Humans are living in unprecedented times characterized by lengthy-time indoors, alone, without face-to-face contact with other humans. What typically happens in unprecedented times in the human brain attempts to find the nearest amalgamation of recent events to cope with these changes. Unfortunately, few are built to live through a pandemic that is apparent in telehealth therapy sessions and grocery store aisles worldwide. There are some obvious mental health answers in times like these, and understanding a bit about the psychology of isolation fatigue can help you get through these trying times.
What is Isolation Fatigue?
According to the Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health system, isolation or pandemic fatigue occurs when humans become tired of the pandemic restrictions on society and become more likely to drown out the messages or less likely to follow public health practices. A normal sense of burnout can occur since society has had to stick to these measures for a prolonged time.
What Are the Symptoms?
The psychology of isolation fatigue impacts individuals differently but presents itself with the following symptoms:
- Change in eating and sleeping habits
- Difficulty concentrating
- Lacking motivation
- Socialization withdrawal
Who Does Isolation Fatigue Impact?
While isolation fatigue impacts all generations, it may be experienced more by young adults and youths who do not yet have as clearly defined social circles. Therefore, building romantic relationships and friendship networks is a critical focus at this life stage. Unlike younger siblings or their parents who accept sticking to their immediate social group, youths and young adults are often tempted to break the rules since their perception of the COVID-19 impact is low.
How to Cope with Isolation Fatigue?
If you suffer from isolation fatigue and are attempting to self-care in your home, the following are excellent tips to help you better handle this situation:
Limit News Intake
While it is important to remain updated on the latest COVID-19 information, too much news can overload your brain with negative emotions, thus sucking away your energy. Take a break from all news for a few days to see if you feel better. If that is too much, then start by limiting news consumption to one hour or less per day.
Meditate and Breathe
Meditation and breathing exercises are the best options for reducing stress and anxiety. Slowing your breathing tells your body there is no immediate threat, thus retracting the fight or flight response. Doing simple breathing exercises at least three times per day will help manage anxiety.
Monitor Social Media
Stop “doomscrolling” and limit the amount of time spent on all screens. Doomscrolling is purposely finding negative stories on social media or television to fuel uncertainty, anxiety, dread, and fatigue. The best method to combat this is to limit your social media by scheduling two 5-minute check-in sessions per day.
Reflect and Accept
Take the time to reflect on how you are doing physically, socially, and mentally. If you feel impatient, irritated, angry, or have fatigue, depression, or anxiety, accept these responses, and understand that it is normal during this challenging time.
Implementing “active self-care” through physical activity, exercise, or any connection between movement and meaning will help clear your mind, lower your stress, and replenish your energy. Find a balance between mental, social, and physical health. If you load up on going for runs but do not find a balance with mental and social health, you may not feel good after exercising.
Restore Your Energy
Remaining active will help restore your energy, but it is important to shut down and disconnect from bad news worldwide. That means setting up reminders to take breaks throughout the day. These breaks must be relaxing so take a bath, take a walk, or read a book. The point is to find a deliberately calming activity.
Following these tips, along with the occasional halftime speech, will motivate and keep you physically, socially, and mentally healthy. Remind yourself that you’ve come too far now to quit and despite being tired, don’t give in. Regroup, refuel, and re-energize to get back out the field of life, and play your best!