A full year has passed, and the pandemic continues to impact everyday activities. Wearing a mask, social distancing, and virtual game nights and gatherings have become the norm and although vaccine efforts are providing a glimmer of hope, COVID-19 continues to be pervasive in our day-to-day lives. This can be overwhelming and exhausting and can lead to what some are calling “COVID fatigue.”
“I’m hearing from a lot of people who are exhausted, and feeling overstretched, but they don’t feel they can take time out from work to see a therapist, or take a vacation, because work is already short-staffed,” said Susan Scott, APRN, PMHNP, with Intermountain Healthcare’s Connect Care Behavioral Health service. “We have been through—and are going through—a very difficult time. COVID has hit us hard in multiple ways.” There’s help, please don’t delay getting help for depression or anxiety when you need it,” she added.
There are things we can – and should – do to overcome COVID fatigue and prioritize our mental health.
- Get enough sleep. Establishing a dependable bedtime routine isn’t just for toddlers. Sleep impacts our health on every level. You can start making small changes that will greatly improve your sleep patterns. To start, wake up around the same time each morning and go to bed around the same time each night.
- Exercise. Exercising and moving your body every day can reduce stress, fatigue, and tension. Exercise can also improve your mood and help strengthen your immune system.
- Eat a healthy diet. It’s easy to reach for extra salty, extra sugary, processed foods when you are overwhelmed, tired, and stressed. However, do your best to eat a balanced diet of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins. Fueling your body with healthy food will not only help you feel better physically but will also help improve your overall mood.
- Practice mindfulness. Practicing mindfulness is a great way to help manage stress and anxiety. Mindfulness is a type of meditation focused on slowing down and creating awareness in the present moment. This can relax your body and mind, no matter what stressors you currently face. Intermountain currently offers free and convenient online meditation and mindfulness classes.
- Get outside. Spending time outside every day can greatly reduce your stress levels. Not only will you get a solid dose of vitamin D by soaking up some sun (no matter the season!), but spending time outside has also been shown to strengthen your immune system and improve your overall mood.
- Ask for help. These are unprecedented times, and it’s okay to ask for help. Reach out to friends and family if you need a bit of extra support. This will not only help you manage your own anxiety but could also give your loved ones a place to share similar experiences.
- Intermountain’s Connect Care Behavioral Health service is a great option for accessing treatment for to mild-to-moderate mental health conditions. Connect Care offers extended hours and the ability to meet with a provider anywhere through video technology with extended hours and appointments available as soon as same day.
- Intermountain’s Behavioral Health Navigation Service is available for anyone in need of free emotional support, self-care tools, treatment options, crisis services, and more at 883-442-2211 from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week.
It’s easy to feel out of control amid a public health crisis. Masking and social distancing requirements can make us feel like we have no control whatsoever. However, these behaviors – although at times disruptive and inconvenient – have been scientifically proven to help control and slow the spread of COVID-19.
Every single one of us can help decrease the number of cases, which will, in turn, help life return to normal. And, in addition to helping slow the spread, there are other things we can do to help ourselves find a sense of control in our day-to-day lives. Whether you’re looking to improve your bedtime routine or start a new exercise program, focusing on the things you can control in your own life can have a positive impact.