Overcoming ‘COVID Fatigue’

February 10, 2021

At times, the pandemic can deplete your motivation and take your stress levels to the top-notch, leaving you struggling to keep up with school and missing pre-pandemic times.

However, you are not alone as people all across the world face the obstacles of what mental health experts have named “COVID fatigue.”

More and more people have been seeking mental health consultations as COVID fatigue takes its toll on the everyday life of millions of Americans.

This leads us to wonder why COVID fatigue is affecting people so critically

Professor of family medicine and community health Christine Runyan explains how mental health and healthy lifestyles go hand-in-hand in UMASSMedNews.

“So much of 2020 [was] filled with uncertainty, and our brains do not like uncertainty,” said Runyan.And that can result in a downward spiral mode of motivation, energy and ultimately you’re creating the conditions within the nervous system that are very ripe for depression.”

It’s beyond important that everyone takes care of both their mental and physical health because they have such an immense impact on one another. 

For instance, if your mental health is strained, then you are likely to face physical health symptoms as well such as migraines or low energy.

The pandemic has led a myriad of students to having distorted sleep schedules where they are getting either far more sleep than they need, or far too little.

Sophomore Nancy Phillips has been feeling the full effects of COVID fatigue, and she certainly hasn’t been the only student lacking adequate rest.

“During the pandemic, my sleep schedule has been horrendous,” said Phillips. “In the first few months, I went to bed around 5 a.m. and getting four hours of sleep was lucky. I go to bed around 2 a.m. now, but I haven’t gotten a healthy eight hours of sleep probably since last school year.”

Although sleep is a major part of a healthy lifestyle, other symptoms of COVID fatigue can be avoided in a plethora of different ways.

If you are lacking motivation, gifted support teacher Kate Newland has a few tips for you to regain that energy.

“You need to have a plan each day to stay focused on completing your school work and build time in your day for fun things too,” said Newland. “It’s important to do things each day that make you smile whether that’s chatting with a friend or dancing to your favorite song. Speaking of dancing, make sure you get your exercise and go outside when you can. It makes you feel good thanks to those wonderful endorphins.”

School counselor Matthew Shervington agrees that students need to make time to break what he has referred to as the “COVID cycle.”

For students, feeling as if social distancing requirements have restricted them to doing the same thing repeatedly and focusing almost only on school can make the days feel like they’re running together and/or that they’re doing the same things over-and-over. This certainly has an impact on people’s mental health, so it’s important that people find a diverse range of coping skills and activities that they can mix up to break up the monotony. ”

— Matthew Shervington

Newland also reminds students that teachers are available to assist them and that they don’t have to face challenges alone.

“…remember to ask for help when you aren’t sure how to complete an assignment or talk to someone when you are having a bad day,” said Newland. “It’s important to connect.”

There are many advantages within the school building that can also aid you in shutting down the traces of COVID fatigue that you may be feeling including school counselors.

Aevidum also published a newsletter that highlights activities and resources that students can utilize as well as the importance of mental health through anonymous student accounts.

Aevidum publishes its first newsletter. Image by SHS Aevidum

Adviser of Aevidum Andrew Warren encourages students to stay connected with each other.

“Staying connected with your friends and teachers even while not physically in school can also improve your well-being,” said Warren. “This restless desire to return to normalcy and the accompanying sense of uncertainty can contribute to anxiety [and] if you’re struggling, it’s important to reach out to someone. As an Aevidum adviser, I feel it’s important to communicate to students that they are not alone.”

COVID fatigue is very real, but also avoidable. To overcome it, everyone needs to support each other and understand that mental health is important.

“Remember that you have people in your life that care about you and want to see you succeed,” said Newland. “This pandemic will at some point end [and] it’s certainly not too late to make the choice to improve. Your future self will thank you!”

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