Pandemic Fatigue: What It Is and Ways to Combat It
As we enter December, I won’t even mention how far into the pandemic we are. That said, more and more clients are beginning to present with similar symptoms. These symptoms are reminiscent of those struggling with depression, although, these are symptoms many of these clients have never felt before. It’s impossible to ignore the impact the Covid-19 pandemic is having on the mental health of individuals throughout the country and around the world.
Many of the core facets of our lives that bring us joy and happiness are no longer accessible to us. Some of the key indicators of depression are loss of interest in things that bring us joy, withdrawal from loved ones, social isolation, fatigue, feelings of sadness, sleep disturbances, irritability, physical symptoms such as aches and pains, difficulty focusing, etc. In my opinion, it’s hard to find someone in today’s world that’s not struggling with some of these symptoms. Now to clarify, I don’t believe exhibiting these symptoms means you’re depressed. I simply believe these are symptoms of living through a global pandemic.
Many of our clients’ clinicians work with struggle from some type of anxiety, depression, or trauma. These symptoms are then exacerbated by the state of today’s world. Now that we’re in the month of December, we also have the seasonal affective disorder to take into consideration. I previously wrote a few blog posts addressing this disorder specifically. While things are incredibly difficult right now, they are not hopeless. 2021 is right around the corner and there are multiple vaccines in sight.
Today, I find myself asking myself and my clients how we can find joy in the present moment today, despite the suffering happening in the world around us. Instead of waiting until we are vaccinated, or coronavirus has disappeared to be happy, how can we find joy, hope, and relief right now, today?
It’s more important than ever to reach out to people for support and to talk to. This could be a family member, friend, significant other, clergy member, or therapist. Since we can’t see each other in person at the moment, connecting with others via phone, facetime, zoom, or other forms of communication is crucial. Human beings are social creatures that thrive from social connection and interaction. Having healthy supports in place and surrounding yourself with trusted individuals can make a significant difference in how we experience this pandemic.
I know it may seem repetitive, as it seems the solution to everything is to breathe. However, the reason it’s consistently recommended is that when done with intention, it works. “Intentional breathwork has been proven to relax and soothe our central nervous system, which oversees our flight or fight response.” Practice taking a large inhale through your nose and a slow inhale out your mouth consistently throughout your day-to-day. That way, when a moment comes where you may need it. You’ll already have the practice.
Write It Out
Journaling is a great way to process the spinning thoughts inside our minds. When we can’t seem to slow our thoughts or make sense of them, putting pen to paper is helpful in creating some order and perspective. Journaling for five minutes a day is enough to make a significant difference in the clutter in our minds.
Embrace Our Bodies and Nature
Getting outside every day is incredibly important for our mental health. Even if it’s cold and gray outside, being in nature with fresh air for just a few minutes can create a shift. Going for a walk outside is a great way to move our bodies while being outdoors. Practice mindfulness while doing so. Observe your surroundings, honor your body that allows you to move, smell the crisp air and listen to the world around you.
Be Kind to Ourselves
Things are tough right now. There’s no denying that. It’s not beneficial to be hard on ourselves for feeling or acting in a way that may be out of character. Treat yourself how you’d treat a loved one. We’re going through a lot right now and berating ourselves doesn’t do anything to make things better. All feelings are valid and okay. Be kind to yourself and offer self-love and self-compassion.
If you’ve found yourself struggling with pandemic fatigue persisting throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, it may be useful to try counseling in Chicago. Contact Symmetry Counseling at 312-578-9990 to set up an appointment with one of our very skilled and compassionate therapists today!
Written by Kara Thompson-Miller, Licensed Clinical Social Worker: January 2023 “Why is it so hard to like my body?”: A unassumingly complex question that has been asked by many clients in many different variations, but one that, nonetheless, tends…Read More
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