Help for Pandemic Fatigue
Theresa Polley
September 14, 2020
September 7, 2023
Self Care

Six months into it and I've taken a few steps moving forward. But then there are the steps backward. Maybe that's why it feels like I'm standing still.

I believe the mental and emotional toll of having my life in upheaval is the main culprit. I'm ready to hug people again. Go back to the gym and indoor dining. Embrace the casual routine of my life - which I took for granted. And when my biggest annoyances last September was the pumpkin spice phenomena. Now I worry about people not fully wearing their masks and standing too close to me in the grocery store.

Avoid Guilt and Comparative Suffering

For me, the worst thing about pandemic fatigue is feeling guilty about it. I have been inconvenienced by the shutdown - my business has suffered, my vacation plans were canceled and my son can't visit from Colorado yet. On the other hand, I'm still able to put food on the table and Mason and I and the rest of our family are healthy. I'm not comfortable going back to the gym or indoor dining. But I am walking and doing yoga at home and I will eat on a restaurant patio. A little inconvenience yes, but why am I so exhausted by it? I feel guilty even admitting I have pandemic fatigue.

When you compare your suffering to someone else's, it's what's known as comparative suffering—it’s never helpful and can actually be harmful. Brene Brown talks about it on her podcast and it gave me an "aha moment." Listen here for the full scoop.

Comparative suffering doesn't make our load or our neighbor's (who may or may not have a more dire situation) any easier. Instead, it makes our load heavier to carry. We are on the hamster wheel of guilt and the load of stress and anxiety can be overwhelming as we think "I shouldn't feel bad about my situation because I don't have it as bad as someone else."

When we allow ourselves to fully acknowledge and grieve, we are able to find peace and joy in the big and small moments - without guilt.

How to Manage Pandemic Fatigue

  • Limit Social Media - In addition to negative or inaccurate posts, there is plenty of judgement to go around. I say keep your head down and don't engage. Look for the cute dogs and babies and then get out.
  • Take Mindfulness Breaks - Time not on your device is a mindful break, whether it's spending time in nature, enjoying physical movement, reading, cooking or something else that takes your head out of the panic of what's going on and into the present moment.
  • Move - Your body. It helps mentally and emotionally - not just physically.
  • Acknowledge - You can't control or influence anyone - not their opinion, their actions or their reaction. That includes relatives, partners and friends. What you can control is you. Your thoughts, your actions and your responses.
  • Respond not React - A lot of times are initial response to a situation is not a well thought out response, but a knee jerk reaction. "How dare she take off her mask before leaving the store." "Why would he post such an ignorant thing on Facebook." The list goes on. While all of these behaviors may offend you,and that's ok, instead of reacting with an evil look at the shopper or an insulting comment on Facebook (which is sure to make things worse), ignore and move on.
  • Set Boundaries - Around everything. People, places and things. Limit your interactions with people (even though you love them) who are pushing a negative or false agenda. If restaurants make you nervous, stay away - suggest a backyard gathering to friends who are eager to get out. Don't let your device run your life. Turn off notifications - especially from social media and news sites.
  • No Judgement - Of yourself or anyone else out there. We're all doing our best.

Whatever you're going through, remember you're not alone. We are in this together, but we don't have to suffer. We can just keep putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward until we emerge on the other side of the tunnel.

This blog is intended to provide helpful suggestions for self care and overall well-being. I am not a mental health professional. If you’re struggling I encourage you to seek the help of a professional. Find a Mental Health Professional | National Suicide & Crisis Lifeline: Dial 988

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Theresa Polley

Theresa believes ALL women have the right to live life on their own terms. In 2004, she created Retreat in the Pines to give women a safe space to be their authentic selves without apology while finding the healing and renewal they deserve.

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