Part 1: Meditation & morning habits to overcome pandemic fatigue
What a year it has been… A pandemic, the threat of World War III, global recession, political turmoil, millions infected, and millions of loved ones lost. Want to overcome pandemic fatigue? The toll of this pandemic on human health (and the collateral damage incurred) has been cataclysmic. COVID has left our lives and economies in tethers. While administrations race to create the anecdote to the virus, some countries are encountering a second wave of infections. European countries, witnessing a new surge in the number of COVID cases, are preparing for a second lockdown. As the pandemic continues to drag on, a common phenomenon that is emerging among the population is pandemic fatigue. Following preventive measures, keeping morale high is slowly becoming more strenuous. This fatigue is even more evident among frontline workers. What we are witnessing is a relapse of cautious behaviour and unfolding of risky bearings. Looking back at the start of this pandemic, people’s fear of coronavirus had them resorting to staying at home, ordering only necessities for delivery or at stores, maintaining social distancing when out and about, being vigilant about washing hands and general cleanliness, and obsessively wiping down everything with disinfectant. But, months into this situation people are losing their resolve against the virus. Frankly speaking, people are tired. The coronavirus is triggering psychological fatigue among the masses. Public health investigators have found that this fatigue is the root cause of people being more venturous and further contributing to the spread of the virus.
Our resolution may have diminished but now more than ever we have to find the strength to recommit ourselves to being responsible members of the society and do everything possible to curb the blitzkrieg of COVID. This series is a guide dedicated to our followers to help them overcome pandemic fatigue and prioritise their mental and physical well-being. The prolonged lockdowns have understandably exacerbated mental health issues like depression and anxiety. Addressing the emotional outcome of this pandemic is as important as the physiological implications of the virus. Being social animals, isolation has been hard for human beings. Some groups of people (especially people with preexisting medical, psychiatric, or substance abuse problems) are more vulnerable to psychosocial effects of COVID than others. The distress of dealing with mass home confinements, income vulnerabilities, conflicting messages from authorities and health officials, and pressures of home life has intensified emotional fraught individually and collectively. A study carried out in communities worst affected by SARS in the early 2000s revealed some interesting aspects of the human psyche. It divulged that although healthcare workers, frontline responders, affected individuals, and the wider community were galvanised to comply with quarantine and medical regulations to reduce the risk of infecting others, emotional distress tempted some to consider violating these guidelines. The current scenario is a reminiscence of this same human behaviour.
When it comes to pandemic fatigue, our first recommendation is getting in touch with a health professional for formal mental health evaluations or supportive interventions; especially if you fall in the vulnerable groups. We know that it’s easier said than done given the circumstances. The reduced access to medical consultation engenders longer waiting lists and late prognosis. Within the confines of our home, there are certain tactics that we can follow to protect our physical and mental vigour.
The two techniques that we would like to talk about in this post are meditation and healthy morning habits. One should not discount the positive reverberation of these two simple techniques. Meditation has long been known to help us be more mindful, reduce stress levels, improve focus, and feel more connected to ourselves. In meditation, you learn to pay attention to your breathing while training your mind to anchor itself to the present moment, without distraction or judgement. Making time for 30-minutes of meditation every day could give you a much-needed space in your life and mould you to become more patient, kind, and relaxed. Meditation aims to clear the mind from the endless thoughts and daily disruptions that plague us. To build mindfulness through meditation, you need only three things- you, a mat, and a place to sit. The first step to meditating IS to be comfortable and assembling yourself to sit still for a few minutes. Once you are comfortably situated on the mat, start focusing on your natural breathing. Keep your focus on the inhaling and exhaling of breath; block out the outer world and keep your attention on the sound and movement of your breath. Follow your breath for two minutes. Take a deep inhalation and exhale slowly, repeat yourself till your mind is calm. There will be times when your mind will inevitably wander. When you notice yourself wandering, simply bring your focus back to the breathing. The slow breathing aids the body’s systems to maintain balance against stressors that trigger anxiety, panic, and fatigue. Meditation is an element that helps us to build a better relationship with our mind and body and by extension to others.
The other technique to alleviate pandemic fatigue is to build a consistent routine of healthy morning habits. There is scientific evidence that illustrates the benefits of maintaining a steady, daily routine. It implies that our body functions optimally when we repeat our daily activities at the same time day after day. This is inclusive of wake up time, meal times, exercise regime, skincare routine etc. Build a schedule of the daily tasks which is convenient for your lifestyle. Wake up at a specific time every morning. We recommend starting your day with a warm glass of lemon water to boost your metabolism followed by some morning movement or mediation. Consume a nutritious breakfast, plan your day, repeat positive affirmations to yourself to keep your priorities aligned. These small acts of self-care can motivate you to stay active and healthy.
The implications of COVID-19 on our collective health, social engagement, and emotional functioning is beyond our control. But there are things that we can do in our everyday lives that can contribute greatly to our health. The little things add up to greater welfare. Pandemic fatigue is real and it might be taxing to abide by the rules. However, we must all remember that to overcome the virus it will take the integrated efforts of the community, medical professionals, and governments. The light at the end of the tunnel is still distant as we wait for a vaccine. Until then let’s re-devote our energies to follow health guidelines and keep our physical and mental health in check. In this together team.
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