7 ways to fight pandemic fatigue

May 12, 2022 • 5 min

If you’re feeling more irritable, restless, foggy, anxious or frustrated as the world enters the third year of the COVID-19 pandemic continues, you’re not alone. Many people are experiencing pandemic fatigue, an umbrella term for a group of stressors related to the pandemic’s ongoing disruption of our lives. Disruption of routines, changing public health guidance, grief, loss and abundant uncertainty can result in sleeplessness, irritability, increased stress and worry, decreased motivation and engagement, inability to focus and an all-consuming exhaustion that won’t seem to go away.

Pandemic fatigue takes a massive toll on mental health and well-being. If this struggle sounds familiar, here are some free, science-based strategies to help you break out of pandemic fatigue and thrive:

Clean up your sleep

Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep improves your mood, can help you make good decisions throughout the day and can even help you lose weight. To build a great sleep routine, give yourself a bedtime and start winding down a few hours before. Make your bedroom as cool, dark and quiet as you can, and put the screens away – the blue light they emit really does make it harder to fall asleep. Instead of watching TV or looking at your phone, drink some calming tea, stretch, meditate or read a book before bed.

Learn something new and exciting

Variety is more than the spice of life: Research suggests that having new experiences is a fundamental part of our psychological health. Learning a new skill gives you something to look forward to and focus on, it can increase your confidence, and it can contribute to the well-being of others as well. Whether you’re starting a garden, cooking trying a new recipe or learning to play the guitar, digging into a new hobby can change how you experience your everyday routine.

Be kind…to your mind

Studies show that the way we talk to ourselves affects our happiness more than any other factor. If the voice inside your head has become more negative over the past two years, try meditation, affirmations or journaling. These free options can help us turn down the dial on negative self-talk and treat ourselves with more compassion. That, in turn, can help us move through challenging times with more confidence and resilience.

Try a new way to move your body

It’s no surprise that exercise has wide-ranging mental and physical health effects, and we know it can help us cope with the constellation of stressors that make up pandemic fatigue. From trying a new workout online YouTube to heading in a different direction for your daily walk, a little variety might be just what you need to keep your motivation high and meet your exercise goals.

Take one small step

Even if you’re not among  the COVID-19 pandemic has given us all reason to be on edge. If you’re feeling anxious, overwhelmed or uncertain (and who isn’t?), taking action, even a small one, can help calm those racing thoughts. Pick a project, andproject and set a timer for 10 minutes. What you decide to do is not important – the act of making a little progress toward a goal can boost energy and give you a surge of motivation that might lead to even better things.

Get ready every day

In the spring of 2020, being able to sit at home in your pajamas all day may have seemed like one of the pandemic’s few silver linings. But more than two years in, things have changed. Getting dressed and ready to face the world can help boost thinking skills and may reconnect you with the motivated, capable and optimistic person you used to be before COVID-19 upended the world.

Be kind…to others

To supercharge your well-being, practice kindness. Study after study attests to the power of caring for others. Acts of kindness to others give us a bigger well-being boost than acts of self-care. After all, we’re all in this together.

Published on February 23, 2022.

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