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How to handle quarantine fatigue

A man yawning.

Social distancing is one of the most effective ways to slow the spread of the coronavirus. Staying apart has saved lives.

But progress toward reopening can be slow and have setbacks. As a result, many of us may be experiencing bouts of quarantine fatigue. This phenomenon can manifest as increased irritability, trouble sleeping, eating more or less than usual, feeling run-down, and experiencing a lack of motivation.

To get through it, it helps to have some coping mechanisms.

Hang in there

If you're feeling restless and weary, the American Psychological Association and other experts offer these tips to cope with the mental health effects of the pandemic and social isolation.

Change your thinking. You have more control of the pandemic than you may think. You are helping to slow the spread of the virus by social distancing. You are making a difference. So try to focus on the good you're doing.

Take a few deep breaths. When you feel worried or upset, take a few minutes to relax your body and mind.

Get a move on. Exercise—in your home or outside while social distancing—lowers stress and lifts your mood.

Reach out. If you can't be with loved ones, stay in touch with calls, video chats or social media. Staying connected (even virtually) is even more important right now.

Keep a gratitude journal. Each day jot down a few words about what went your way. When you examine your journal, it may help you find hope and positivity.

Limit the news. It's important to stay informed. But constant COVID-19 news can fuel your fears. When you do need information, turn to reliable sources like respected public health agencies and your local health department.

If your stress becomes overwhelming, call your doctor. It's also important to check with your provider if you find yourself using alcohol or drugs to cope.

If you'd like to learn more about COVID-19 and how you can protect yourself, visit our Coronavirus health topic center.

Reviewed 10/21/2020

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