How to cope with COVID-19 pandemic fatigue

Many provinces and territories have reduced or removed many of the COVID-19 restrictions that were in place at the height of the pandemic in 2020-2021, thanks to the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine. For many people, this means life gets back to some sort of normal: masks are optional, visits with family and friends are more frequent, and more social outings are possible.

But this isn’t the case for everyone. COVID-19 is still here, and many individuals with health concerns are still doing everything they can to keep themselves and their loved ones safe. But with many people living their daily lives as usual, it can be incredibly frustrating and exhausting to feel like you’re on your own.

You’ve probably heard a lot of people say they’re ‘so done’ with COVID-19. You might have even had this thought yourself. You are not alone. The feeling of being exhausted by COVID-19 and ‘done’ with everything related to COVID-19 is called COVID-19 fatigue.

If you are experiencing pandemic fatigue, the following tips may be helpful

Build enjoyable routines

Routines can help reduce stress and guesswork. If you already know what you’re going to be doing in the morning and evening, you don’t have to worry about planning/decision-making as you go.

There’s also something comforting about having a routine that is predictable during uncertain times. There’s not a lot we can control right now. Control over our household routines provide us with some stability.

Embrace your feelings in a safe space

You may find it overwhelming and frustrating trying to express yourself, especially if you feel that friends or family don’t respect or understand why you are still following safety precautions that are no longer in place in your community. You may also choose to try and suppress your emotions because facing them feels so challenging.

Find a safe space in your home where you can express your emotions freely and safely. This may mean writing them down, listening to a certain type of music, or even talking to yourself out loud. Here are a few other ways you can safely express challenging emotions.

If you want to share what you’re feeling with someone else to help them understand why you have rules around COVID-19, make sure to speak respectfully and keep your tone of voice as relaxed as possible. Some ways you can start the conversation include:

“COVID-19 is still a big risk for me, which is why I’m asking people to wear masks when they come into my home. I hope you’ll respect that this makes me feel safe and protects my health”

“If you’re open to it, I would like to share with you how I’m feeling and how the pandemic is continuing to affect me. I could really use some support”

Treat yourself with self-care activities

We all need some special treatment – that includes special treatment from ourselves. Self-care is doing something that is purely for your own health and well-being.

Here are some ideas to help you get started on your self-care journey.

Practice positive affirmations

In stressful times like a pandemic, it’s easy to get caught thinking negatively all the time. This can be particularly true if you are experiencing disruptions to your treatment/recovery, or if many of your friends and families no longer have to worry as much with fewer restrictions in place.

Try to disrupt that negative thinking by practicing positive affirmations. Look in a mirror and recite some positive things about yourself or your situation.

If you need some help getting started, here are some positive affirmations you can try.

Take care of yourself with exercise, healthy diet, and mindfulness

Exercising, eating nutritious foods, and paying attention to your mental health will make you feel your best. When you feel your best, you will feel more equipped to handle COVID-19 pandemic fatigue.

Talk to others

While you may not able to interact the same way you would pre-pandemic, that doesn’t mean you can’t find creative ways to stay in touch with your friends and families. There’s video calls, emails, texting, and phone calls.

You may find that there’s more pressure from friends and family to go out and meet in-person. You should only do what makes you feel comfortable when it comes to your health and safety. If you don’t feel safe meeting in public, then say no.

When you do talk to your friends or family members, don’t be afraid to talk about what you’ve been experiencing. Ask the other person whether they are in a position to listen to you talk about what’s on your mind when it comes to the easing of restrictions and your own comfort levels. If they say yes, let them know how you’re feeling. Make sure you respect the other person’s boundaries and needs as well as your own when you’re having these conversations.

Minimize your interactions with news and social media

While it’s important to stay informed about COVID-19, health and safety measures, and vaccination updates, it’s easy to get overwhelmed with all the information. It can also be upsetting to see posts about vacations or outings when you aren’t able to partake as readily. You may even become anxious about the health of others.

Choose a couple of reliable, reputable sources for COVID-19 information, and limit your news and social media time if it’s causing stress.

Ways to motivate yourself to keep following COVID-19 safety protocols

If you are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue and want to keep following your own health rules, here are some ways you can motivate yourself.

Take advantage of available protections

The COVID-19 vaccines, masks, protective plexiglass, and other personal protective equipment (PPE) can be incredibly useful in reducing risks associated with COVID-19. Just because masks and PPE are no longer required in most places doesn’t mean you should feel odd about using them. Your comfort and health is what’s most important, which means that if you want people to wear masks when visiting, you should share that (respectfully).

Focus on why you’re following safety measures

While the safety measures may now be self-directed, connect them to a key reason. Your health and the health of other high-risks individuals benefit from safety measures.

Set goals for after the pandemic that you can work towards now

As the pandemic continues to pass, there will be more opportunities to visit people, go on trips, or just spend time out in public. If you have something you want to do, once you feel safe to do so, start working towards it now. For example, if there’s a place you want to go, you can start saving money for it now during the pandemic.