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Battling 'COVID fatigue' and keeping a healthy mind

Posted at 5:56 AM, Jan 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-13 07:56:54-05

After 10 months of facing COVID-19 restrictions, changes and unknowns, a recent federal survey revealed half of U.S. adults are struggling with their mental health or substance abuse. Experts say teens and young adults are especially impacted by missing out on sports and social activities during critical developmental years.

“What I’m seeing over and over again is people just feel so weighted down,” Valley licensed clinical social worker Michael Klinkner told ABC15. He said, referencing mask and social distancing requirements and a shift to remote work and schooling, people are “just so tired of having to do that stuff over and over again.”

Much of the so-called “COVID fatigue” comes down to “decision fatigue,” he said, with people having to make choices about seemingly ordinary things they now feel carry substantial weight.

“For people at work… Are they going into work? Are they staying home? If their boss decides that they have to go into work, [how] do they feel about that? What happens there? If you’re a parent, do you keep your kid home? Do you send them in?”

Among his clients, Klinkner said he’s seen a rise in drinking, drug abuse, impulsive spending, and gambling. His advice to keep a healthy mind?

  • Make sure you’re exercising daily (even a 30-minute walk)
  • Find time to talk with friends and loved ones
  • Watch your drinking and keep potentially addictive activities, like video games and social media, in check
  • Focus on something in your life that you can control, like achieving a new goal

“This is the time to get back on there,” he said, “whether it’s the ‘lose 20 pounds’ or get back to that hobby.”

He encourages everyone to check in on friends and loved ones, and monitor for changes in anger or irritability, sleep, and eating patterns. Big changes could be a sign to seek professional help, he said.

“If you’re seeing those going on for you or somebody that you know and care about, reach out for help so you don’t have those lingering long-term effects.”

Many therapists and clinicians are now offering virtual appointments with no out-of-pocket costs to insured patients.