05 November 2020

Tired of COVID-19? You May Be Facing a Pandemic Fatigue

“Wear your face mask”, “Don’t forget your hand sanitiser”, “Stay safe, stay at home!”

It’s been approximately 7 months and counting of being bombarded with countless advices, instructed to #DudukDiamDiam and adapt to the #JustStayAtHome lifestyle, and halting many of our plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

In hindsight, adapting to the first 2 to 3 months was commendable. Despite the circulation of fake news that led to unnecessary buying of goods, we adapted to our situation fairly quickly in hopes that fast action would lead to a better control of the spread of the virus. 

The phrase, ‘You never know what you’ve got until you’ve lost it’, never seemed so relevant as we relished the moments we could do simple things like chilling at the mamak. So, we pulled through all the difficulties and struggles that came with staying at home and we survived the first phase together.

As numbers went down to single digits, the restrictions started to loosen, marking the start of a new phase — Conditional MCO (CMCO). A familiar taste of normal slowly creeped back. Although different from before, a glimmer of hope came into our lives as we were allowed to go out and meet others after roughly 3 long months. 

Little did we know, just like a roller-coaster, this ride had yet reached its peak.

After finally understanding what the new normal meant to us, here we are, 7 months since the first MCO, back at square 1 after an outbreak in Sabah led to a sudden spike in numbers across the country. Just like that, all our efforts of normalising our new environment was washed away. 

Tired? I’m here to tell you, you’re not alone. 

In fact, this has become such a common occurrence that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has termed this as pandemic fatigue.

Why Do I Feel So Tired?

Are you feeling a roller-coaster of intense negative emotions (worried, sad, frustrated, irritable)? Maybe you’re experiencing changes to your normal routine and are having difficulty with focusing? Or maybe there’s a disturbance with your usual eating or sleeping patterns? This may be signs of pandemic fatigue!

Labelled as a feeling of collective burnout or exhaustion, the ‘pandemic fatigue’ is the result of feeling unmotivated and stressed from the endless amount of SOPs and countless recommended behaviours to protect ourselves and others from the virus. The danger of this is that, as we slowly start to learn how to live with the virus, the pandemic fatigue evolves gradually and becomes more apparent over time and, just like the virus, can happen to anyone.

While it may be normal to feel a burnout when you’re doing something repeatedly over a long period of time to reach a goal, the pandemic fatigue is dangerous because it can make us become lax in keeping up with the precautions. The challenge slowly becomes more taxing and takes a toll on us. In fact, according to The Economist, even though mask wearing has become more widespread around the globe, compliance with other safety measures has decreased over time.

How Do I Keep Up the Fight?

Experts are saying that our next pandemic challenge could be flattening the mental health curve so it’s important for us to keep our well-being in check. 

Here are some small ways you can avoid falling into a pandemic fatigue:

1. Look at the journey instead of the goal

Sometimes, keeping your eyes on the prize can get tiring especially when there are many long-term boulders that need to be conquered. Instead, set your eyes on the journey that you’re in. With the journey mindset you’ll focus more on your personal growth while experiencing the pandemic, giving you strength for what is to come.

2. Reduce your screen time

While we shouldn’t remain ignorant to what’s going on, sometimes it’s better to not listen to every piece of news, especially ones that aren’t from an official news portal. Too much news puts your energy at risk of being zapped and you deserve the rest. Try taking a break from any news until you’re emotionally better.

3. Coming to terms

Sometimes, the best way of dealing with your feelings is by accepting them. It’s completely fine to have these emotions. It’s what makes us human. So process, experience, and embrace whatever feelings you have instead of suppressing it. Then, focus your mind on things that would make you feel better or guide you towards a more positive side of things.

Tip: You can always go to Taylor’s Centre Counselling Services (CCS) for emotional and psychological support.

4. Give yourself some TLC

It’s easy to forget about yourself when your spirit is dampened by what’s going on in the world today. Make sure you clock in an adequate amount of sleep, have a nutritious diet, and exercise whenever possible. This will not only lower your stress levels as well as help boost your mood and energy, but also your mental well-being.

Tip: We’ve got some cool tricks up our sleeves that will definitely boost your mood during these challenging times.

Quoting Director General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “It’s tough and the fatigue is real but we must not, we cannot give up.” At the end of the day, we’ve put in so much effort to stop the spread of the virus and as we come towards the end of 2020, we all deserve a pat on the back for coming this far. 

Let’s not allow the pandemic fatigue to win and supersede our progress.

Ailyn Low