Emotional Fatigue through the Pandemic

Simone Koger, MA, LMFTA, CGP

2022-01-05

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We are almost to the second anniversary of when the pandemic began. Two years- we have been adapting, grieving, changing, hurting, trying to cling to some forms of normalcy to get through this trying time.

This Pandemic is Now a Marathon. And we are only on mile 2.

I reflect a lot on shows I see where people just like me said in early March of 2019, "it will be fine, this will blow over and we will be back to commuting in to work by the end of the month." How wrong did we all end up being. The pandemic has changed, and we are still holding a lot of losses and stress from its continued prolonging. We still wear masks inside, there are several schools that are shutting down again, family members are taking opposing sides on what is and isn't safe- there is a lot of battles that are still happening as we start 2022.

In this time, it is important to remember that small changes lead to big successes. If you are feeling emotional fatigue from being at home, I'm right there with you! It is hard to be at home all the time for some of us. What helps you feel less confined? Maybe a tv show, an article about space, some form of creative art, or a virtual yoga class, a FaceTime date, it is all relevant while trying to stay mentally supported right now. We are not creatures of utter aloneness, that is not how we as humans are designed to be.

There aren't any full answers on how to deal with emotional fatigue from the pandemic because it is very different person to person. Even if two people are in the same home, they will probably have different ways of handling stress. Healthy forms of stress reduction are essential to this marathon we are facing.

Options for healthy stress reduction during the pandemic:

1. Reading a book

2. Talking to a friend

3. Moving your body

4. Eating well

5. Getting sleep, (even if you know you don't need to wake up until 5 minutes before your first meeting).

6. Creative expression

7. Validating your emotions & grief around the pandemic. We all hold grief over lost moments, loss of control, loss of connection, and many other things that have been lost from this pandemic.

8. Setting healthy boundaries with yourself, loved ones, and work.

9. Mindfulness exercises (Breathing, Yoga, 5 minutes of Stretching, reflection journaling)

Now it's your turn, What is one we haven't shared that works well for you?

Even reading some of these seem like a mountain to climb when we are not feeling emotionally ready. Which is why I am not totally shredded, eating fruit smoothies every day, with perfect skin and a perfectly organized life- if our mental health is being constantly shifted because of the pandemic stressors, we cannot DO IT ALL. There is no reason to try to do everything well just because you are now home more often. The focus needs to be on doing SOMETHING.

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We can't do this alone.

One very important key ingredient I have yet to bring up is in order to get through this pandemic we all need support. In a longitudinal study done by Klootwijk, Koele, van Hoorn, Güroğlu, and van Duijvenvoorde (2021) on teenagers success in school during the pandemic found that, "when assessing changes over time (i.e., day of assessment), we observed that over the course of our daily diary study levels of social support from parents and friends increased, while levels of negative mood, including anxiety, depression, and anger, decreased over time." Support from people closest to us is another essential piece of our ability to get through this.

If you live alone, you might need to work harder at staying in constant connection to your loved ones and peers. Think about keeping reminders to check in. Enroll in virtual classes where you have to show your face such as Dance Church, a book club, or a local virtual workout group. Talk to a therapist or mentor on a weekly or monthly schedule to keep yourself accountable.

If your family is experiencing (nonviolent) conflict at home due to the stressors of the pandemic, talk to a family counselor. In order to get through this, collaboration and support needs to be addressed. If you are all constantly avoiding each other, fighting, misunderstanding each other- get outside support. This is what we are trained to do.

These are just a few examples of how to step towards developing a more supportive and wellness based environment in order to keep yourself emotionally supported through this pandemic. There is no guarantee when it will end. If you are still searching for support, and this pandemic continues on- look for our group counseling option in Summer 22 for Life through the Pandemic.

Stay Safe & Well.

Information regarding COVID-19 & Vaccinations: Tacoma Pierce County Health Department