We’re now into the eighth month of the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve all learned to wash our hands for 20 seconds or more at a time and we know how far six feet is between us and the next closest person. When we leave our homes, we’ve always taken our keys, wallet and cell phone; now a face covering is part of that list too.
For many people, this “new normal” is getting old. We long for the days when we can see our friends unmasked and give them a hug, too.
There’s a term for this—pandemic fatigue. People are tired of staying at home. People want to return to being the social creatures we inherently are. People want their “normal” (the “old normal?”) back.
Because of this collective fatigue, some people—consciously or unconsciously—are disregarding pandemic guidance such as physical distancing and wearing face coverings (this could be behind the surge in cases many states are currently experiencing). Other people may be reaching a mental health breaking point.
A recent U.S. Census Bureau survey revealed the psychological toll the pandemic has caused. American adults were asked typical mental health screening questions, with 24% showing clinically significant symptoms of major depressive disorder, while 30% showed symptoms of generalized anxiety disorder. Those rates were higher among some demographics, like younger adults (ages 18 to 29), women and people making less than $25,000 a year.
If you feel like you’re battling pandemic fatigue, here are some coping tips you can try:
• Try a new exercise. Many people have found it hard to stay active during the pandemic. One way to counter this is to experiment with something new like walking, yoga or cycling.
• Put it into words. Sometimes just talking to someone about how you’re feeling, especially if you’re stressed, frustrated or anxious, can be helpful. Ignoring strong feelings won’t make them disappear.
• Meditation can be helpful. Mindful activities can help lower your stress levels and improve your mood. Beach Cities Health District offers mindfulness exercises for free here.
• Try new recipes. This is a good time to prepare healthier meals and use that time as a fun daily activity for you and your family. If you need some inspiration, join the virtual Blue Zones Project Cooking Show with registered dietitian Marisa Martorana Tuesday, Oct. 29 at 4 p.m. She will highlight immune-boosting foods that may help you during this flu season. You can register by clicking here.
Consider how you relaxed before the pandemic and try your best to get back to that lifestyle. If you find cooking, walking, reading a book or listening to music relaxing, do what it takes to keep that as part of your routine.
If you’re worried about your mental well-being, please contact a mental health provider. BCHD’s Assistance, Information & Referral line is available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at (310) 374-3426, ext. 256. They can recommend a number of resources and providers that may be helpful to you or a loved one during this difficult time. A list of resources is also available online at bchd.org/resources.