Before 2020, the term pandemic fatigue wasn’t something any of us had heard of. Now, many of us are experiencing it. And when we’re drained by stressful circumstances, it’s normal to have trouble maintaining our focus, our motivation to keep up with healthy habits, and our sense of purpose or joy. At the same time, it’s imperative that we take steps — however small — to identify early signs of fatigue so we can prevent more serious exhaustion and burnout. 

We asked our Thrive community to share with us the little, creative ways they’re easing their pandemic fatigue and recharging their mental batteries. Which of these will you try?

Commit to a passion project 

“I spent most of the pandemic on a 180-day furlough from my former employer. I am also a stone’s throw from Detroit, one of the areas hardest hit by the pandemic, so it’s been easy to become fatigued. Instead of giving into the feeling of exhaustion, I poured myself into writing a new book and contributing to a not-profit book (1% Safer) which are both in print today. I also wrote over 200 articles on COVID-19 heroes. I simply chose to remain optimistic when every day brought news that was grimmer and grimmer. I’ve realized that optimism is a choice, and it directly benefits our physical and mental well-being.”

—Phil La Duke, author, Detroit, MI

Redecorate your workspace

“I’ve found that brightening up my physical space has eased the natural stir-crazy feelings of working from home. This past weekend, I bought myself a bouquet of flowers for my desk, and have admired it in my workspace each day since. This small gesture of beautifying my space has made coming back to my computer each morning feel warm and inviting.”

—Cara Planitz-Clatanoff, MBA graduate and entrepreneur, Tucson, AZ

Start your day with movement

“Now that many of us are working from home, we may be sleeping more without having to commute. But I find that it is still exhausting to move from the bedroom to the office and sit for a full day of work. I’ve found that it is important to keep my physical activity part of my early morning routine and reserve my evenings for winding down and going to bed early. I never thought that waking up earlier than usual would have such a positive impact on my overall well-being, but it’s really helped ease any feelings of pandemic fatigue.”

—Martin Sevillano, architect, Los Angeles, CA

Buy a coloring book

“At the start of the pandemic, I didn’t know how to switch off mentally after the day or even on a weekend. I found that I couldn’t let my mind relax. The best investment I have made to ease my mental fatigue? Buying an adult coloring book and a set of pencil crayons. I also ordered my five-year-old daughter a kid version and we sit and color together. It has definitely alleviated my fatigue because it gives me permission to switch off mentally and it also incorporates color therapy. I get so much joy from it, and it’s really helped me relax.”

—Lori Milner; Speaker, author, coach; Johannesburg, South Africa

Adopt an animal

“The best thing we ever did over lockdown was to increase our flock of adorable rare breed chickens! It might have taken us a few attempts at hatching and finally some purchasing, but it was well worth it. The days whiled away as we eagerly awaited the ‘due’ date, and then the weeks turned into months as we watched them grow and shed their downy fluff in exchange for beautiful plumage. We’ve even been setting up nurseries for the newborns. It’s helped us feel excited each day and ease our fatigue.”

—Jessie Shedden, motivational speaker and author, Wales, UK

Carve out some device-free family time

“Before the pandemic started, I didn’t get much time to spend with my parents and sister because of our busy schedules. But now, the four of us get adequate time to have dinner together, talk to each other, and discuss various problems we’re facing. We’ve established 9:00 pm as our ‘family time,’ where no one is allowed to touch their phones or other devices. We play cards and board games, share jokes, laugh together, and make the most out of that one hour. This one hour releases all my stress from the day.”

—Hardik Lashkari, content writer, Jaipur, India

Prioritize sleep

“One of the strategies that has worked well for me to ease my pandemic fatigue is sleep. Whether it’s clocking in my eight hours of sleep or carving out time for a power nap during the day, I find sleep can do wonders for my well-being. It has boosted my productivity, helped me feel more refreshed, and even improved my overall mood.”

—Isabella Fernandes, manager quality, Mumbai, India

Give your eyes a screen break

“I’ve been finding that a great deal of mental fatigue is related to visual fatigue. Due to the pandemic, we spend a lot more time inside staring at our computer, television, and phone screens, so we have to make a conscious effort to give our eyes a break. I recharge my mind by closing my eyes and powering down my brain every hour. It doesn’t take long, and it makes all the difference when it comes to my mental stamina and clarity. I’ve also adjusted my screen settings because science has shown that enlarging the type for easier reading and reducing the brightness helps as well. I limit my screen time in the evenings which helps me relax and get a better night’s rest.”

—Farrah Smith, life coach, Los Angeles, CA

What tip is helping you ease your pandemic fatigue right now? Share your suggestion with us in the comments.

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  • Marina Khidekel

    Chief Content Officer at Thrive

    Marina leads strategy, ideation and execution of Thrive's content company-wide, including cross-platform brand partnership and content marketing campaigns, curricula, and the voice of the Thrive platform. She's the author of Thrive's first book, Your Time to Thrive. In her role, Marina brings Thrive's audience actionable, science-backed tips for reducing stress and improving their physical and mental well-being, and shares those insights on panels and in national outlets like NBC's TODAY. Previously, Marina held senior editorial roles at Women's Health, Cosmopolitan, and Glamour, where she edited award-winning health and mental health features and spearheaded the campaigns and partnerships around them.