RICHMOND, Va. -- We have been battling the coronavirus for several months, and there is news of effective COVID-19 vaccines that will soon be distributed once the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved the drug under an Emergency Use Authorization. The vaccines bring hope, but, understandably, some people are mentally and physically tired of the pandemic.
Licensed Professional Counselor Denisha Smith, from Healing Well Therapy, says COVID fatigue is real.
Her office has welcomed many new clients who are looking for mental relief during the pandemic.
In 2020 the coronavirus introduced Americans to mask mandates, physical distancing precautions, and a tremendous amount of uncertainty.
Smith said it was normal for people to feel overwhelmed in current conditions.
"We've been in this for quite a bit of time, so that's what in my opinion, causes some COVID fatigue," Smith said.
Symptoms of COVID fatigue include not feeling like yourself, exhaustion, a loss of patience, and a lack of interest in people with whom you usually enjoy spending time, according to Smith.
"It's normal. We don't know when this is going to change. And so, that's the danger. That's when we can start to develop symptoms of chronic stress. It moves from your regular normal daily life stressors to potentially something a little bit more serious like chronic stress, it's very challenging for a lot of people, myself included," Smith explained.
Ignoring the stress could create a serious health risk for some people, Smith said.
"When we don't pay attention to the signs that our body is telling us it can lead to our bodies being exposed to more cortisol, when we have prolonged exposure to cortisol that can lead to a weakened immune system digestive issues, heart disease, just to name a few," she added.
Smith suggested people take action when they notice the signs of COVID fatigue.
"Change up your routine. Maybe you're just in the mundane every day, it's the same type of thing, try to do something different. Maybe go outside, connect with nature. Be intentional about reaching out to your friends and loved ones. Exercise is always good. And if you try some of those things on your own and you still find yourself dragging, in a low mood, or anxious, then it may be time to reach out for additional support," Smith said.
Those struggling with the realities of the pandemic are encouraged to contact their local community service board.
If necessary, she also suggested contacting the national suicide hotline 1-800-273-8255 or reaching out to a therapist.
You can find more about Smith and her services here.
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