Coronavirus ‘pandemic fatigue’: What it is and how to cope

Advice for maintaining safety routines to prevent spread of virus

Advice on fighting 'pandemic fatigue'

Amid countless problems caused by the unprecedented coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, experts are now concerned about increasing levels of “pandemic fatigue.”

Health experts are concerned that people are becoming frustrated with the pandemic and will stop taking necessary safety precautions -- which would lead to even more cases.

According to the experts, it is critical that people find ways to cope with the national crisis, especially as we head into fall and winter, where restrictions will be even more difficult to maintain.

For individuals growing tired of wearing a mask and social distancing -- especially with no end in sight -- it can be difficult to maintain safe practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Cleveland Clinic psychologist Dr. Scott Bea says it may not be easy, but we have to find the strength within ourselves to forge ahead.

“I call it willingness: Willingness to do uncomfortable things because we value them and deem them worthwhile, and they protect ourselves and those who we care about,” Bea said.

Experts say that it is natural to let our guard down over time, as we adjust to a threat and stress levels begin to drop. However, they stress the importance of remembering that even if people take a break from safety precautions, COVID-19 does not.

Creating habits out of safety routines can help people following precautions without even having to think about them.

According to Bea, one of the best ways to fight pandemic fatigue is to find new ways to stay on track.

“Finding a new mask, something that excites you, a new social distancing activity; finding something novel and new is a way we excite our brains and it’s a way we can overcome fatigue,” Bea said.

With so many working from home or engaging in virtual learning due to the pandemic, many people are also suffering from “Zoom fatigue.”

It’s important for everyone to take a break and make a point of getting outdoors and experiencing nature.

For children experiencing fatigue, it is important to ensure they are staying active and getting as much exercise as possible. Both children and teens are struggling with the lack of socializing, so families are encouraged to help them find safe ways to connect with their friends.

While pandemic fatigue is widespread, many people are also experiencing anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. Don’t be afraid to seek help from your doctor or a mental health professional. There is no need to suffer in silence.

Below are some free mental health resources, especially for those experiencing a crisis:

    • A 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources
  • Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741
    • A free, 24/7 text line for people in crisis
    • A helpline and online chat resource
  • The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
    • A phone number, online chat and text resource for LGBTQ people between the ages of 13-24
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press 1
    • A free, 24/7, confidential hotline, online chat and text resource for veterans and their families. Send a text message to 838255 for help via text.
  • Michigan-Wayne County Crisis and Referral Line: 800-241-4949
    • 24/7 free, confidential crisis counseling, suicide prevention, and information and referral services

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About the Author:

Dr. McGeorge can be seen on Local 4 News helping Metro Detroiters with health concerns when he isn't helping save lives in the emergency room at Henry Ford Hospital.