Tags: Coronavirus | pandemic fatigue | social distancing | precautions | mental health

Pandemic Fatigue Is Real and Spreading

man and son wearing masks and jackets walking outside
(Cindy Ord/Getty Images)

By    |   Monday, 26 October 2020 11:30 AM

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 virus. 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 like a tsunami across the globe has been labeled “pandemic fatigue.”

According to The Wall Street Journal, people are letting their guard down even as countries reinforce lockdowns. While surveys show that we are better at enforcing personal hygiene such as wearing masks and washing our hands, the numbers also show that many more people are embracing social gatherings and visiting friends and relatives. For example, 72% of people in France said they were avoiding face-to-face meetings last May, according to a government survey. By mid-September, that figure fell to 32%, according to the Journal.

With cold weather approaching, this trend to gather will become a problem as more people socialize indoors where the virus easily spreads. According to The New York Times, people are feeling a sense of burnout instead of the hope and unity that helped us cope during the first surge of the virus.

According to a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 40% of adults have experienced anxiety, depression, and substance abuse in June. The chronically stressful situation has caused adverse mental health effects, according to the Times.

Frontline workers are experiencing pandemic burnout, and many can no longer effectively do their jobs. Psychologist Dr. Elissa Epel, professor of health psychology at the University of California, San Francisco, advises self-care as one way of combating pandemic fatigue, including getting enough sleep and taking long walks in nature. Exercise is another way to deal with the stress, she said.

“Creating body stress that we then recover from actually in the end creates more energy, not less,” she said. “Walking with a partner with a mask on is like solving two essential pandemic needs at once, social and physical.”

Epel warns against letting pandemic fatigue cloud your judgment and flout the precautionary rules.

“It’s an understandable response, but it is far from a solution,” she said, according to the Times. “If anything, it’s going to stretch out our periods of social distancing and fatigue.” Dr. Epel curates a website that offers resources to support mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The expert said that while the pandemic has triggered tremendous negative changes in our lives, it may also have the potential to elicit positive changes in the future.

“If the glass is half empty and half full, it’s both,” she said. “We have had tremendous loss and irreversible changes, but that is only half the picture.”

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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...
pandemic fatigue, social distancing, precautions, mental health
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2020-30-26
Monday, 26 October 2020 11:30 AM
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