The Relationship Centre

5 Steps to Relieve COVID Fatigue

It is even possible to find relief from COVID-19 Fatigue? The answer is YES.

And here is a simple guide for you to follow.

The 3 Key Approaches for Relief

Think: Train your mind and manage what you are thinking (cognitive therapy)
Act: Do life-giving activities (behavioural activation)
Be: Practice present moment awareness and openness (mindfulness)

The 5 Steps to Relief

These steps put the 3 approaches above – Think – Act – Be – into action to create movement towards symptom relief. Give them a try to see what they can do for you. 

1) Check-in with What You are Thinking – our minds are constantly telling us stories. And when we are feeling down, the stories tend to be really negative:

  • Nothing I ever do is good enough.
  • I am such a failure.
  • This is too hard; I am never going to figure this out.
  • I am hopeless.

These statements are not true; however, if you struggle with depression they feel like the absolute truth. If you struggle with thoughts like these, you do not have to convince yourself these stories are fiction – rather, simply remind yourself that they are a creation of your mind. And there are alternative stories that are not so disheartening, and that are likely more accurate.

Put It Into Practice: Notice your thoughts especially when you are feeling down. What are you telling yourself? What statements are you making about yourself? Write it down. Now – this is really important, cross out that statement and replace it with one that is more accurate.

For example: (Instead of) “I am such a failure.” (Replace with) “I have had some failures but I have also had some successes too.”

2) Move Your Body – research has long shown that exercise is an effective treatment to reduce depression symptoms. Walking, yoga, lifting weights, dancing, Pilates or just about any other physical activity will help boost your mood.

Put It Into Practice: Start small, but start. Make a plan to move your body in a way that works for you, and ideally doesn’t feel like a terrible chore. Choose something you like and start with 5 or 10 minutes a day. Or if you are already moving your body, add an extra 5 -10 minutes to what you are already doing. 

3) Prioritize Your Sleep – “sleep is king” – that is something I tell all of my clients. It is a simple fact that without adequate sleep we do not cope well. And it doesn’t matter who we are, poor sleep leaves us irritable and overwhelmed with simple tasks.

It is important to take steps to create a good wind-down routine in the evening to prepare your body and brain for sleep. Step away from all screens at least one hour before bed, do something calming in the last hour before bed, and keep a consistent bedtime and wake-up time.

Put It Into Practice: Consider one small step you can take to improve your sleep and practice it consistently for at least two weeks to evaluate how helpful it is to your sleep. 

4) Be With People – it has been said that good relationships are antidepressants. We are wired for connection to others, so this makes sense. Aim to spend time with those you love. Our current reality calls for creativity so it may be a phone or video chat, or perhaps a socially distanced walk if you live close enough.

Put It Into Practice: Make a point to talk to a friend or family member outside of your household a few times each week.

5) Be Open to the Present – Be in the moment. Being present isn’t just about not living in the future – it is really about coming home to yourself, in the here and now. We really only exist in the present. There is a simple mantra I love. It is spoken softly, slowly, and calmly: I – am – fine. If you are in a space where you are physically safe, and your basic needs are met then this statement is true.

Put It Into Practice: Find a mantra that resonates with you and helps you be in the moment. During times when you find yourself living in the past or worrying about the future, say your mantra several times to help bring you back to the present.

These are stressful times and more than anything, be kind to yourself – now and always. You deserve this.

If you need support to put these steps into practice, we have a team of caring and compassionate therapists ready to help.

by: Mary Joan Brinson MSW, RSW