Coping with Pandemic Fatigue

Anthony Lo

It’s been about a year since the first COVID-19 cases were announced in the U.S. and since then we’ve all been trying our best to remain safe via social distancing, wearing face coverings in the form of face shields and/or masks, limiting contact with people who are not in our current social bubble/circle. This certainly has created challenges in many ways such as working from home, learning from home, limiting association with our family and friends, adjusting or even completely eliminating our recreational/social activities. As a result, many people are experiencing a condition known as ‘Pandemic Fatigue’. 

Pandemic fatigue is a term describing the apathy or complacency many have developed this past year. As a result, we start to let our guard down when it comes to sticking to COVID-19 precautions especially if the virus hasn’t hit home or affected us or our families directly, increasing our risk. Additionally, with news of vaccines arriving and being distributed in the U.S., it is easier to become even more complacent. However, we have to remember that the virus is still a threat and while we may not be affected directly by COVID-19, we still have responsibility to keep ourselves and those around us (eg. family, friends, co-workers, healthcare providers, etc) safe. Here are some ways we can all work together and continue to stay safe during the pandemic:

  • Keep a commitment
    According to many studies, behavioral changes can begin with a clear intention and a promise. Just like remaining committed to your home exercises/fitness routine can help keep you physically healthy/mobile, the same commitment to staying safe and healthy can help us to adhere to recent recommendations in social distancing, wearing a face covering, and washing our hands.
  • Practice precautions until they’re second nature
    The next step to developing a new habit (i.e. social distancing, frequent hand washing, wearing a mask) is to repeat it until it doesn’t feel like a chore. Similar to starting a new home exercise program, with repeat rehearsal, new activities feel less burdensome/awkward and become more second nature.
  • Keep necessary supplies handy
    By making protective gear easily accessible, you’re less likely to feel that it’s a burden to have to find some. Of course, in today’s climate, most places will supply you with a mask however it’s probably best to have your own steady supply on hand to avoid the stress of trying to find one.
  • Stay mobile:
    If you’re reading this, chances are you’re a physical therapy patient with some exercises to do! If you don’t already have one, now would be a great time to start a routine of home exercises. Feel free to communicate with your provider to print out/email a home exercise program to you to get started. Incorporating a regular routine of exercises to practice in between physical therapy visits, not only will help pass the day but also may improve your potential in rehab!

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