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Overcoming pandemic fatigue for better mental well-being

PETALING JAYA: The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has resulted in a general sense of fatigue among people, a natural reaction to the continuous emphasis placed on SOPs that must be abided by in order to stem the spread of the coronavirus.

This sense of pandemic fatigue, however, has resulted in less people bothering to follow health and safety measures, said Malaysian Society of Clinical Hypnosis vice president Dr Thema Abdul Majid.

Speaking at the International Conference in Clinical Communications and Hypnotherapy, Thema said, “Prolonged periods of stress and uncertainty can lead to complacency and fatigue.

“Whereas people were more enthusiastic with following the safety measures to contain the spread of the virus at the start of the pandemic, there is now less enthusiasm due to exhaustion.”

Citing a survey conducted from December 2020 to March 2021 by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Centre for Research in Psychology and Human Well-being, Thema said 62.5% of the 2,047 nationwide respondents, aged 18 and above, experienced pandemic fatigue.

With most restrictions being lifted, and inter-district and inter-state travel now permitted, it is essential that the public do not become complacent in practising good hygiene, physical distancing and mask-wearing when out.

Failing to follow the recommended SOPs may lead to a spike in cases and restrictions being reinstated.

Thema said that many people were feeling overwhelmed with still having to maintain a constant state of vigilance. “Pandemic fatigue can threaten our health and mental well-being by causing stress and anxiety, exhaustion, depression and insomnia.”

Signs of pandemic fatigue include a sense of loneliness, boredom, anger and frustration, she added.

She said self-care, acceptance and adaptation were important aspects for coping with pandemic fatigue and recommended that people make time for themselves to rest, exercise or pursue a hobby.

Making an effort to interact more with loved ones can help alleviate the stress of pandemic fatigue. (Rawpixel pic)

“Taking breaks from work or study, eating healthy and normally, getting enough sleep and talking to loved ones, can further relieve stress and fatigue. Avoid unhealthy ways of coping such as increased smoking, alcohol consumption and substance abuse,” she said.

She added that the most important change was to adjust expectations as needed and set healthy boundaries. “Be flexible with the changing safety measures as new scientific insights into the virus continue to be made.”

As a clinical hypnotherapist, Thema said she believed hypnotherapy could provide techniques to better handle pandemic fatigue.

Relaxation techniques, self-hypnosis, creating boundaries and addressing negative thoughts were just a few techniques she said that people could adopt.

Hypnotherapy has been used to successfully treat those with anxiety, burnout, fatigue and phobias. (Rawpixel pic)

Hypnotherapy has effectively been used to treat anxiety, burnout, fatigue and phobias, she added. But she noted that mental health services needed to be made more accessible to and affordable for the general public.

She urged people to continue protecting themselves against the virus and for the authorities to provide accurate information to avoid confusion or the spread of conspiracy theories.

The International Virtual Conference in Clinical Communications and Hypnotherapy was organised by the London College of Clinical Hypnosis Asia, in collaboration with the Asia Pacific Society of Clinical Communications and Hypnosis, British Society of Clinical Hypnosis, and Malaysian Society of Clinical Hypnosis. This post was featured on Free Malaysia today. Link here Overcoming pandemic fatigue for better mental well-being | Free Malaysia Today (FMT)

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