As Manitobans and Canadians get ready for the winter months, continued spikes in COVID-19 cases across the country have prompted new restrictions in certain provinces.
Psychologists say it’s important to understand this is a tough time for most, and that COVID fatigue is a real thing.
“We have to understand that the impact of all this is taking away the things that most of us would rely on to actually become more psychologically resilient,” Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Rehman Abdulrehman said. “And that would be regular routine, work and social support – all of that is gone.”
For most people, the pandemic is unlike anything else they’ve dealt with in their lifetime.
The bombardment of daily news updates from governments across the world has made some people feel overwhelmed.
“One of the things that people are struggling with is inconsistent messaging.” Clinical Psychologist, Dr. Taslim Alani-Verjee said. “So if there’s one thing that our leaders can do maybe a little bit better, is to be very consistent. Not only with messaging but also in their own behaviour and making sure that’s consistent with the messaging.
“When we hear about different policies being put in place, are those laws, are they guidelines, why are those the ones that are set out and why are they changing constantly?”
“Let us the people understand why those rules are being put in place, how they’re going to be enforced and what the benefit is to us in following them.”
Along with inconsistent messaging, ruling with an iron fist also doesn’t work.
“I think in order for us to be able to make people make change we have to give a sense of relatability, to understand what people are going through,” Dr. Abdulrehman said. “We need to turn to motivate people through that relatability. If we resort to a scolding of people we are not going to be able to get anywhere.”
Experts also saying its important to take care of your own mental health at this time.
“Frankly I think the mental health component of all of this has been missed,” Dr. Abdulrehman said. “We’re asking, not to say what we’re asking from people is wrong, it is absolutely needed and essential, but we’re also doing it without absolutely trying to understand or relate to the difficulties people are having and that’s this COVID burnout.”
“Make space for those emotions, and know that they are legitimate, and you don’t need to put a smile on your face and be strong just because everyone tells you to,” Dr. Alani-Verjee said. “This is hard and crummy, but there is an end in sight, so find ways to take care of yourself. Acknowledge the emotions and find ways of making meaning of the emotions.”
Dr. Alani-Verjee suggests if you’re feeling a lack of motivation to try and focus on the smaller things that inspire you and make you feel motivated.
“If you are feeling extra tired, take the time to rest but also find things that give you energy,” Dr Alani-Verjee said. “Whatever it is that helps you feel yourself most, take some time and invest in those things.”
Experts say to try to understand, like most things, this pandemic will not last forever.
“Understanding that there is an end to this, to this marathon,” Dr. Alani Verjee said. “It feels like we’ve been going at it for so long there doesn’t seem to be a clear end in sight. But remembering that there is an end in sight. The more we commit to the strategies of washing our hands and maintaining the physical distance from one another, the sooner the end will come.”