By now we are all familiar with the symptoms COVID-19 or the Coronavirus. Cough, fever or chills, fatigue, body aches, the new loss of taste or smell, and the list goes on. However, some of the symptoms of this global pandemic relate to overall mental health and not necessarily physical health and can greatly affect everyone, not just those who are infected with the virus. Many people are referring to this collection of symptoms as COVID fatigue and the effects it can have on the mind and body on a daily basis is very real during this unprecedented time.
For most of us, the coronavirus has created a major transition from the daily life that most people were accustomed to, leading many people to experience COVID fatigue. While COVID fatigue is not a disorder that can be medically diagnosed and it is not cataloged in The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), it has very real symptoms that can have a major impact. Catherine Richardson, LPC, a therapist with the revolutionary mental health and therapy app Talkspace, recently discussed COVID fatigue and gave advice on how to handle it during these times of uncertainty.
Richardson works with Talkspace, which has become a way for people to connect with mental health professionals and engage in therapy over the Talkspace app. This has been a major door opening in a time when people are hesitant to leave their house for anything except a necessity.
COVID Fatigue: A New Threat to Mental Health
COVID fatigue is brought on by the shift in lifestyle that has left most people spending more and more time indoors, engaging in person with people less and less, and in a daily routine that is highly altered from the routine, they are used to and find fulfilling. This is one of the reasons people are turning to Talkspace to gain the benefits of therapy and counseling digitally. Some of the symptoms include fatigue, avoidance of information such as from the news, lack of sleep, anxiety, mental frustration. Richardson of Talkspace shared that she has gone through the symptoms of COVID fatigue on a rotating basis during the pandemic. She said that she goes through the symptoms throughout the week in varying stages and sometimes will even go through them in varying stages in a single day. As an experienced mental health professional currently digitally providing therapy services to people dealing with COVID on top of other issues, Richardson provided some advice on how to handle COVID fatigue.
First, she recommended taking things a single day at a time. Some days it may seem that the changes COVID has brought may never end, but she recommends looking at COVID on a timeline to put in in perspective, noting that it is easy to feel overwhelmed and feel like this will never pass, but it will pass or at least rescind in its severity.
She also recommends focusing on self-care. She speaks about her commitment to daily meditation and recommends it to ground you. She also recommends doing a few simple yoga poses at the beginning and end of each day as a way to relieve stress. Next, Richardson states the importance of not judging yourself during this unprecedented time, giving yourself permission to feel the loss of your past routines and closeness of some relationships.
Finally, Richardson shared the importance of taking this time to look inward and reflect on some of life’s big questions. She notes that with all the time COVID has presented her with, she found it as the perfect opportunity to ask questions like what she wanted to accomplish with her life.
She notes that we are all coping in different ways. Richardson has found that through her work with people seeking digital therapy with professionals through the Talkspace app. The app’s tagline is the feeling better starts with a single message and with COVID taking its toll on all of us, we could all use to feel better.