COVID-19 has impacted us in a number of ways, but one of the most detrimental and possibly lasting effects is what it has on our brains.
With the constant worry of catching the virus, news articles popping up every day about symptoms and statistics and the effects it has on our daily lives like going shopping or being around other people, many people are experiencing "burnout" or "fatigue" from the pandemic life.
Dr. Wayne Pernell, PhD, Author and Executive Leadership Coach says someone experiencing overwhelm and burnt out can appear fatigued all the time, somewhat cranky, and have a loss of interest in work or home life.
"Feeling tired is a part of COVID fatigue, feeling like there's nothing beyond my computer is a part of COVID fatigue, feeling like there's one more takeaway and one more takeaway and that we're being, we're being oppressed and taking it personally is part of a COVID fatigue because no one's doing it to you. Right?"
Pernell says one thing to recognize in all of this is that while you may feel constricted and somewhat lost during all of this, you do have a choice.
"You have more power than you are probably letting yourself be aware of you choose how to schedule your day," Pernell explains. "You choose if you're going to be on a video conference line, or if your busy at that time and that's part of mental health. That's part of emotional health is scheduling time for yourself."
He gives the example of scheduling time for yourself to step away from the computer, allow yourself to go outside for a walk, even if its only for half an hour.
"A lot of things we can do for ourselves, so recognize that this isn't being done to you, that you have a lot more choice," he said. "And really the question that keeps asking yourself is what is my choice?"
What can you do to work around things? If you're wanting to go have a fancy dinner at a restaurant, can you do take out? Can you have outdoor dining?
The important thing is to break out of your routine, as Pernell says you need to be allowing your body to move and be active like it would be if the pandemic didn't exist.
"If you get into this routine where you get up and you sit down and you open your computer right away, and that's your life for the next 11 hours, partly because you're sedentary, you're just sitting, you're not allowing your body to do what it's supposed to do," he explains.
Pernell says there's three things you need to recognize about yourself that each one of us has: resilience, courage and choices.
"Those three things will actually make a huge difference, if you just write those down. I have resilience. I have courage. I have a choice. Knowing those changes, the way you engage in the world, also recognize that there are a few things that you actually like about your new schedule."
In terms of making these coronavirus tips safer and easier to follow, Psychologist Carisa Parrish with Johns Hopkins Medicine says there are several ways to help make these changes to our lives a little bit easier.
Some of those include committing to things like washing our hands more often, maintaining physical distance and wearing a mask. Others include staying flexible as recommendations change, practicing precautions as if they're second nature and always being prepared with the necessary supplies.
The CDC says that coping with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about and your community stronger and that there's ways to take care of yourself, by focusing on your own mental and emotional health.
This includes allowing yourself time to unwind as Pernell stated, connecting with others in the community in a safe way and seeking help if needed.
Everyone handles stress, anxiety and depression in different ways, but here are a few resources provided by the CDC if you're in need of assistance.
- How Right Now
- Coping with a Disaster or Traumatic Event
- HHS ASPR TRACIE COVID-19 Behavioral Health
- Coronavirus Tax Relief and Economic Impact
- Coping with Stress During an Infectious Disease Outbreak pdf
- Taking Care of Your Behavioral Health during an Infectious Disease Outbreak pdf
For Families and Children
- Helping Children Cope during an COVID-19 Outbreak
- Helping Children Cope with Emergencies
- Coping After a Disaster pdf – A Ready Wrigley activity book for children age 3-10
- Teen Depression
For more information on Pernell, including a free copy of his bestselling book, The Significance Factor, click here.