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Pandemic Fatigue… A new battlefront

A year into the Covid-19 pandemic, I honestly thought the situation would get better. Boy, am I wrong!

As the rate of infection in Malaysia as well as globally continue to rise, I find myself getting increasingly tired of life we’re leading, even feeling like there’s nothing much to life?

The Health DG, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, recently threw a new term at us – pandemic fatigue – as he cautioned us of this phenomena.

Remember the term, flatten the curve, that was oft on his lips and everyone else’s after it was introduced to us a year ago with the onset of the pandemic? That and many other news terms like new norm has now been replaced by pandemic fatigue?

What exactly does it mean? The World Health Organization (WHO) defined pandemic fatigue “as demotivation to follow recommended protective behaviours, emerging gradually over time and affected by a number of emotions, experiences and perceptions”.

It went on to emphasise that “the severity and scale of the Covid-19 pandemic have called for the implementation of invasive measures with unprecedented impacts on the daily lives of everyone, including those who have not been directly affected by the virus itself”.[1]

My understanding is that this expected and natural response to a prolonged public health crisis” is not confined to simply, exhaustion. It can extend to losing interest and motivation in daily tasks.

All said, life in the pandemic is a weird one. One minute you’re working from home, and the next, you’re back in office working, and the next...? This requires a lot of mental and physical effort and strength!

Juggling and coping and, on top of this, adjusting and adapting to Movement Control Standard Operating Procedures that can be unclear and also borders on absurdity, can easily propel one on a downward spiral of depression.

How to overcome pandemic fatigue? WHO recommended four key strategies for governments to reinvigorate public support for protective behaviours, namely 1) understand people, 2) engage people as part of the solution 3) allow people to live their lives but reduce risk, and 4) acknowledge and address the hardship people experience.

But, drilling down to us an individuals, what can we do to help ourselves? I culled information from various sources and put it down to 3 Essential Steps which I would like to share with you:

1. Adjust expectations

With further movement restrictions and more and more subjected to going into quarantines, one thing we may have aplenty is free time and void to fill, but another that we may not have or the luxury to have is to accomplish aplenty too.

With such expectations come disappointment. Our mind is the forerunner of everything and knowing that we ourselves can be our greatest enemy, the best thing to do under the circumstances is to better handle our expectations. Trim expectations. Fat hopes have slim chance of being realised.

2. Set boundaries

When we’ve been locked in a space with the same people for extended period of time, tension easily arise. That is why, boundaries should always be set. Make it a point to always have some ME TIME!

3. Self-care is very, very important

It is very important to take care not only of our health but also our mental well-being. Avoid being glued to socmed, binge watch K-drama, scrolling through 2,000 videos on TikToks that lead to only having a few hours asleep. Sleep well. Insufficient sleep affects one’s mood and health. Eat well and have good doses of exercise too.

Easier said than done. But we gotta do what we gotta do. Importantly, we need to set ourselves right for to fight this fatigue.

Put our mind to it and anything is possible!

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