As pandemic fatigue sets in, Vermont mental health experts say there are ways to cope

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“Very long.”

“It definitely has felt very long at this point.”

“It feels like it’s been years.”

That’s how a few Vermonters described how they feel, eight months into the coronavirus pandemic. On Tuesday, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine called it “pandemic fatigue,” the mental and physical exhaustion of being constantly on guard against a potentially deadly disease.

Levine said the fatigue is normal, but it’s important to continue protecting ourselves and others.

“We just need to double down on prevention and not roll the dice on risk,” he said. “Because one thing we do know is that when gambling with health the virus might really win. We’ve been a model for the nation, and together if we can stay Vermont strong we can keep it that way.”

Alison Krompf fof the Vermont Department of Mental Health says feelings of doubt, dread, and uncertainty are not unusual these days.

“All the things that you felt slightly heroic by doing in the beginning, because it was for the greater good, because it was for your own health, the nation and your state and your community, now become a lot less novel and a lot more tiresome,” she said.

Burlington therapist Kelley Tessier says she tells her clients it’s okay to feel this way.

“Give yourself permission to be tired,” Tessier said. “I always tell my clients – and I drive them crazy – get out, move, go for a walk, go for a run, connect with someone, a volunteer with animals.”

Krompf say there’s no universal remedy for pandemic fatigue. “It’s incredibly important to note that this pandemic and the virus itself has not impacted everyone equally,” she said. “There are disparities and health inequities that have really come into play here.”

Georgia Malone-Wolfsun, a sophomore at Champlain College, said she’s learned to cope.

“I think for me, at least, it helps make it feel less fatiguing and less draining when you just accept and are like, ‘Okay, it’s just a new way of life.’ Instead of force what is now into what used to be,” said sophomore film major. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo also warned of “COVID Fatigue.”

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