Pandemic Fatigue

12 de November de 2021
4 min

Pandemic Fatigue

About 600 days have passed since the state of emergency was declared (for the first time) in Spain.

What we know as the new normal has stealthily slipped into our daily routines, leaving behind a phrase that increasingly echoes in our ears: “pandemic fatigue.”

What they mean when they talk about pandemic fatigue

The term pandemic fatigue refers to our reaction to the measures derived from the pandemic, characterized by a state of mental, emotional, and physical exhaustion resulting from the health crisis caused by the appearance of COVID-19 (WHO, 2020)

There are a series of factors that converge to cause so-called pandemic fatigue

  • Continuous exposure to a stressful situation such as the presence of the virus
  • Fear and uncertainty: the predominant emotions in recent months that generate that feeling of tiredness
  • Rules and restrictions that limit the amount of positive reinforcements: being away from family, not allowing meetings of cohabitants, nonexistence of cultural activities or social events

We all react differently

Each person has their own way of coping with stressful situations, such as avoidance, denial of what generates stress, or social isolation.

Although each person reacts in a different way, when a stressful situation occurs, we go through three phases in which the organism tries to adapt to the situation:

Alarm phase: when we perceive a danger, the first phase always generates similar reactions such as muscle tension, anxiety, negative thoughts, or restlessness

Resistance phase: it is the phase in which our organism assumes that “there is no other option but to adapt.” Therefore, anxiety levels usually decrease, and a series of processes aimed at accepting the situation appear

Exhaustion phase: occurs when the stressor does not disappear or when our attempt to resist the stressor fails. This is where psychopathology emerges. Without going any further, this is the phase in which we would place the current moment since we have already gone through the initial state of alarm, there has been, in most cases, an attempt at resistance by our organism, and finally, exhaustion arrives.

The result of this whole process, according to the WHO, is that demotivation to follow the recommended protective behaviors that appears gradually and is affected by various perceptions, emotions, experiences, and cultural influences

What can we do to mitigate pandemic fatigue?

One of the keys, as we mentioned before, is the feelings of uncertainty derived from the situation we are living. One thing we can do is not focus on things we cannot control. It’s like trying to predict the future and getting frustrated every time something happens that we couldn’t have predicted.

Another suggestion is to maintain a healthy lifestyle that helps us have restorative sleep, eat well, and try to stay healthy both physically and mentally.

An interesting piece of advice is to limit the number of hours we spend exposed to pandemic news. Just like with celebrity gossip or horror stories, the news related to COVID-19 generates that need to be constantly informed and to know more given the novelty of the topic and its impact at all levels of society. This means we can watch TV or stay updated on the situation in our city, but we should limit the amount of information we receive about it since it magnifies negative emotions and obsessive thoughts.

Finally, although it may seem obvious, it’s very important to maintain social relationships, whether with the classic coffee among friends or through any platform that allows you to talk to your family and friends. Maintaining these types of bonds provides a positive reinforcement that will significantly improve your mood, and also allows you to express emotions and mental states with people close to you.