Fight Through COVID Quarantine Fatigue

As the nation pushes through another month of COVID-19 quarantine restrictions, many experts are concerned about the impact “quarantine fatigue” could have on our willingness to continue to be careful. In some ways, experts say we’re dealing with two separate health issues: the mental health impact of ongoing isolation, and the threat of a resurgence of COVID-19 cases as we grow weary of isolation and attempt to return too quickly to our regular routines.

First of all, experts say that fatigue is to be expected. “Quarantine fatigue … is entirely understandable,” says behavioral economist Syon Bhanot. “Staying home is stressful, boring and, for many, financially devastating.” But experts are quick to add that we can’t use that fatigue as an excuse to let our guard down. While indicators seem to be improving, many states are relaxing restrictions and many institutions are trying to return to pre-pandemic routines, we can’t become complacent.

“Even as some states lift their lockdown orders, public health experts warn that the coming weeks are the critical window for decreasing the number of new cases and starting to push this virus into retreat,” Bhanot wrote in the Washington Post.

So, how do we combat fatigue? By following some simple guidelines:

  • Remind yourself that, as much as daily life tries to return to “normal,” the virus is still out there. Nothing about the virus has changed, and we have no vaccine.
  • Find new ways to distract yourself. If you haven’t already started a new hobby or a new activity, now is the time. If you did, perhaps consider shifting gears to something new.
  • Make connections by reaching out to people through the phone, Zoom or other means.
  • If you do decide to go out, continue to wear a mask, wash your hands often and thoroughly, and follow the other precautions you did when the virus first appeared.
  • If you must go back to work, remain vigilant even in what might seem to be a controlled environment. Ask your employer about the precautions being followed: Is everyone required to wear masks, is social distancing expected, will you have all personal protective equipment you need, and what will happen if someone develops symptoms? Asking questions not only will allow you to know you’ll be safe, but they’ll also remind you of the things you need to be thinking about all of the time.

Generally, the key is to remain vigilant, even as you’re getting tired of all of the restrictions. Although many signs suggest the virus is subsiding, it is continuing to spread and, experts warn, if we let down our guard now, we might see a major resurgence in the months ahead.

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