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How To Handle the Mental Exhaustion of COVID-19

It’s been more than a year since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis in the United States. The impact of COVID-19 has been felt all over the country, in some places much worse than others. Although the nation has felt some irreparable loss, there is light at the end of the tunnel. Nothing lasts forever, and there are brighter days ahead.

With the “pick-up/slow-down/pick-up” again style of the pandemic, many feel they’ve been running so long, they don’t know what to do anymore. This is where mental exhaustion or burnout sets in. According to a study published by the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, “burnout” is “a state of emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive and prolonged stress.” 

“Pandemic burnout” is unique because even though everyone has been affected differently, a pandemic is a massive shared experience for interconnected societies like ours. Even if you never left your home throughout the pandemic, the burnout from worry, fear, or dashed hopes of normalcy are real. Your feelings are valid, and you’re not going through them alone. Your community, the nation, and the world felt it, too.

The Current State of Mental Health

Of those surveyed in the study mentioned above, many people reported an increase in mental health concerns. Those who identify as female reported higher scores of depression and overall fatigue than those who identified as male. Anyone who identified as a working professional in their field reported drinking more. Respondents who live alone reported higher scores of mental health concerns than those who lived with others. Respondents who began any prescription medications during COVID-19 isolation scored higher in all mental health concerns as well. 

With these facts in mind, think about your own experience. If you are struggling, there are ways to help bring yourself out of that mental exhaustion. It’s okay not to be okay, even more than a year after the outbreak of COVID-19 began. 

How to Help Yourself Through Mental Exhaustion

The Department of Psychological Medicine in London conducted a study published in Lancet that examined how to reduce the psychological impact of isolation. Researchers suggest the following four tips to help lessen the blow of isolation:

  • Make mental breaks part of your routine. Whether through exercise, meditation, enjoying a meal, or using the bathroom without having a small child as an audience, make sure to take a break for yourself. Make this part of your routine even as the world slowly shifts back into a modified “normal” this spring and summer.
  • Keep up the hobbies that bring you joy. If you started a new hobby to help pass the time, maybe you found that you enjoyed it. Beating boredom is essential and keeps the mind healthy. Try picking those hobbies back up if they have fallen by the wayside, or find outdoor pursuits this spring and summer. Hobbies that are relaxing or use your brain are far better than succumbing to the emotional rollercoaster of TV news right now.
  • Look for the helpers. Especially when the pandemic began, we recognized helpers of the world. Medical staff, nursing home staff, teachers, transportation workers, law enforcement, and other essential workers were faced with COVID-related challenges and received tremendous community support. 

According to the Department of Psychological Medicine, altruism is better than compulsion when healing from a pandemic. Altruism is synonymous with selflessness, a trait that is often associated with people who help others out of the kindness of their hearts. Compulsion is when a person or entity is forced into helping rather than wanting to help. For example, those who wear a mask, isolate, and attempt to stop the spread of COVID-19 out of consideration for others’ health are considered altruistic, while those who do these things to follow laws or local ordinances feel forced by compulsion. 

Look for the helpers as a source of hope, kindness, compassion, and inspiration. As the country heals, think of ways that you can be a helper. It has been scientifically proven that committing acts of kindness generally improves mental health. Plus, there’s never anything wrong with being a positive force in your community!

Many feel intense anxiety and fear when they think of crowds gathering or being too close to others. Others are fearful of a changing world. That’s okay — your fears and worries are valid. However, with fear often comes stigma. Be careful about spreading misinformation about COVID-19 or perpetuating stigmas. Instead, show compassion while keeping yourself safe. Community support and understanding are what we need at this time.

If you’re struggling with the mental exhaustion of COVID-19, it’s okay to feel burnt out. Pandemic fatigue is real, and you are not alone in your struggle. Here at RECO Intensive, we know that the need for support is higher than ever, and we want to be a helper for you and your sobriety. Amid the constant crises and pains felt by COVID-19, we at RECO Intensive know that your pain is valid, and your recovery is vital. At RECO Intensive, our care is individualized to your personal needs. Our experienced alumni and professional staff can guide you through our myriad of services, all with the goal of leading you to recovery. RECO Intensive offers group therapy, individualized therapy, and even adventure therapy for the springtime weather coming our way. We also offer both inpatient and outpatient programs as a basis for our individualized care. Let’s get back to a brighter future. Call RECO Intensive at (561) 464-6533 today.

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