As cases of COVID-19 continue to soar, healthcare officials are concerned that people are becoming tired of following the restrictions and precautions needed to contain the pandemic.
Statistics show that more people are returning to pre-pandemic activities, even as experts warn us to remain vigilant. The collective exhaustion experienced worldwide as the virus’ second wave roars across the globe has been labelled “COVID fatigue” by public health officials.
President Donald Trump recently summed up the current sentiments. “People are tired of COVID,” he said, according to ABC News. “Yep, there’s gonna be spikes, there’s gonna be no spikes, there’s gonna be vaccines — with or without vaccines, people are tired of COVID.”
Experts said that COVID-19 fatigue can lead, not only to noncompliance to precautionary measures, but can also take its toll on our mental wellbeing. An article published in JAMA warned that the second wave has been marked by “rising rates of mental health and substance abuse disorders. The imminent mental health surge will bring further challenges for individuals, families, and communities including increased deaths from suicide and drug overdoses.”
Psychologists told ABC News that their first and foremost message to the public is: “We’re going to get through this.” Dr. Georges Benjamin, executive director of the American Public Health Association who is regarded as one of the nation’s most influential medical leaders on the impact of health issues, said, “I remind people that there will be an end to this. It’s continuously evolved, but it will end.”
People are tired of having to make decisions about how to proceed with their lives safely in the midst of often contradictory information. Experts told ABC News that focusing on consistent public health tools like being outdoors as much as possible, wearing masks, and physically distancing can help make those decisions easier. Creating small, social pods of close family and friends can help normalize some social activity during the pandemic.
With the holidays approaching, Benjamin said planning makes perfect. “We should recognize we’re going to do the holidays differently,” he advised. “We should just plan for it, so it just doesn’t come up on you.
Noted expert Dr. Jacob Teitelbaum, author of “From Fatigued to Fantastic,” told Newsmax that keeping your immune system strong by taking appropriate supplements such as zinc (15mg), vitamins A (2250 units), C (500 mg.), D (1000 units), and K (100 micrograms) will help also combat fatigue. He also recommended getting sufficient sleep.
“Just stay vigilant by wearing masks in public and wiping down frequently used surfaces such as handrails and doorknobs and get outside as much as possible,” he said. Teitelbaum also recommended that people edit the amount of information they receive about the deadly danger of the virus. “You don’t need a play-by-play recap of every casualty,” he said.
“It’s okay to get out of the house, start getting back together with trusted people, and get on with your life as long as you follow common sense procedures,” he added.
To help manage stress, Dr. Claude Ann Mellins, a psychologist at Columbia University Irving Medical Center, told ABC News that doing things like yoga, or any activity that brings you joy, is recommended. Benjamin added that it is also important to take care of your physical body by being active and eating well.
But if COVID-19 fatigue is affecting your mental health, do not be afraid to get help.
“Asking for mental health help is a sign of strength, not weakness,” said Mellins. “It is much easier to engage in healthy behaviors when’re you’re feeling like the ground is beneath your feet and you’re in a solid place.”
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