Coping with Covid Fatigue: Allow yourself a break from the struggle, Westport nurse recommends

By Bruce Burdett
Posted 11/29/20

WESTPORT — We’re all feeling “done with it” where COVID-19 is concerned about now, “but the reality is that COVID-19 is here and we have to deal with it.”

It is …

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Coping with Covid Fatigue: Allow yourself a break from the struggle, Westport nurse recommends

Posted

WESTPORT — We’re all feeling “done with it” where COVID-19 is concerned about now, “but the reality is that COVID-19 is here and we have to deal with it.”

It is how we handle it that can make all the difference to ourselves and those around us, Westport Board of Health member Donna Amaral, a clinical nurse specialist in mental health, told the Board of Selectmen at their meeting last Monday.

In a well-timed message — the board had just finished listening to the town’s latest grim COVID statistics, Ms. Amaral took time to speak about COVID-19 Fatigue — “a real thing,” she said, and odds are that most of us are experiencing it one way or another.

Not only is this fatigue real, she said, but many experts are convinced that it is among the main reasons behind the pandemic’s resurgence. For some, one reaction is not following guidelines that can seem tiresome and never-ending.

Pandemic fatigue is a physical and mental exhaustion brought on by hyper vigilance, constant change and uncertainty. “We are, in a way, in survival mode — we have been dealing with this threat for eight months.”

Symptoms include fear, anxiety and anger and, “if not managed well, these can turn into clinical depression and rage episodes.”

“There are issues of control and power involved. If you struggle with things that you can’t control, that becomes a problem.”

She said it beings to mind the Serenity Prayer — God grant me the Serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things that I can, and Wisdom to know the difference.

This fatigue can be powerful but there are ways to cope, Ms. Amaral said.

• Remember that you are not alone — everyone is experiencing the strain.

• Connect with others, virtually is fine, often the only way — loneliness is big part of the problem.

• Don’t dwell on negative thoughts and feelings. Yes, I feel anger, grief and deprived sometimes, but try to end those feelings with a positive thought.

• Find the time to laugh and have fun.

• Foster habits that are healthy for mind, body and spirit. That latter (spirit) is most often ignored. By that she said she does not necessarily mean religion, rather anything activity or thought that nurtures a sense of peace, of joy, of feeling connected.

• Take a break, even a brief one, from hyper vigilance “to focus on something mindless — I clean,” but it can be music, something funny or silly on TV — anything.

• Those with children need to remember that how we role model taking care of ourselves helps our children learn to take care of themselves. Families can schedule weekly meetings to talk over concerns, plans, highlights— it’s a way to learn how to move forward.

• And if you are able, find a way to reach out and help others; doing so will actually help you re-energize yourself.

And finally — “don’t struggle so much with the reality of our circumstances.”

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