome COVID-19 fatigue – News. UAB – The University of Alabama at Birmingham – News. https://www.uab.edu/news/youcanuse/item/11677-how-to-overcome-covid-19-fatigue.
Yarmolkevich, N. (2020, March 3). ‘COVID Fatigue’ and How to Fight It: AMITA Health Blog. AMITA Health. https://www.amitahealth.org/blog-articles/behavioral-health/covid-fatigue-and-how-to-fight-it.
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