While in the midst of this COVID-19 season, most everyone has made several adjustments. Changes made in work, lifestyle, shopping, housing, and with kids having to stay home and attend school online. Also, young adults moving back to live with parents, and some with more than two generations under one roof. Good, bad or indifferent, adjustments had to be done. So, now that all these changes have been done, routines reset, where does that leave us emotionally and mentally?
Enter a New Experience: Crisis Fatigue
Crisis fatigue is a response to long, enduring stress that develops due to unexpected or difficult events, such as war, economic depressions, or a pandemic. Although we are equipped to survive as humans, a long-term crisis can create maladies. Enduring mental, emotional, and spiritual fatigue can cause a multitude of issues impacting our lives and relationships.
It is known that everyone at one time or another goes through trials and tribulations in their lives. These are generally personal and specific to each person, family, situations, and relationships. However, when there is a worldwide pandemic, it affects us all one way or another. When personal stress collides with a pandemic, we have found that anxiety, depression and other issues greatly intensify. “How” you may ask “does it affect me?” There are certain signs to look for that tell you that you may need therapy.
What are these signs of crisis fatigue to look for?
Although the following are signs and symptoms of crisis fatigue, they aren’t only applied to it. Other mental or physical health issues may also be occurring. First, let’s look at signs. Then, we’ll look at symptoms. Signs are generally observable on the outside (such as behaviors) while symptoms are what you experience on the inside (thoughts and feelings)s.
Signs of Crisis Fatigue…Here Are a Few
Angry outbursts with your partner or child. You may find yourself snapping a bit more often over “little” things from your partner or child. You may not recognize why or what yet you or others notice it when it happens.
Change in sleep or appetite. You may notice being tired more often, not getting enough sleep or not eating as much as you had in the past. Conversely, you may be sleeping more or you may find yourself getting extra snacks or eating more than before.
Overall difficulty in making decisions. With fear of the unknown, uncertainty about the outcome of the crisis, many people have found it difficult to plan. Their long-term or short-term goals are nearly day-to-day activities or worst case scenario planning. The emotional distress has changed the way they make decisions.
Other signs may include: avoiding or isolating from others, poor or no communication with others, and conflict. Lastly, excessive use of drinking alcohol, illicit or prescription drugs, gaming, porn, and other behaviors may be part of crisis fatigue.
Symptoms may include:
Loss of interest or motivation. This occurs many times when there is a loss of hope or direction. This may occur when certain goals or plans are blocked or not fulfilled. For example, plans to travel to favorite local places, travel cross-country to vacation or attend a large event are interrupted due to the crisis. Also, not getting enough exercise, missing social events each can add to loss. Further, an overload of screen time (phone, tablet, TV, computer, or other gadget) may also create boredom or decreased motivation.
Heightened stress due to job or school demands. For example, you are sent to work from home most if not all week indefinitely. School has shut down or limited campus activities. As a result of being home you are missing the interaction with others. Further, the internet connection, bandwidth or other technical issues are making your work much more difficult to understand or do.
Worry about the future. Especially with teen clients, there is a fear or uncertainty about the future. Further, many adults (and teens) have missed out on attending church services, weddings, funerals, or other social activities that were the norm prior to “lockdowns”. Thus, they are not sure if or when things will return to normal. Secondly, there is a fear of keeping their job, having a job to return to, getting a job, or finishing well with school.
Other Symptoms…including depressed mood, low energy, sadness, anxiety, difficulty concentrating, or hopelessness coincide with the signs.
Now…let’s take a look at some healthy coping strategies to help get through crisis fatigue.
Support — Seek out others to give or ask for support. This can be a text, videoconferencing online, phone call, email or a snail mail card. Thinking of others encourages a give and take relationship.
Routine — Keep a basic routine schedule which can really help you stay on task. Having a strong degree of predictability can get you through.
Disconnect from (social) media – It’s good to be familiar with what’s going on around you and with family and friends. However, the repeat saga of negativity, fears, overload of information can be very exhausting mentally and emotionally. Limit yourself to a few minutes a day. Just check in at best and leave it alone.
Self-reflection — Be honest with yourself of how you feel. Reflect what you have learned and gained through the crisis so far. Check your mood. Am I moody with others? Am I losing time in an ordinary day?
Self-care – Take time for yourself. Have some good ol’ fun. Whether if it’s reading a book, going for a walk or jog, painting, journaling, or other care, make it happen.
Be active – Keep yourself moving no matter how simple it may be. Do what you can when you can. Keep your mind and body active on things that are good for you, positive, uplifting.
Seek help – When you realize things are still rough, you continue to be overwhelmed, seek out professional help. Get counseling to help improve coping, process grief, sort out your thoughts and feelings, and set goals for a better tomorrow.
Here for you
We as counselors here with Pathways Counseling Services are here for you…to help you through these rough times…to help you through this crisis fatigue. Send us a request at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call 520-292-9750 to learn more or to set up an appointment.