Protecting yourself from ‘pandemic fatigue’

The conversation on and the effect of pandemic fatigue has hit Trinidad and Tobago. 

Health officials are warning that if citizens aren’t careful to pay attention to the symptoms of pandemic fatigue, they could find themselves falling into old, dangerous habits rather than keeping up with the requirements of the new normal. 

Director of Mental Health, Dr Hazel Othello gave some insight on pandemic fatigue and what we can do to curb the temptation. 

“Pandemic fatigue basically refers to exhaustion from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on your life. In other words, you’re tired of it, you’re fed up of the restrictions, you’re fed up with the precautions, you just want your life to be back to what it was before all of this started,” she explained. 

Having an episode of pandemic fatigue is normal and widespread in areas hard hit by the lifestyle changes. With job markets, cost of living and family life all being modified, Dr Othello said it’s important to find ways to make sure people can stay the course to get caseloads down. 

“Keep your body healthy; try to get enough sleep, eat properly, eat nutritious meals, try to get regular exercise. Also, limit your exposure to news, sometimes it’s just too much and you just need to take a break from it,” she said. 

Long walks, gardening and breathing exercises also help. 

Symptoms of pandemic fatigue include sadness, anxiety, tiredness, feelings of hopelessness, bouts of anger toward pandemic related things and loss of interest. 

Dr Othello added that while it can be easy to judge, dismissing these feelings isn’t helpful. 

“We can’t tell people how to feel, we can’t be angry with them for feeling differently from the way other people feel and we certainly can’t legislate or prescribe people’s feelings,” she said. 

Dr Othello warned that physical distancing doesn’t mean social distancing. She said people are still allowed to communicate with loved ones over the phone or video chat to maintain a sense of community and togetherness. 

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