How to survive COVID fatigue

It’s been almost two years since the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the world. And from some perspectives, very little has changed since the beginning. Despite vaccine rollouts and treatments that promise life returning back to normal, the virus is still affecting pretty much everyone all over the world.

After dealing with so much for so long, many people are starting to experience more and more COVID fatigue.  

What is COVID fatigue?

COVID fatigue is a genuine condition recognized by the World Health Organization. The WHO describes it primarily as lacking the motivation to follow the recommended guidelines to protect yourself and others against the virus. It can also make you feel exhausted and overwhelmed with the “new normal” of everyday life and lead to depression and anxiety too. 

COVID fatigue symptoms

COVID fatigue symptoms vary between individuals, but here are some of the most common signs to look for to find out if you’re experiencing pandemic burnout:

  • Struggling at work: If you’re having problems focusing and being productive at work, you may have COVID fatigue. Studies suggest that people experiencing pandemic burnout engage in a lot of negative self talk. 
  • Being anxious about the future: No one knows when the pandemic will end. Being surrounded by uncertainty can make you feel like you have no control over your life, leading to anxious feelings about your personal future, as well as the future of the world as a whole.
  • Feeling emotionally drained: Being emotionally exhausted and pessimistic are also signs of COVID fatigue and/or signs of depression.  Research has shown that people who have experienced the most interruption to their lives report higher levels of depressive thinking but it can happen to anyone.

5 steps for managing COVID fatigue

After almost two years of uncertainty, restrictions, and worry, it’s natural to experience COVID fatigue. Here are five ways to help you cope with life as the pandemic inches along. 

  1. Make time for recovery

When ordinary day-to-day activities become too much to handle, you need to set aside time to recover every day. You can make a schedule and include daily recovery time or give yourself space to recover each time you feel overwhelmed — whatever works best for you. Re-charging and self-nurturing activities are two important ingredients to surviving stressful situations. 

During your recovery time, avoid the news, social media, and anything to do with the pandemic. Instead, focus on a favorite pastime, spending time with friends (without discussing current events), or simply take a nap. The news is designed to sell ad space and notoriously focuses on negative content more than positive.  Don’t get sucked in to the negative vortex.  Limit your exposure to news to a short amount of time and don’t keep “researching” and immersing yourself in the environment of fear and doom and gloom. 

It doesn’t matter whether your recovery time lasts ten minutes or two hours, breaking your routine and escaping from the pandemic chaos will make you feel better.

  1. Relax in your own way

There are countless recommended ways to relax, from taking a walk to soaking in the tub. However, not all of these tips work for everyone. To help you stop feeling overwhelmed about the pandemic, focus on the activities that help you to relax. 

Some people find activities like yoga and reading relaxing, but not everyone. Others find it helpful to focus their attention in a different direction, such as learning a new language or practicing a musical instrument. Experiment with different hobbies until you find one that truly helps you feel relaxed.

  1. Limit your content consumption

With rules and regulations changing almost constantly, it can be tempting to stay glued to social media and the news. But instead of providing you with useful information, these channels can make you feel exhausted and overwhelmed. 

Lessen the burden by only checking trustworthy, reliable sources for your COVID-19 details and avoid social media channels loaded with fake news. It can also be helpful to limit your content consumption to a specific time for a set number of minutes to avoid spiraling into a dark hole. Remember the news is a business and not a public service announcement.  

  1. Use time blocks at work

If you’re having problems being productive at work, use time blocks to help you get more done and feel more accomplished. Bundle similar tasks you’re struggling to complete together and work through them until you’re done. After they’re complete, you’ll have a sense of satisfaction and productivity.

When other people in your work environment are also struggling, it may be possible to trade tasks. By taking over projects or assignments that overwhelm others, you may be able to offload some of the ones causing you trouble.

  1. Increase your resilience

Having high resilience gives you the power to bounce back from difficult circumstances. Boosting your resilience level will help you recover from the challenges of the pandemic, as well as many tough positions you come across in the future.

Researchers recommend one of the best ways to boost your resilience during the pandemic is to remind yourself of everything you’ve already been through. You’ve successfully overcome 100% of your most difficult days so far. You can continue and conquer the ones yet to come.  You can also focus on what you’ve accomplished each day rather than on what you need to accomplish.  This success mindset will empower you forward. 

When to get help

COVID fatigue is very real and the symptoms you’re experiencing are genuine. You need to remember that you’re not alone and many people are dealing with it every day. If you need some help and support to get you through the pandemic, we’re here to help.

If you’re becoming depressed, overwhelmed by anxiety, or have lost the will to protect yourself and others, it’s time to reach out. At CytiPsych, we’ve got a team of trained therapists ready to help you get through one of the most challenging and unpredictable times of your life. 

Contact us today to schedule your first appointment. Our online therapy sessions can be as little as $0 per visit with insurance. 

The information on this page is not intended to be a substitution for diagnosis, treatment, or informed professional advice. You should not take any action or avoid taking any action without consulting with a qualified mental health professional. If you are in a crisis or any other person may be in danger,  these resources can provide you with immediate help:
Suicide and Crisis Lifeline 988
24 Hour Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1.800.273.8255
Crisis Text Line Text TALK to 741741