My family and I have been having a difficult time getting along with each other during the last several weeks. After all these months of COVID-19 we are exhausted and almost ready to give up. We welcome your advice to cope better in the days ahead.
It’s been almost a year since COVID-19 took over our planet, and many of us are drained and feeling the effects of life in the middle of a pandemic. In fact, this experience of feeling depleted and sapped is being called COVID-19 fatigue.
COVID-19 fatigue, or burnout, implies a person has reached their ability to cope as a result of the persistent exposure to pandemic stressors. This inner tension has emerged as a result of having to wear a face mask every time you leave home, having to socially distance, being isolated from family members and friends, suffering financial stress because of losing your job or fear that you will lose your job, having to go to school or work from home, and many more alterations to what used to be normal in our daily lives.
When you have frequent sensations of exhaustion, physical and mental fatigue, lack of energy; are constantly feeling overpowered, sad, or helpless; are unable to complete daily tasks; feel increased irritability with your loved ones—as you shared above; experience reduced work performance; and have feelings of isolation from others, you know you are experiencing COVID-19 fatigue.
While these symptons of fatigue, or burnout, have been increasing with the continuation of the pandemic, it is very important that we don’t allow safety practices to be disregarded or give up in frustration. We encourage you to remain vigilant and aware of the fact that the pandemic will come to an end one day, and you want to still be alive with your family members to enjoy what you’ve missed all these months: fellowship with family and friends, visiting places and people you love, and even eating at your favorite restaurants.
To be standing at the end of the pandemic you will need to make good decisions about how you approach the days and weeks ahead until you are able to get vaccinated against the virus. The truth is, millions around the world have already died of COVID-19, and many more will die if they give up in exasperation. A good way to remain alive is to continue following the safety guidelines, keep your immune system strong by eating healthful food, exercise regularly, sleep enough hours, and take advantage of the vaccine when it is your group’s turn to get it.
To lessen the family tension you’ve been experiencing, use this time as an opportunity to nurture your family relationships. Cook and eat meals together, and take walks outdoors together. Choosing to affirm and validate each other’s emotions that arise from pandemic anxiety is also extremely essential. Practice speaking gently and kindly to each other, and be intentional about being patient with your family members every day.
Last but not least, remember that God is with you and your family and has promised in Philippians 4:6, 7: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”*
Willie Oliver, Ph.D., CFLE, an ordained minister, pastoral counselor, family sociologist, and certified family life educator, is director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.
Elaine Oliver, Ph.D., LCPC, CFLE, a licensed clinical professional counselor, educational psychologist and certified family life educator, is associate director for the Department of Family Ministries at the world headquarters of the Seventh-day Adventist Church.