The COVID-19 pandemic has wreaked havoc on our lives and caused immense stress. We’ve been living in this state for nearly a year. When it first hit, we banded together and there was a sense of community. But after prolonged stress, COVID-19 fatigue may be setting in.
We’re tired of being uncertain, tired of being careful, tired of being isolated and tired of being scared. We’re worn out dealing with the pandemic, some of us more than others.
Recently, the FDA granted emergency use authorization for two COVID-19 vaccines. This gives us hope for an end to the pandemic. But the vaccine isn’t available to the general public just yet — it will go to those at highest risk first, like frontline healthcare workers and long-term care residents. It’s estimated the general public will be able to start receiving the vaccine in spring/summer 2021.
How can we cope until we are able to receive the vaccine? Try these tips to help boost your overall well-being as you wait:
- Take it day by day. Try not to look too far down the road and become overwhelmed with the big picture. You don’t need to have all the answers right now. Simplify daily goals into manageable ones. Remind yourself that you’re doing the best you can.
- Get up and move. Exercise is one of the best ways to cope and improve your well-being right now. Bundle up and head outside for a walk — even a short walk helps. Too cold outside? Try an online workout or dance class, yoga or stretching at home.
- Talk it out. Talk about your feelings with a trusted friend or family member. Staying connected to others will help you feel less isolated. Consider a professional counselor if needed.
- Practice gratitude. Gratitude can make you happier and connect with the goodness in the world. Write down 1-3 things that you’re grateful for each day. Send a text or email to let someone know that you appreciate them.
- Be mindful. Moments of quiet reflection can help release tension. Take deep breaths, step outside and feel the cool air and sun on your face, snuggle up with a cherished pet, or savor a warm drink. Try mindfulness meditation apps like Calm or Headspace.
- Have a good laugh. Laughter is good medicine and can be a crucial relaxation technique when you’re really stressed. Surround yourself with things you think are funny, such as photos or comics, or watch a funny movie or comedy show.
- Eat well and sleep well. A healthy diet and good sleep are vital to your well-being. Eat regular, well-balanced meals and try to go to bed and wake up around the same time each day. Strive for 8-10 hours of sleep a night.
- Help. Helping others can be good for your health. Check on neighbors and friends by calling, texting or writing a card. Donate food to the frontline workers at your local hospital – call first to find out what’s allowed, packaging requirements, etc. Donate grocery items to your local food pantry for community members in need.
- Find things to look forward to. This can boost your mood. Plan for a socially distanced walk with a friend, a night to watch your favorite movie or new TV series or a video Zoom call with friends. Avoid things that trigger stress for you, such as too much social media or news intake.
- Accept COVID-19 precautions. They aren’t going away anytime soon, even with a vaccine on the horizon. Make wearing a mask, washing your hands often and social distancing a normal part of your routine. It can help you better adapt to the situation.
In some cases, stress and anxiety can be overwhelming. Linden Oaks Behavioral Health has therapists who can help. Call 630-305-5027 for a free behavioral health assessment.
For updates on our planning and response efforts as we work to stop the spread of COVID-19, please check EEHealth.org/coronavirus.