The next few weeks will be a difficult for all of us – especially families. We may all be having Covid fatigue at some point.
For many, the new lockdown will add extra strain: whether it’s changes in our work-life balance, losing access to support networks outside of your bubble, or dealing with job insecurity. Strains like these can all impact your mental health, so it’s important to know ways you can help yourself.
Whilst it’s normal for emotions to be heightened during these uncertain times, if you’re feeling anxious, exhausted or depressed and it’s impacting your day-to-day life, you may be experiencing pandemic fatigue.
Prioritising your mental health has never been more important than it is now; we’ve recently spoke with Dr Luke James – Medical Director for Bupa UK Insurance – about how to manage Covid fatigue as a parent.
1. What is pandemic fatigue?
It’s completely understandable to feel tired from living through the pandemic, but if you’re feeling more exhausted than usual, hopeless, stressed or anxious (especially over the course of a few weeks), you may be experiencing Covid fatigue.
Try to remember that there’s no ‘normal’ response to a pandemic, and whilst your feelings may change from one day to the next, there’s lots of support available. If you’re struggling with your mental health, you should speak to a healthcare professional about how you’re feeling, as they’ll be able to help.
There are also a few self-help tips to help you manage any stress or fatigue you’re experiencing.
2. Make time for yourself
As a parent, it’s normal to want to put others first – but it’s really important that you’re looking after yourself too.
Whilst time alone may be limited, if you’re feeling fatigued it’s important to prioritise time to relax.
Activities like reading a book, heading outdoors for a walk or mindfulness can leave your mind and body feeling relaxed. Regularly practicing mindfulness – where you give full attention to the present moment – can also help you manage any stress, worry or anxiety.
Relaxation doesn’t have to take up too much of your time; often if you’re stepping away from something stressful for just a few minutes can help you to feel calmer.
3. Look after your health
Parents may find that their own health falls to the bottom of the priority list. Whilst it’s easier said than done, getting the basics right – like enough sleep – helps us to recover from mental as well as physical exertion.
Having a relaxing bedtime routine (such as a hot bath before bed, switching off our digital devices and reading a book) can leave you feeling relaxed before you drift off.
What we eat and drink can affect our mood, too. Make sure your diet is balanced and full of fresh fruit and vegetables.
Whilst you may not always feel up to it, making time for some exercise is important for both your physical and mental health. Even ten minutes of exercise can help reduce your stress levels, help you to feel relaxed and boost your confidence.
Why not keep it simple and head outdoors for a brisk walk? Studies have shown that a walk outside with nature can help you feel more calm, reducing feelings of worriedness and allowing your time to take perspective.
4. Set yourself realistic goals
Breaking your day up can help make everything seem a little more manageable. If you’re finding it difficult to concentrate or if you’re feeling fatigued, set small achievable targets for yourself, such as cooking a nice meal for your family, or watching that film you’ve been meaning to see.
Be realistic with your goals and don’t put too much pressure on yourself if you don’t achieve them all. Be conscious about your inner voice and its tone – be kind to yourself – as this can help you pick yourself more effectively up if things go wrong.
5. Manage your news consumption
If what you are reading or listening to is making you feel overwhelmed try to turn it off, focus on something else or go for a walk to clear your head.
Be careful about where you find your news too; Facebook, Twitter and forwarded social media messages are often misleading and incorrect sources, which can further fuel anxiety. Try to stick to reputable, trusted news sources instead.
6. Practice self-compassion
There’s a lot beyond our control right now, and that can be difficult to accept. Practicing acceptance and self-compassion may help to let go of the stresses you can’t control, and free up energy and space in your mind.
We often find that people who practise gratitude and notice the things they are thankful for are happier and have a greater sense of wellbeing. A good activity to try as a family is to share three things you’re all grateful for at the end of the day.
7. Seek support
If you’re feeling low, hopeless or stressed and it’s impacting your daily life, it’s important to speak to your GP as they’ll be able to help. There’s lots of free resources available; a quick search online pulls up local support groups and self-help tips on who to contact to get the support you need.
Dr Luke James, Medical Director for Bupa UK Insurance.