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Sunday, February 5, 2023

COVID-19: Feeling fatigued coping with safety protocols? This is how to unleash the stress

As the pandemic wears on, it makes sense that a part of the population is getting tired of taking coronavirus precautions. We’re tired of being cooped up, tired of being careful, tired of being scared. Our collective fatigue is making some people careless. The World Health Organisation said people are feeling demotivated about following recommended behaviours to protect themselves and others from the virus.

But given that we have little to no control over what happens next during this pandemic, it is important that we continue taking the necessary precautions recommended by the World Health Organisation and our various health agencies. One may ask, how do I handle this whole stress associated with the pandemic? How do I stay happy with my family and friends while being cautious of the threat of contracting the virus?

“This is a real challenge,” said Kaye Hermanson, UC Davis Health psychologist in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. “There are no easy solutions.”

“Many people are exhausted by it all,” she said. “Some are saying they don’t care if they get COVID-19. They’d rather risk getting sick than staying home or being careful. Others have simply stopped listening to health leaders and science.”

This phase could last a while, in part because the disaster – the COVID-19 pandemic – is still going on.

“Eventually, Hermanson said, that heroic spirit to be cautious wears thin as the difficulties and stress build-up. That’s when we hit the disillusionment phase. We lose our optimism and start to have negative or angry reactions.”

About 35-to-40% of people both in Colorado and the U.S. are regularly reporting that they are experiencing symptoms of anxiety and depression as they deal with the pandemic, says the US CDC. That’s up from a baseline that’s closer to 25% before the start of the pandemic.

“Anxiety, sadness/depression, and fatigue are the three biggest impacts we’re seeing on mental health,” Psychologist Justin Ross said.

“As the pandemic marches on, mental health is continuing to take a hit and we’re seeing that prolonged exposure is causing a myriad of problems.”

“Anxiety is being fueled by uncertainty, lacking a sense of control, and having a number of important values in our lives threatened, all at once,” he added.

Aside from the above, Rose said “… fatigue comes from juggling multiple demands all at once and operating from a seemingly endless place of appraising threats to our health and figuring out steps to keep ourselves safe.”

And so how do we handle this? How do we stay happy with our friends and families while staying safe?

Talk about your frustrations

Finding someone – family, friend or professional – to talk to about your frustrations and anxieties is extremely helpful. Ignoring feelings or emotions doesn’t make them go away – eventually, they will all come exploding out and you won’t have as much control.

Engage in constructive thinking

Be compassionate with yourself and others. Feelings come from our thoughts about the situation, and although we can’t change the situation, we can adjust our thinking. Remind yourself, “I’m doing the best I can.”

 Exercise to help cope with COVID-19

Experts say exercise is the best thing we can do for coping with COVID-19. Even a simple walk can help. Exercise releases endorphins, which relieve stress and boost our sense of pleasure. Exercise also channels out adrenaline when frustration builds up. If the air quality is bad outside, try a yoga or workout video inside your home.

Daily to-do list

Take it day by day or even moment by moment. Don’t look too far down the road. Realize you will have good days and bad days, or good moments and bad moments. Realize these things can come in waves. It’s OK to say, “Right now, it’s bad.” Think about what you can do to feel better.

Practice mindfulness and gratitude

Try being in the moment, breathing and looking around at what you have. The more you do this, the easier it gets. We put ourselves through a lot of unnecessary misery projecting into the future or ruminating about the past. For now, just take life day by day.

Be compassionate with yourself

Don’t expect perfection and don’t wallow in mistakes or missed chances. Nobody prepared us for getting through a pandemic. We’re all making it up as we go, and it’s completely fine if you don’t have all the answers or always know what to do. No one does. 

Find things to look forward to

It could be walking with a friend, repeats of your favourite TV series or gathering a group of friends for a virtual trivia night. Even the smallest things can be fun to look forward to in the middle of uncertainty.

Let yourself laugh

There’s a healthy physical reaction to laughing. Laughter can actually induce physical changes in the body and can even set you up for overall long-term health. If nothing else, put on your favourite comedy or read through the comics in the newspaper.

 Look back, but carefully

Psychologists advise that we think about the past year and a half and how far we’ve come. Look at all the things you’ve been through and how resilient you and your community have become.

This story is supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting Covid-19 project.

www. zamireports.com/ Ghana.

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