COVID-19 and pandemic fatigue

A syndrome that appeared in November

It was the World Health Organization that sounded the alarm by issuing a document for governments entitled "Pandemic fatigue. Remotivating the population to prevent Covid-19". 

Anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, but also boredom, loneliness, loss of reference points, difficulty in projecting oneself into the future,so many physical but especially psychological problems that raise fears of a relaxation of protective behaviors and social distancing.

This is normal

The human being has the ability to get used to a situation, even a complicated one, stressful. It is one of our great qualities, to be able to adapt and withstand difficult conditions. We have developed new habits, from masks to hand washing and remote greetings. But these habits, we had to take them quickly, and in a very anxiety-provoking context, and very exceptional.

That is the first aspect of this situation: it is unprecedented for many countries, many people.

Pandemics are not new, and they have already killed many. But like war, our generations have never experienced this. And so much the better. But it is also, logically, a shock. We are used to a certain comfort, we have lifestyle habits. And habits, we need them, that's what allows us to keep a certain serenity. Our reptilian brain pushes us to have a certain regularity in our life.

In addition, when a difficult situation is prolonged, two parallel phenomena are created.

Adaptation and wear

The first is thatwe get used to the danger. While at the beginning of the pandemic, it was difficult not to feel anxiety, fear in the face of one of the fundamental fears of the human being, some people are alive – death – today many people prefer to "live" and take the risk of contamination, rather than continue to follow health rules that deprive us of meetings , physical contact, discovery, leisure.

The other phenomenon is wear and tear through anxiety. Having to think about COVID all the time, even inside our homes, is tiring, and it's demotivating. An additional weariness that is taking hold in addition to the one we could already experience on a daily basis, before the pandemic. Anxiety, insomnia, difficulty concentrating, organizing one's life, projecting oneself… When you were already experiencing stress at work, in your emotional life, or difficulties in finding your way, in building a professional project, the dose can be too high for some.

First there was the shock, the psychological ill-being born at the beginning of the pandemic. Fear of illness and death, for oneself and for one's loved ones. But also the loss of reference points,when you have to reorganize your company, your professional activity, start working from home while also managing children's classes – many novelties to manage without any prior training, without any help.

There are those who have lost their jobs, who cannot therefore practice their art, whatever it may be. And with unemployment, the loss of income, even if alternative measures have been put in place. It is more bearable when it is short-term. But when it is prolonged, andin addition to the fear of the disease we also have the fear of lack of money,it is a huge stress that accumulates. The fear of the consequences of the pandemic now surpasses that born of the risks of the disease itself.

In addition, we have less and less opportunities to escape, to distract ourselves. The pandemic reminds us from morning to night, creating a continuous tension. Distractions are reduced: in France and in many countries, no more theater or concerts, zumba classes or percussion to let off steam. Of course, there are online concerts, films and series, on dedicated platforms. But we discover how much we miss the "live" and social exchanges around these activities.

It is mainly young people who suffer from this lack of social life, in addition to financial problems, and the lack of prospects for their professional and personal future.

Older people suffer mainly from a lack of contact with others. Children, on the other hand, are more stressed, more brawling, and lack concentration – it is difficult, when an anxiety-provoking situation lasts, not to transmit stress.

How to combat pandemic fatigue

What we can already do to combat this fatigue is first to identify it. The simple "I'm tired of this situation" can allow us to recognize our fatigue, to accept it, but also to take the problem seriously, for oneself and for those around it. In order to set up tools, practices, tricks to fight against.

What exactly are we tired of? Wearing a mask? Lack of social interactions? Lack of shows, restaurants?

By identifying what weighs the most, we can then think about the alternatives that may be presented to us. We can no longer, for the moment, meet at 10 in the restaurant for a good dinner with friends. But we can have lunch at one or the other's house, for two. It may be the right time, then, to deepen friendly or romanticrelationships, to focus on listening and discovering the other more deeply.

The "for now" is also important. One of the difficulties in combating a difficult situation that lasts over time is the lack of possibility of projecting oneself. However, since the development of vaccines and the better knowledge of the transmission of the virus and the disease, we already have more means to fight against the pandemic.

It is a light at the end of the tunnel. We have already held a year. According to many studies, it will probably take us less time to get out of it. So we have certainly already gone halfway. If we take the time to understand, to remember that all these health measures are above all to save lives, we must see this as a marathon. It stings during the race, but when you cross the finish line, you're proud to have accomplished something that maybe you thought you didn't.

The good sides

Not everyone suffers from this pandemic fatigue. Some people appreciate teleworking, the time saved. To no longer have to suffer public transport or traffic jams, open spaces,colleagues.

Others took the opportunity to spend more time with their children, better understood who they were, their dreams, what they were learning in school. Others say they had time to reflect on what really mattered to them in life – the prospect of death awakens fundamental thoughts that sometimes come at the right time. Perhaps you too have seen some positive aspects to this crisis…

Caring for yourself

A pandemic is also an opportunity to reflect on one's way of life, on one's health.

When we have been locked up for weeks and months, we have been able to realize that nature, exercise in thefresh air,is fundamental for our physical health as well as for our mental health.

That with the closure of restaurants, we may have the opportunity to rethink our food, to eat healthier,to take the time to do our shopping differently, to learn to cook.

That the quality of our sleep is important. Because to deal with a disease, we don't just have masks and hydroalcoholic gel, we also have our immune defenses. If you suffer from anxiety and your sleep suffers, do sports (walking every day, outdoors, even if it's cold, it's important) and do not hesitate to take supplements to help you sleep better.

And unplug, meditate: there are now a plethora of apps, videos and podcasts with guided meditations. Depending on your preferences, go to bed with calm music, bird songs, the sound of rain or a cracking wood fire. Take a bath, a hot shower … Set everything up to disconnect. If you need to keep up to date with information, prefer in the morning to read, watch or listen: the rest of the day, we live!

To think that there is more serious

The fear of the consequences of the pandemic now surpasses that born of the risks of the disease itself. Yet, if you think about it, it may be easier to recover from a one-off economic problem than from a disease, if you develop it in its serious form, or from the loss of a loved one. Silver wound is not deadly… In other countries, the situation is terrible. It's human: we console ourselves by comparing ourselves to others, when we see that the misfortunes are greater.

We can also take a step back, and say that we are still alive (it's still cool, because others have died), and that we areable to face,to survive in any case, something quite huge, quite disruptive too. And when we know what changes – climatic, social, economic – await us in the future, we can also say that it is a training for adaptation and resilience.

Our emotions are just emotions

We must remember that we have power over our emotions. It is quite normal and logical to have so many negative emotions, because one reacts at the same time to many factors of stress and exhaustion, weariness and rejection.

But we are the ones who create these emotions. So we have the power to talk to them, to analyze them, to gain the upper hand. For example, when you are afraid for your future, you can work to tell yourself that the future, you do not knowit. Just as we did not see this crisis coming, we did not expect its positive consequences: the return to local markets, more time spent with loved ones, teleworking that may have freed up some tiring journeys. The new relations with its neighbors, its neighborhood merchants.

A beneficial questioning of his work, his lifestyle, his choice of habitat.

The present moment and the little joys

To combat negative emotions, you have to focus on what you can still do, what you control, rather than what you can't do. Think about the present and everything you can do, live, pleasant in your day. Fresh croissants at breakfast. Games with children, cats or dogs. Nature walks and picnics, solo video games or family board games. Books that we may not have had time to read. A good raclette and a good wood fire. Listening to a concert, practicing a musical instrument, diy, gardening, sports…

Writing also helps, a lot, to get into flow, to detach from problems, emotions and ruminations. Start by listing everything you can do,right now, everything that remains possible.

Change

Be créatif.ve and think about what you can change in your daily life if you find it monotonous, if you feel bored.

For example, vary the shops where you go shopping, and change the route to go there. Order online, from one shop to another, from one restaurant to another. Decorate and redevelop your interior, change haircut or color, wardrobe. In short, introduce new to break the feeling of saturation.

Make projections – and projects

Finally, think about the future.

Make a list of what you're missing, and start planning, without necessarily setting a date. Next year? This trip to the Balearic Islands, this weekend in Stockholm. The concerts of this group, the shows, the restaurants you want to discover. The activities you miss and the ones you've always wanted to do.

A projection exercise that can also allow us to rethink our life, but also what we do with our society. Our consumption, our relationship to distractions, our relationship to others. How the world works, and what we might decide to change.

And what we could do, concretely, to get into action: join an association, create a neighborhood group, a collective garden, set up an educational or sports project for example. Look for what exists, join groups on social networks, start exchanging, imagine your world after. And even your world now: if you have ideas to improve everyday life,share them!

Making projects is also what makes you feel how lucky, in absolute terms, you are. To have friends, relatives, even if we miss them. But also the freedom to go out and move, the means to afford outings, travel and leisure. All this, even – especially – if we have been deprived of it for a few months, we will enjoy them even more when we finally have defeated this pandemic.

And we will overcome it, as we have surpassed all the others.

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