COVID-19 fatigue is real; suggestions on how to combat it

Posted at 11:55 AM, Jul 17, 2020

Are you tired? Tired of the lack of normalcy, the closed public spaces, the news that we are trending in the wrong direction with this pandemic?

COVID-19 fatigue is a real thing, and it’s affecting billions of people around the world.

“It’s a very uncomfortable experience for us as human beings to not have a plan and not know how is this going to turn out,” said Dr. Kaye Hermanson.

Hermanson is a clinical psychologist at UC Davis Health and compares the emotional fatigue to climbing a mountain. You have just spent hours hiking up, and just when you think you have hit the peak, you realize it is a false summit and see this daunting second hill in front of you.

That sinking feeling knowing you have done so much, yet still have so much longer to go, is what Hermanson says this second spike in COVID-19 numbers can feel like.

"We’re actually hoping for the absence of something,” said Hermanson. "Not getting sick isn’t quite as reinforcing as something that happens where we’re like, ‘Oh, I did this behavior and it resulted in this good outcome.'"

“[Fatigue] can be internal, where you feel like you’ve got these sandbags on your shoulders and you can’t take another step,” added Bob Ciampi.

Ciampi is a licensed clinical social worker and says the feeling is something a lot of us are familiar with: burnout. The same kind you might feel at work or at home when you are overwhelmed.

To ‘refill the tank,’ many people might go out for a night of fun with friends, or go to the gym, but COVID-19 has closed many of these places nationwide only exacerbating the issue.

So, it begs the question: what can we do?

“The things that we need to do are be aware of our thinking,” said Dr. Hermanson. "To say I’ll control what I can control. I’ll take it a minute at a time.”

“Some people call that bite-sized pieces,” added Ciampi.

Ciampi and Hermanson say the idea is to make things more manageable. Instead of looking at the daunting whole, they suggest breaking it up into more attainable parts.

Small victories can help give that reinforcement.

“It can be a little bit of learned helplessness,” she said. “It’s the idea that in certain circumstances where we feel like nothing we do is good enough, nothing that we do keeps bad things from happening, and so we kind of give up.”

Another thing Hermanson and Ciampi suggest is adjusting our mindset or going to therapy.

Hermanson says the simple knowledge that millions of other people feel just like us can be empowering and help push us through.