COVID-19 has robbed us of too much, half the year has been lost while many stayed at home, it has high jacked our lives and took away the basic freedom of movement, stole jobs and livelihoods. It has robbed many of memorable experiences and pivotal celebrations such as weddings, the rituals essential to humanity such as spending time with loved ones; even grieving or burying loved ones. We even find ourselves limited in everyday acts of kindness which require human interaction as we fear for our safety as well as for those we may interact with. It is no wonder that most people are “over COVID-19.”
When widespread lockdowns began across the world in response to COVID-19, many hoped life would get back to normal in a couple of weeks. Now, months later and counting, there is still no end in sight for the pandemic. When the country moved to Level 1 of the lockdown, many breathed a sigh of relief, let their guard down and started doing all they could to return to ‘normal.’ But the resurgence of the virus, in many parts of the country, may pose a threat of possible restrictive lockdown measures being implemented once again and maybe even possible closures of certain sectors.
Seven months and counting after the onset of the pandemic, many are exhausted, frustrated and fatigued by the actions required to curb the spread of the virus. In the blistering heat, masks feel more like punishment than a lifeline, hands are suffering from the endless washing and forced sanitising and many cannot stand not being able to be in close proximity or to even hug their friends and family, all in the name of social distancing. It seems as if even those tasked with implementing the safety regulations are tired and have lost their initial vigilant spirit, now many simply turn a blind eye to offenders.
Being tired also affects people’s performance at work or at school and it poses a strain on relationships, while becoming more relaxed about health and safety precautions or giving up, poses a health threat to society at large and could make the effects of the crisis worse.
The stress brought on by the pandemic, as well as the toll on the mental health of many, is also another aspect of the pandemic that still remains with us. The focus of the international community has been on Mental Health this October, justifiably so when one takes into account the impact the pandemic and lockdown has had in heightening stress, depression, anxiety, feelings of isolation, loss, grief, etc.
As much as people are “over” all things COVID-19, it’s important to remember that the threat posed by the virus has not subsided, there is still no cure for it and it is still as deadly as it was when it first reached our shores in March.
People feel physically and mentally tired, their bodies and brains have become tired from being in fear and staying highly alert for a prolonged time. The sense of urgency has faded for many, most feel burned out physically and mentally by the stress from fear of infection, social isolation, changes in routine, uncertainty etc.
In order to combat this fatigue, we need to prepare mentally and emotionally for the long haul in regard to the pandemic. We also need to make room for addressing and coping with the impact of the pandemic and the associated pandemic fatigue on our lives, as well as on our mental health in be it in our families, communities, work, school, etc. Despite our personal feelings, we need to acknowledge that keeping up the precautions will protect individuals, their communities and society at large.
Another possible method for overcoming the fatigue is by establishing new routines in order to regain a sense of control of one’s life, such as setting aside time to exercise, and being clear about time for work and rest. Tapping into social support reserves, albeit it being through the use of technology at our disposal, to improve our sense of belonging, provides key resources for mitigating stress.
Increasing our awareness regarding the pandemic, its effects and adapting to the inevitable changes we are faced with, as well as taking practical steps to deal with the economic effects of the pandemic, will help combat feelings of helplessness and uncertainty.
Embracing our resilience will help us to adapt to all kinds of difficult circumstances and increasing our coping resources will help us to overcome pandemic fatigue. Helping or supporting others will help us shift focus from ourselves, while we inevitably strengthen our resilience.
We encourage you to not allow pandemic fatigue to set in and sabotage all of the work, efforts implemented and sacrifices made, individually and as a nation, to combat this pandemic and for us not to doubt our ability to overcome against all odds.
In the event that you feel overwhelmed by the effects of COVID-19 or Pandemic Fatigue, you may make use of the various services available through:
Depression and Anxiety Helpline
0800 70 80 90
Suicide Crisis Line
0800 567 567
SADAG Mental Health Line
011 234 4837
24hr Helpline 0800 456 789
Akeso Psychiatric Response Unit 24 Hour
0861 435 787
“Resilience is the maintenance of high levels of positive effect and well-being in the face of adversity. It is not that resilient individuals never experience negative effects, but rather that the negative effect does not persist.” – Richard Davidson