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Pandemic fatigue

Onsite Mental Health Therapist for Bupa Clinics
22 February 2021

Many of us are experiencing 'pandemic fatigue' and it’s having a major impact on our mood and behaviour. Pandemic fatigue can lead to both mental and physical symptoms. It’s the feeling of exhaustion that comes from living with the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and its impact on our lives. Here are some helpful tips to help you get through lockdown and look forward with some hope to spring.

Why am I experiencing pandemic fatigue?

Lots of things might contribute to pandemic fatigue, including spending so much time at home, worrying about becoming unwell, and a sense of loss. It’s no wonder lots of us are feeling burned out right now. And, while the vaccine programme gets started, we are being asked to keep going for a while longer. In the cold, dark winter months this might feel like a challenge.

1. Normalise, don’t minimise your feelings

Over the past year you might have experienced a range of emotions, and it’s worth remembering that there are no right or wrong feelings to have. We are going through a continued state of uncertainty. You might find you need more energy to process the situation, as well as to get used to new ways of living. As well as this, the extra things we have to do each day to stay safe, such as washing our hands, socially distancing and remembering our masks, might also be adding to the feeling of exhaustion.

Keep in mind that it’s ok to have good days and bad days. You’re doing your best to get through uniquely difficult times.

2. Know that you are not on your own – reach out to others

It’s not often that we can all say that we’re all going through the same thing. But, while our experiences and challenges may differ, we’re all trying to navigate a global pandemic as best we can. Being or feeling alone or isolated can be hard, and it can also make reaching out to others difficult. But, we know social contact is important for our wellbeing, and it’s likely that you’re not the only one feeling the way you do. In fact, a recent survey from the Mental Health Foundation found that almost half the adult population were feeling anxious or worried. It also found that nearly a quarter were experiencing loneliness during the coronavirus pandemic.

Know that you are not alone. Reach out to others for connection where you can, it can make a real difference to how you feel both in the moment, and over the long term.

3. Take care of your body

Focusing on ‘just getting through the day’ can make it hard to take care of ourselves, and many of us are juggling so many demands. Following a routine which includes a healthy, balanced diet, good sleep, and exercise could be just what you need to help make pandemic fatigue more manageable.

4. Positive reframing

During the pandemic there might have been times when it was hard to see the positives. Seeing upsetting news headlines and hearing the numbers of cases and deaths can all lead to negative thoughts. Cognitive behavioural therapy highlights how our thoughts affect how we feel, but also how we react to those feelings. So, if you notice that your thoughts are impacting the way you feel, try to think about the positives.

  • The acts of kindness and charity we have seen in response to the pandemic.
  • How adaptable people have been by learning to work remotely.
  • The commitment we’re all showing to doing our best, even with the added stress and pressure.
  • Appreciate the extra time we have at home and spending more time with those in our household or social bubble.
  • Celebrate science and the speed the vaccines have been created and rolled out.

It’s also important to remember that feeling the way you do is normal. Acknowledge it, normalise it, but try acting on the things that are in your control to help yourself to feel better.

Carly Francis
Onsite Mental Health Therapist for Bupa Clinics

    • Pandemic fatigue – reinvigorating the public to prevent COVID-19. WHO Regional Office for Europe www.who.int, accessed 16 February 2021
    • Difficult feelings about the coronavirus pandemic. Mind. www.mind.org, published 2 December 2020
    • Coronavirus and your wellbeing. Mind. www.mind.org, published 5 January 2020
    • Loneliness during coronavirus. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk, updated 6 January 2021
    • Coronavirus and mental health tips. Mental Health Foundation. www.mentalhealth.org.uk, updated 12 January 2021
    • Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Mind. www.mind.org, published October 2017

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