Be alert to quarantine fatigue
The changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic are challenging. Life in social distancing is at turns frustrating, lonely, stressful and… boring. As the weeks wear on and states and regions begin to “open,” many are experiencing quarantine fatigue — the gradual relaxing of personal behaviors required to slow the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. While this is understandable, it’s important to recognize the signs of quarantine fatigue and fight back to keep yourself, and your community, healthy.
Data has shown that even before governments relaxed their regulations, around April 14, people had begun to leave their homes with more frequency and travel further than they had in the first four weeks of stay-at-home orders.
What is causing quarantine fatigue?
There are a number of factors that contribute to quarantine fatigue – some are practical and some more psychological. Practically, finances cause some people to relax their pandemic restrictions — they need to return to work in order to support their families. As more time passes, our needs go beyond restocking groceries and extend to refilling prescriptions, buying home maintenance supplies or gardening items as the seasons change.
However, the reasons we are venturing out might run deeper. For some, the simple need for human interaction, and the damage caused by prolonged isolation, may outweigh the risks of infection. For others, as the pandemic wears on, the fight or flight response to danger wears off and defenses are down. If you do not live in a hot spot, it might be hard to imagine that the dangers posed by the virus are as great as initially thought.
None of these causes of quarantine fatigue are good reasons to take unnecessary chances, especially if you’re at higher risk of getting sick due to other health problems. As more people return to work and public spaces, COVID-19 cases are likely to increase, which means if you can stay home, it’s important to do so. So how can you curb the urge to get back out there?
Beating quarantine fatigue
Use these strategies to help follow the hygiene and distancing recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
- Stick to the facts. Remind yourself that while public behavior has changed, the virus has not changed. There is still no proven vaccine or cure for COVID-19, and it is still as contagious as ever.
- Reach out and try something new. Learning about a new interest or trying out a new hobby is stimulating — even more so with a friend. Reach out to friends and family and ask what they’ve been doing to stay busy. Consider joining in with one of their hobbies, remotely. This will provide you with a new interest of your own, and a new topic of conversation or reason to call.
- Offer support. One great way to recommit to slowing the spread of the coronavirus is by reaching out and offering support to someone who is also struggling. If someone you know has suffered from a job loss, illness or an increase in stress, this is a good time to be supportive in any way you can — so long as it’s remote. Your time, a few dollars or a thoughtful email or text might mean the world to them, as well as strengthen your resolve.
While it’s not clear how long we’ll all need to modify your behavior, until there is a reliable cure or vaccine, it’s best to stay safe and observe social distancing precautions as much as possible. If you must go out, follow the CDC’s recommendations to keep 6 feet apart, stay away from crowded places, practice good hand hygiene and avoid touching your face.