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Experts share tips on managing COVID-19 fatigue

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MADISON (WKOW) — The feeling of stress and exhaustion from worrying about the pandemic can lead to something called “COVID Fatigue.”

“If you are experiencing exhaustion or feeling defeated or burned out, you are not alone,” said UW psychologist Shilagh Mirgain.

COVID Fatigue refers to the overall sense of exhaustion from the multitude of challenges people are facing during the pandemic.

Health care providers report an increase in people engaging in risky behavior that can spread the virus because they feel defeated and burned out. Patients have also reported higher levels of depression, anxiety and alcohol and drug dependency as the pandemic goes on.

Dr. Mirgain shares tips and behavioral changes to help reduce COVID Fatigue and to better manage the uncertainty of these times. The following are the four main areas of COVID Fatigue and some coping mechanisms for each one:

  • Change fatigue and uncertainty burnout  
    • Radical acceptance that life will continue to be difficult for a while. 
    • Find the silver lining. 
    • Look for activities new and old that continue to fulfill you and bring you joy. 
  • Depleted surge capacity: 
    • “Take 5” mindfulness practice to recharge.
    • Expect less from yourself – cut yourself some slack and give yourself some grace.
  • Zoom burnout
    • 20-20-20 rule (For every 20 minutes spent looking at a screen, look away from the screen and focus on a spot 20 feet away for 20 seconds).
    • Consider getting blue light blocking glasses.
    • Use transitions well (getting up and walking for two minutes every hour can help reverse the negative health effects from prolonged sitting. Also consider other formats for meetings, such as a telephone call or shorter meeting where you do some of the work by e-mail).
    • Choose to move: make physical activity a priority.
  • “Doom scrolling,” or staying glued to electronic devices to find out information on the disasters and stressors that face our country.
    • Limit how much social media you are exposed to.
    • Be mindful of the type of news you are consuming.
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