After spending almost a year in quarantine amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, many feel as though they're hitting a wall – relentless feelings of sluggishness, lack of motivation, and "the blues" are all signs and symptoms of an emotional and psychological state that many are referring to as "pandemic fatigue." Being cooped up and experiencing limited social interaction are definitely taking a toll on those of us abiding by COVID-19 protocols in ongoing efforts to keep other people safe.
What is pandemic fatigue? Keep reading for more regarding these seemingly unrelenting blues, the dangers that can come with endless amounts of boredom, and some tips and tricks for staying motivated — and safe — during these incredibly trying times.
What is pandemic fatigue? It can pose a risk for those feeling bored.
In a few weeks, most U.S. residents will have been quarantining for about a year since COVID-19 was officially labeled a pandemic in March 2020. As one might expect, isolating and limiting social interactions for such an extended period of time has many of us feeling what public health experts are calling "pandemic fatigue." Anxiousness, hopelessness, anger, fatigue, and boredom are all common symptoms of the widespread emotional state that so many are feeling right now, as per Science News.
Although these symptoms may seem relatively harmless, they can pose serious risks. Boredom can entice people to stop abiding by social distancing guidelines, despite the looming consequences of spreading or contracting the disease, which has killed over 400,000 people in the U.S. alone, according to Scientific American. Meanwhile, a lack of routine can make doing anything, even what would normally be considered simple tasks, all the more difficult.
Pandemic fatigue can also impair decision-making skills — per Science News, a 2019 study had participants play a monotonous gambling game, and the boredom that ensured encouraged participants to make riskier choices. A 2014 study in Science also observed 42 undergrad students who were forced to sit without distractions. Two-thirds of male students and a fourth of female students opted to press a button for an electric shock, implying that some may prefer pain to boredom.
So, what can cure pandemic fatigue?
With widespread vaccinations in the distant future, many of us may be feeling crippling pandemic fatigue. But according to UC Health, there are a few ways to mitigate these hopeless feelings. Taking time to check in on yourself is incredibly important — talking to a therapist or writing in a journal may help you come to terms with your emotions. Breathing and meditating is also a sure-fire way to reduce anxiety, so we strongly suggest checking out our favorite meditation apps.
And although "doomscrolling" may be enticing, especially when we have nothing else to do, taking some time away from social media and news may help. Instead, take a walk, a bath, or read a book — restoring and replenishing your energy with worthwhile breaks makes surviving quarantine a little easier. Exercise may also help, and since it's a natural energy booster, it's bound to have you feeling a little better in no time.
The pandemic is definitely taking a toll on all of our emotions right now, but just remember we're all in this together — if the feelings become increasingly difficult to shake off, however, we strongly suggest talking to a mental health professional. Most of us could definitely use an extra ear right now.