pandemic fatigue

Pandemic fatigue is real and here's what Canadians can do about it

Remember the days when you could walk into a grocery store without bathing your hands in sanitizer? Or hug a stranger? Or go to a nightclub packed with people on a Friday night?

Ah, to be blissfully ignorant in 2019.

If you wake up most days and think to yourself, "I just want all of this to be over," then you're suffering from a common condition known as pandemic fatigue — and you're not alone.

What is pandemic fatigue?

Pandemic fatigue is a term that psychologists are using to describe stress, anxiety, depression or other mental health concerns related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

More generally, it can also refer to the realization that we're six months into the pandemic — and there's no end in sight.

How do I know if I have it?

According to UCLA Health, the most obvious sign of pandemic fatigue is a "sign of inner weariness."

You may also feel:

  • Helpless
  • Sad
  • Worried
  • Frustrated
  • Irritable

Other symptoms of pandemic fatigue include experiencing a sudden loss or increase in appetite, changes in your sleeping pattern, brain fog or a lack of motivation.

How common is pandemic fatigue?

It turns out that pandemic fatigue is actually more common than you would think, according to Dr. Deb Dobson, a Registered Psychologist and Adjunct Professor at the University of Calgary.

"I certainly think we are seeing pandemic fatigue," Dobson told Freshdaily, noting that there's a "pattern" of stress and anxiety in her clients' responses to the pandemic.

And Dobson's anecdotal experience is backed up with data; in fact, a new study from Deloitte suggests Canadians, especially women, will face an increase in mental illness for years to come.

The study estimates that 6.3 million to 10.7 million Canadians will visit a doctor for mental health issues, which is a staggering 54 to 163 per cent higher than pre-pandemic levels.

What can I do about it?

According to Dobson, maintaining a regular routine and some form of structure in your day-to-day life is key to overcoming pandemic-related stress and anxiety.

"Time feels slow to a lot of people," Dobson said. "If one is working from home, take time off on the weekends. Try to keep as much of a semblance of normality as you can."

That means changing out of your pyjamas in the morning, getting adequate sleep, stretching your legs by taking a walk outside, and not ordering pizza on SkipTheDishes every night.

Dobson also says that it's important to monitor your thoughts; if you're regularly listening to the news and you find that your thoughts are taking a negative turn, take a break.

"It's important to remain hopeful," she said.

On that note, it's a good idea to look to the future by setting goals — whether that's cleaning out your garage, taking an online class to learn a new skill, or planning a socially-distanced picnic with friends.

Dobson added that it's normal to feel anxious as provinces begin to reopen restaurants, schools and other services, but it's important to put yourself out there.

"We have to keep a balance," she said. "We have to take it one step at a time and weigh the risk with being safe."

Lead photo by

Tom R

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