By Maia Bondy, FGTC Clincal Supervisor
I’m starting to wonder if this pandemic will ever end.
Back in March, I, like many others, packed a cardboard box full of files, a couple pens, and a paper legal pad- enough supplies to last me 2-3 weeks.
It feels like it has been 400 Mondays since the first work from home Monday in March. The first few weeks were spent cleaning my house, finding the best spot to claim as my new “office,” and figuring out that I needed a better chair to support my back for 8 hours a day.
One week I taught myself calligraphy. The next week I started a puzzle. I baked, cooked, binge watched, and went on countless walks. Before I knew it, I had to order more office supplies, because I was wrong, and I wasn’t just home for 2-3 weeks. I was getting really good at the staying-at-home thing!
By week 6, I realized we were running a marathon, but we had no idea what mile we were on. Here we are, officially in autumn almost 6 months later, and we still haven’t stopped running. Here’s the thing: I HATE running, so this metaphor sucks!
Sure, some people have been following the quarantine rules a bit differently and are probably doing fine. That’s great for them. Personally, I have had very little interaction with the outside world, and it is starting to get to me.
I’m more tired than normal. I’m a bit crankier when I have to do things that don’t seem fun. I’m sad about the world. Then, I start to catch myself feeling like I live in a groundhog week.
This is called Pandemic Fatigue.
Everyone feels it a bit differently, but for me it is an obsession with the unfairness. I feel trapped in my neighborhood, meanwhile others I know seem to be carelessly taking vacations to the beach with 50 of their friends. I get mad when someone isn’t wearing a mask, because I want this to end and all my angry energy comes out when I see that one person not following the rules.
It’s okay to be angry with me. It’s okay to be sad. It’s also okay to be fine! However, if you are feeling stuck in groundhog week, as I started calling it, here’s some ideas to help you get through it:
Change your routine!
When was the last time you took a day off? (Seriously, what are you saving those PTO days for?) When was the last time you drove up the coast? Ordered food in instead of cooked? Cooked instead of ordering food? Routines are great in helping us cope, but they can become mundane if too repetitive. Try adding something new for one week!
Set a new goal!
Remember those first 2-3 weeks of quarantine when you were living your best life while baking sourdough bread or spring cleaning? That’s because you had a goal and you were working towards it. You were motivated, driven, and excited. That wore off when the goal was accomplished or you got bored. Now it’s time to set a new goal!
Think SMART (stands for specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time specific) and start small. Instead of “remodel the house,” choose a room to paint. Instead of “lose 50 pounds,” increase your walks to 3 miles a day instead of 2!
Find an emotional outlet.
Some of my clients love journaling, as it helps them organize their thoughts as they write. Others enjoy painting. Some enjoy running. If you haven’t found yours yet- try them all until one sticks!
Limit your media exposure.
I cannot stress this one enough. My clients who limit their exposure to the news/media are doing significantly better than those who spend all day watching the updates. It’s okay to gradually wean yourself off if you feel like this is a big leap! If you’ve started to fall back into old habits and are glued to the media, it’s time to limit yourself again. The best part is that you can control when/what exposure you get- which might feel like the only control you have over what is going on in the world.
Limit social media, too.
It’s great to feel connected with others, but if you notice you are having negative feelings or spending too much time living in the never-ending world of TikTok, take a few days off. It’ll be there when you get back!
Make plans with friends!
It’s the perfect weather for a picnic (with masks and 6 feet apart) or a walk with a friend. This might require some planning and strategy, but the reward of feeling “normal” and connecting with others in person is worth it. Think of social connection as self-care and prioritize this time with others.
In April, I remember thinking that it’s been a long year. I think it’s safe to assume that this has been a long year for most people. As we head into the fall, you might notice that it is getting harder to navigate your pandemic fatigue.
If you need help managing the symptoms of anxiety and depression that often accompany pandemic fatigue, please reach out to us for an appointment with one of our clinicians.