Everything you read has an air of COVID-19 to it. Every conversation you have is tinted with the same. Our day-to-day lives are an ever-present reminder of the pandemic we are living through, and each day new stories about it come to light.
While it’s important to be properly informed and it’s essential we all continue to do our part to curb the spread of the virus, it is very easy to find ourselves suffering from COVID-19 information fatigue.
What Is COVID-19 information fatigue?
Fatigue is a physical symptom associated with the virus, but it’s also something that is presenting itself in the lives of healthy individuals in and out of lockdown. Fatigue is tiredness and exhaustion, and in this instance, it is in response to the overload of COVID-19 information facing us. In addition to that, we have to make important decisions about our livelihood on a daily basis:
• We have to make decisions about normal daily activities:
• Should we visit our parents to deliver food?
• Do we really need to go to the shops?
• When we leave the house, we need to remember to take along our masks. If we don’t, we cannot be out in public
• When we see someone we know we have to remember not to touch them, shake their hands, or hug them
• We have to consider whether it’s safe to send our kids to school.
The build-up of all these questions, information overload, and uncertainties, is causing physical fatigue in healthy individuals. Some symptoms that can come about as a result of this fatigue include:
• Being highly irritable
• Feeling stressed and anxious
• Eating more, less, or unhealthily
• Being unable to sleep
• Feeling demotivated or less productive
• Constantly feeling on edge and being unable to relax
How do we counteract COVID-19 fatigue with a positive outlook?
We have to remind ourselves that what we are currently experiencing is unique, so it’s okay if we don’t know how to react to it. But if you identify with any of the above, perhaps you too are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue. Acknowledging that there’s an issue is a huge part of overcoming it. You can also try the following to relieve some of the pressure you are feeling:
• Limit the time you spend online. Even if you are searching for COVID-19 related information, you are bound to come across it via social media or news reports
• Give yourself some time to unwind. If you are a parent, take turns with your partner to have time out from your daily responsibilities. Use this time to take a long bath, get outside, meditate, or spend some quiet time with yourself
• Exercise. Sometimes the best way to change your perspective is to sweat it out. Take a long walk or run, ride your bike, do an online workout, or simply put on some music and dance
• Get out in nature. Hiking trails have opened up all over the country and offer the perfect opportunity for a break away from your day-to-day stresses
• Journal. Writing down how you feel can be a good way to purge those emotions. Let what you feel pour from yourself onto the paper and then try to find ways to turn the negative feelings into something positive. For example:
o “I am experiencing information overload” can be turned into “I am grateful to have access to information”
o “I am exhausted from hearing about COVID-19” can be turned into “I am fortunate to only hear about COVID-19 and not to have to experience it as an illness that I need to overcome”
o “I am so tired” can be turned into “I am tired, I must rest, and tomorrow I will try again”
If you are in need of support, counselling or any advice relating to COVID-19, please consult our Fedhealth Crisis Control Centre on 0860 111 646.
Resources: https://time.com/; https://health.clevelandclinic.org/
Important contact numbers
Fedhealth Customer Contact Centre: Monday to Thursday 08h30 – 17h00; Friday 09h00 – 17h00.
Call 0860 002 153 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Emotional Wellbeing Programme: 087 365 8664 and the new Crisis Support Desk: 0860 111 646 Fedhealth Nurse Line and Emergency Medical Services: 0860 333 432 Paed-IQ: 0860 444 128 and SOS Call Me: *130*3272*31# Press 1. Emergency Medical Services; 2. Nurse Line; 3. MediTaxi
Visit the Coronavirus Hub on the Fedhealth website: https://fedhealth.co.za/media/2338/fedhealth-coronavirus-faqs-document.pdf or use the COVID-19 Chatbot (go to LiveChat on fedhealth.co.za to select). You can also use the WhatsApp service (click on https://wa.me/27600702479 from your mobile device) for assistance.
Important COVID-19 resources
COVID-19 online resource and news portal: https://sacoronavirus.co.za/
The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD): https://www.nicd.ac.za/