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Sharp Health News

Are you feeling COVID-19 quarantine fatigue?

July 13, 2020

Frustrated couple with active children
Five months into the COVID-19 pandemic, the effects of the disease and public safety precautions have been devastating — mental health and addiction issues have risen, jobs have been lost and, tragically, tens of thousands have lost their lives. Some have simply become weary of the monotony and loneliness of staying at home.

All of this has led to what experts are calling “COVID-19 quarantine fatigue,” a modern-day version of what is known as “caution fatigue.” This is a phenomenon when your body and mind tire of the sense of danger that you are in and the constant stress it is causing, leading you to become complacent or unable to make good decisions.

What is COVID-19 quarantine fatigue?
With quarantine fatigue, you might grow weary of — or actively ignore — the precautions put in place to slow the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The sense of urgency in managing the global health emergency may have faded and you could find yourself becoming impatient or simply tired of complying with the health and safety guidelines officials have put in place.

On the other hand, you may still be concerned, but begin to feel hopeless, as if no amount of measures can keep you and your loved ones safe from exposure. As a result, the regular sanitizing you do in your home declines or you occasionally forget to wear a face covering when running out the door. Others may expand the number of people they spend time with in person or forego all precautionary measures.

“People miss the way things were,” says Dr. Abisola Olulade, a family medicine doctor with Sharp Rees-Stealy Medical Group. “There is an understandable eagerness to ‘go back to normal.’”

Furthermore, Dr. Olulade notes that the virus is invisible, which, for some, can make it seem like it doesn’t really exist, even though there is evidence it is still spreading. In fact, San Diego County has seen a continuous increase in the number of positive cases among tests in the past month.

And beyond the desire to deny or ignore the health risks associated with the virus, the fact that social interaction and connection with others is a very important part of life for most people cannot be overlooked. “We miss that and it can be hard to accept that this is our new reality,” Dr. Olulade says.

Why it’s important to resist quarantine fatigue
However, Dr. Olulade maintains that we must recognize that we are all in this together and it takes cooperation from everyone in the community to decrease the spread of COVID-19.

“Unfortunately, we do risk an increase in cases as well as repeated lockdowns and further shuttering of businesses and schools,” Dr. Olulade says. “We can expect to see a rise in infection rates, our health care system can become overwhelmed, and there is the potential for increased deaths in people who are more vulnerable if we don’t follow these measures.”

How to avoid quarantine fatigue
Dr. Olulade offers the following recommendations to avoid quarantine fatigue and continue being diligent in our collective efforts to keep our community healthy and reduce the number of COVID-19 infections:

  • Stay informed with trusted and reliable resources, such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.
  • Avoid random internet searches, which may cause more anxiety and misinformation.
  • Avoid constant exposure to news, though it may be beneficial to check local news at occasional intervals to learn pertinent details about COVID-19 in your community.
  • Take care of yourself — eat a nutritionally balanced diet, exercise, get appropriate amounts of sleep and practice self-care.
  • Stay connected with loved ones and make a pact to keep each other accountable in maintaining precautions to avoid catching or spreading the disease.
“It is important to remember that COVID-19 is still spreading, and everything that we do at the individual level affects our community as a whole,” Dr. Olulade says. “It is paramount that we continue to take these precautionary measures and not let down our guard.”

Learn more about what Sharp HealthCare is doing to screen for COVID-19.

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