How to Overcome Quarantine Fatigue and Post-Quarantine Stress
A year-plus into the pandemic, if you’re still spending most of your waking hours at home – working remotely, with no companions except immediate family members, your streaming services and the 24-hour news channels – you may be feeling stressed and burnt out from the seemingly endless isolation.
You aren’t alone: More people have experienced anxiety, depression, loneliness, increased stress and burnout during the pandemic.
How to keep your mood up while you’re mostly staying at home
Taking time to care for your mental and physical needs may improve your mood and outlook on life. Adopting simple lifestyle habits may help.
While you’re mainly keeping to yourself:
- Stay in touch with loved ones. Schedule frequent phone calls or video meetings with faraway friends and relatives, to maintain close connections. Consider meeting local friends outdoors: Take a walk or sit around a fire pit and catch up. Talking about feelings may help you feel closer.
- Follow healthy habits. Eat good-for-you foods, exercise regularly and get enough sleep. Taking charge of these daily activities may help you feel more in control of your life.
- Practice kindness. Find ways to brighten the days of the people around you. Leave thoughtful notes. Cook someone’s favorite dish. Let a stranger merge in front of you on the highway. Performing gestures that bring others joy is research-proven to boost your happiness.
- Keep a gratitude journal. In the morning or at bedtime each day, jot down three things that brought you joy recently. The exercise should help to lift your mood in the moment, reminding you of the positives in your life. Over time, you’ll have a written record of the things that made you smile during the pandemic.
- Find ways to relax. Whether you enjoy yoga, meditation, gardening, playing a musical instrument or something else, giving yourself the time and space to decompress may help you feel less stressed, anxious or depressed.
How to keep your mood up when you re-emerge from quarantine
As more people receive COVID-19 vaccines, you may feel comfortable about doing some of the activities that you’ve been hesitant about for months.
While you’re re-emerging from quarantine:
- Recognize your comfort levels. It may take you a while before you feel like hugging people, ordering family-style takeout with friends or going to the movies. Don’t force yourself to do something before you’re ready; you’ll know when you are.
- Find ways to get out of your rut. You may need motivation to ditch your stuck-at-home routine. Try planning fun outdoor activities within your comfort zone, like a hike, a picnic or a stroll with friends.
- Talk about your feelings. Open up to your partner or a trusted friend about hesitations that you may have about trying to resume some of your old habits. You may be comforted to know that others are having similar feelings.
If pandemic fatigue or re-entering society makes you feel sad or hopeless, or if you notice that you’ve lost interest in activities that you normally enjoy, or that your eating or sleeping habits have changed, reach out to a doctor or therapist for help.
Next Steps & Resources:
- Meet the source: Aakash Shah, M.D.
- To make an appointment with a Hackensack Meridian Health doctor near you, call 800-822-8905 or visit our website.