As we pass almost 16 months since the start of the first lockdown many people will be struggling with symptoms of pandemic fatigue. Pandemic fatigue is essentially exhaustion caused by months on months of pandemic related stress. Older people are also more at risk of having health complications if they contract COVID-19 as well as suffering more from mental health issues due to the above average levels of isolation and not being able to see family and friends (although this has begun to return to normal). Those suffering from pandemic fatigue will have heightened feelings of fear, anxiety and loneliness and may be quicker to become upset or angry, the mental exhaustion plays a big part of this.
To help reduce the symptoms of pandemic fatigue here are a few tips to aid with that:
Managing stress levels via reading, yoga, breathing techniques and exercise are all effective and will have a positive impact on your mental and physical well-being. It can provide a way to clear your mind, think about how you currently feel and can help understand why you may be angry, frustrated on concerned about the current state of things. Knowing how or why you feel a certain way will make it easier to reach out to family, friends or a professional to discuss your mental well-being. Not only can reaching out to family and friends help reduce negative thoughts by talking it through with them, it can also encourage positive thought as you can discuss future plans and have something to look forward to.
Develop more healthy habits:
If the body already feels fatigue it is a lot easier for the mind to slip into a similar state. Developing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle will greatly strengthen the body's immune system and better your mental well-being in the process. Simple ways to start adjusting your lifestyle can be ensuring the recommended daily amount of water and vitamins are being consumed and that the food you eat is well balanced and not full of sugars and unhealthy fats. More difficult changes can be stopping smoking and completely overhauling your diet, they may be difficult but are worthwhile doing if you want a challenge and see even more significant changes.
Better your sleep:
One more habit that can have a dramatic change on your immune system and overall health is focusing on improving your sleep. In later life, getting a consistent night’s sleep can become more challenging. This may be due to more day time naps, becoming tired earlier on in the day, waking up in the middle of the night and not being able to fall back asleep again or developing sleep hindering issues such as insomnia. Struggling to get a regular night’s sleep can impact on energy levels which can lead to further health issues.
There are a variety of different actions that can be done to help improve sleep regularity and quality which can make a big difference to the quality of life of poor sleep sufferers.
Creating a routine:
The body's circadian rhythm (the internal process of regulating the body's sleep-wake cycle) is very sensitive and creating a routine will train the body to release sleep inducing chemicals such as serotonin at a certain time every night. This will help regulate the time at which you being to feel tired. Going to sleep at different times multiple times a week will throw the system out of sync and will make it harder to fall asleep.
Exert more energy:
Exercising during the day and working out the muscles will help burn through additional energy the body may have stored. Walking, cycling or dance classes are all accessible activities and will burn through a good amount of calories. Exercising will also give you something to-do during the day and can make the day go by quicker and reduce the likelihood of napping.
Remove distractions from the bedroom:
This step is linked to getting into a routine and can make a large difference in sleep quality. Firstly, are you comfortable in the bed? If not consider changing mattress and getting new pillows. An uncomfortable mattress will make it very difficult to relax and fall asleep. Secondly, around an hour before getting into bed, begin the winding down process. Stop looking at so many artificial screens such as the TV or a tablet and set the room for a cool temperature as this promotes better sleep.
Reduce fluid intake in the evening:
Try to get the majority of daily fluids in the system during the morning and afternoon. Work out what time is a suitable cut off for yourself, start around 7pm and adjust from there. Take a few sips before bed just to stay hydrated through the night. This can help reduce the amount of times that you need to go to the bathroom during the night and helps increase the chances of sleeping the full night.
Encourage a sense of calm:
Do something that relaxes you as the evening beings to role in, this could be listening to music, some kind of meditation/yoga or reading a book (preferably a hard copy to reduce blue light from tablets).
Applying these steps to your daily life can have a significant impact of sleep quality and quantity. Consider contacting a care company to come in a help you stick to a routine and promote better sleep, at Angelcare we can provide this service for you. Different people will adjust to new routines at varying speeds however the routine will show its effectiveness after 4-6 weeks. For more serious cases of insomnia and other sleep issues, medical intervention can be provided by a doctor however it is best to consider these after all natural treatments have been exhausted.
Staying safe as restrictions ease:
As lockdown restrictions begin to ease, some people may still be feeling anxious about the virus and will need some additional support and encouragement when it comes to returning to normality.
Below are a selection of things to-do in order to ease your way back into pre pandemic when the country reopens.
Continue to practice social distancing:
Some people will continue to-do this sub-consciously now and if it makes them feel more comfortable out in public then it’s perfectly fine. Once the social distancing rule is removed it won't be possible to enforce and people won't be as wary of staying 2 metres apart so if this is something you would want to continue to do it will require significant effort from you, especially in busy places.
Wash hands regularly:
Continuing to wash hands on a regular basis should be a standard practice by now and should be kept up once lockdown ends, this will help protect yourself from other bacteria's and lower the chances of getting ill from that, this is even more important or those with compromised immune systems.
Covering mouth, nose and hands in public:
Continuing to wear face coverings in public is another way to make yourself feel more comfortable and can help protect you from the spread of many other viruses or bacteria. Face coverings will also act as a sign to other people showing that you are still wary of the virus and as a result people may be more cautious around you. You may also want to carry around gloves as this will mean you can avoid touching and transferring bacteria from common touch points such as door handles and railings.
Making sure that you consume the daily recommended amount of vitamins either through food or supplements will help strengthen the immune system and keep the body's ability to fight off pathogens as efficient as possible.
Getting at least 30 minutes of exercise a day will have a very positive effect on the bodies defensive mechanisms. Regular activity will help reduce inflammation, improve the gut microbiome, help regulate blood pressure, produce higher amounts of innate immune cells and manage body fat percentage. These factors can all help fight off Covid-19 symptoms and avoid any over-reactions by the immune system.
Go at your own pace:
Most importantly it is important to go at your own pace and do what makes you feel comfortable. Everybody will feel differently towards the threat that Covid-19 poses to them and therefore will act differently dependent on that perceived threat level. If family and friends are meeting up in groups and not wearing mask it does not mean you should feel you have to as well. Let them know that you are still concerned about contracting the virus and do not feel ready to interact with people the same way they are, they will understand this and won't want to put you in situations that make you feel anxious so will find ways to include you in a way that makes everyone feel safe.