Woman wearing face mask looking distressed.
date8th October 2021

Coping with pandemic fatigue

As lockdowns are extended in Auckland and the Waikato, we are reminded once again that COVID-19 is still with us. Our hope to return to normal life sooner rather than later, has been set back once again. It’s fair to say it’s been a challenging 18 months for us all, and we hope that you and your loved ones are doing okay.

We want to remind you that it’s okay to feel mixed emotions right now. It’s okay to feel upset that COVID-19 is still disrupting our day to day life. It’s natural to feel worried about new variants of the virus and the effect it may have on us and our loved ones.

Many of us may also be feeling fatigued. Fatigued that we are still facing the uncertainty of the pandemic as we head towards the end of 2021. Fatigued that our income or jobs still may not be secure, that our freedom to move around is limited and that our loved ones overseas may still not be in reach after so long. We may also feel fatigued from the accumulated grief for the people, relationships or health we’ve lost; or the life experiences, celebrations or opportunities we’ve missed out on.

If you are also now in a lockdown (or have been before, or are fearful your region could enter into one), it is understandable if this situation is taking a toll on your wellbeing, compounding the many mental health effects we’ve felt up to this point. Any “novelty” we might have felt the first time we were in lockdown has likely worn off.

So, what can we do to look after ourselves during this ongoing challenge?

Here are three tips to help you get through pandemic fatigue and stress…

#1. Acknowledge your experience of the pandemic

COVID-19 presents each person with their own set of tiring challenges, so try not to compare your situation to that of others, and focus on what you can do to get through this. Compared to last year, some of us may be struggling more this year, while others may be coping better than before.

Give yourself permission to feel what you feel, without criticising yourself or minimising how you feel. Keep an eye out for thoughts like “I’m being weak, I shouldn’t be upset about this” or “It’s not a big deal, others have it worse than me”. This will just add to your fatigue.

It is possible to maintain perspective and be empathic to others and acknowledge the difficulties of your own circumstances at the same time.

#2. Balance what you think and talk about

Try to strike a balance between acknowledging the current reality of living through a pandemic and focusing on other important or meaningful aspects of your life. It’s normal to think and talk about Covid a lot when it has affected our lives so much. However, when this topic takes up most of your headspace, it can make you feel more fatigued. Try not to let it consume your thoughts or dominate all of your conversations. Consciously shifting your thoughts and focusing on other things can give you a break, help you stay level headed and preserve a feeling of normality. It may also mean making more sensible decisions around consuming media. Aim to consume enough to keep up with health advice and government decisions, but not being drained by doing this too much.

#3. Create opportunities to experience positive emotions

It’s natural for our mood to dip during this time, or to feel more anxious, uncertain or experience other unpleasant emotions. To prevent negativity from spiraling further, we can level out our mood by deliberately finding ways to increase positive emotions.

Every day, plan, schedule, and make sure you do at least:

  • one activity that is fun, pleasurable, relaxing or enjoyable
  • at least one activity that gives you a sense of productivity, achievement, meaning or satisfaction.

It doesn’t matter how small these activities are, the important thing is that they bring you joy – even if only for a few minutes. If lockdown restrictions are getting in the way of your usual activities, be flexible and creative in finding COVID-safe alternatives. This will help energise you if you’re feeling fatigued from negativity.

Further support:

If you or someone you love needs a little extra support during this difficult time, please check out our free Staying on Track course – it’s designed to help you through times of stress and anxiety.

Staying on Track

*This blog post was originally published by our colleagues at This Way Up