Americans may be over the pandemic, but the pandemic is far from over. Experts say we’re wallowing in a blue funk over mitigation measures and engaging in risky behavior because we’re simply tired of being cautious.
“I certainly feel it, myself,” said Dr. Anthony Santella, a professor and director of the Doctor of Health Sciences Program at the University of New Haven. “Unfortunately, it’s not just a feeling. It’s impacting people’s health behaviors. It’d be one thing if this fatigue and burden didn’t have an impact on the pandemic, but it clearly does.”
One sign of COVID-19 fatigue, according to the American Medical Association, is “being excessively tired despite adequate rest.” This fatigue, along with social isolation and a sense of ineffectiveness in life, have healthcare professionals worried that the exhaustion can trigger maladaptive behaviors.
According to Axios, as we endure the second year of the pandemic, COVID-19 fatigue is becoming more widespread. Since agencies like the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention rely on the public to follow safety precautions to reduce the transition of the virus, when people stop wearing masks or washing their hands, or maintaining a healthy distance from others, we all suffer the consequences.
This has become more troublesome with the highly contagious Delta variant nipping at our heels and spreading like wildfire across the country.
“People have let their guard down,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a public health professor at George Washington University and author of Lifelines: A Doctor's Journey in the Fight for Public Health. Experts say one of the reasons for our COVID-19 fatigue is that it’s been a roller coaster of expectations followed by disappointments since the pandemic crippled the country, says Axios.
In March 2020, Americans were sent home to isolate expecting to return to a normal life in a few weeks. That stretched to many months until the vaccines offered a promise of hope. In the spring of 2021, the CDC announced that those who were vaccinated didn’t have to wear masks. That reprieve was short-lived when Delta descended on the American scene and the agency encouraged us to mask up once again. Then research ― and some outbreaks ― showed that fully vaccinated people could transmit the virus, much to our collective disappointment.
“For a lot of us, the hope was that this summer would be a good one and we would be entering the fall with a low level of infection,” Wen said.
According to the latest Axios-Ipsos Coronavirus Index, only 34% of Americans feel hopeful compared to 48% polled last March. However, the number of Americans who also feel motivated, energized, inspired or resilient has risen proportionately, says Axios.
That means that many people are reassessing their expectations about how effective our first generation of COVID-19 vaccines alone can be and are committed to doing what they can in the long run.
“We are in a very confusing time in the pandemic where people are making very different choices depending on their own family circumstances, their risk tolerance, as well as the activities most important to them,” Wen said. “It makes navigating life very challenging and leads to individuals questioning one another for the choices they’re making.”
Experts at the American Medical Association suggest fighting COVID-19 funk by:
• Finding ways to have community. Whether it’s a voice chat or playing computer games with others, discover ways to stay connected.
• Maintain hope. With COVID-19 fatigue “you’re tired in your soul—emotionally, psychologically, socially, spiritually, you are just tired and not motivated,’ said Dr. Carl Lambert, assistant professor family medicine at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. “To get out of that fatigue, maintain hope that things will get better.”
• Create a routine or schedule. When we have something to look forward to on a regular basis, we can recreate a sense of meaning and normalcy, says the AMA.
• Focus on what you can control. In an upside-down world, choosing something you can manage makes a huge difference in your outlook. For Lambert, it’s the half hour daily he and his wife work out together in their home gym.
• Continue to follow preventive measures. Lambert reminds us that the vaccines are not 100% effective so wearing a mask remains important.
© 2021 NewsmaxHealth. All rights reserved.