Be on guard against Covid-19 fatigue

Johannesburg – While the Covid-19 pandemic changed our world, many people were excited at the prospect of working from home and spending more time indoors.

But with that came mask-wearing, social distancing and endless sanitising when one does venture outdoors.

A year later and the same rules apply.

Health experts say they have noticed that although many people are working from home, and the year is only halfway through, pandemic fatigue has set in.

Abdurahman Kenny, a mental health portfolio manager at Pharma Dynamic, said feeling exhausted and run down are classic symptoms of fatigue.

He explained that working from home, many people don’t switch off as they would when working from the office.

Many employees also complain that they often work after hours and even when they feel ill. Kenny said among the primary reasons for feeling mentally drained during the pandemic is being in a constant state of high alert, which takes its toll on energy levels over a prolonged period.

.Dr Lerato Masemola, who also goes by the name Dr Yummy Mummy, warned of the dangers of working even when you’re sick because you are working from home. “If you’re sick enough to be booked off, you’re not doing anyone any favours by pushing through your fatigue, pain and dizziness.

You don’t owe your employer your health because you now work from home anyway,” said Masemola.

She said those who are working or studying remotely are also feeling the compounded effects of hours of video conferencing, lectures, or seminars that have been forced online due to Covid-19.

“Many feel they are being pushed to do more than ever before. While the use of Zoom, Skype, Teams and Google Meet have now become commonplace, video conferencing can be exhausting.

“When on a video call our brain must work much harder to process non-verbal cues such as facial expressions, tone and pitch of voice and body language. Having to pay more attention to these cues can become tiring,” she said.

“It’s important to think about ways to optimise video conferencing to reduce fatigue. Do this by setting strict time limits on meetings, taking regular breaks and drawing up an agenda to focus on only pertinent points during the discussion, otherwise it can drag on for hours.”

Masemola said the constant information on Covid-19 on TV, radio, social media and other forms of media has also contributed to mental exhaustion. Kenny advised that if you’re suffering from pandemic fatigue, create a healthy routine that will make you and your family thrive in the new normal.

Kenny said eating right, drinking enough water, going to bed early, exercising, limiting caffeine or alcohol intake, making time to see close friends and family (in person) at least weekly, meditation, reading or getting creative is important at this time.

“If your symptoms don’t improve within a few weeks, it may be more than pandemic burnout and could have progressed into a mental condition such as depression, a mood or anxiety disorder. If this is the case, you need professional help.”

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