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‘Quarantine Fatigue’ Is Real. Here’s How to Cope

Health + Wellness
‘Quarantine Fatigue’ Is Real. Here’s How to Cope
A woman practices yoga at home during the Covid-19 quarantine. LeoPatrizi / Getty Images

By Dan Gray

It's been more than 2 months since self-isolation and shuttered businesses became the norm in most of North America due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


While there's talk of gradual re-openings in some areas, we still could be more than a year away from life returning to normal.

As "quarantine fatigue" takes root, experts say it's worth checking in with yourself and others to deal with this uncertainty in a healthy way.

"A lot of people describe being really fatigued at the end of the day," Mary Fristad, PhD, ABPP, a psychologist at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, told Healthline.

"This is due to so many reasons. One is we're all experiencing so much change and unpredictability in our life," Fristad explained. "A lot of people are feeling very anxious, particularly if they're having financial difficulties, which so many people are. The extra demands of getting through the tasks of the day, when suddenly parents are supposed to be working from home and also providing education for their children, add up to an exhausting schedule for many people."

How Are People Holding Up?

Melissa Wesner, LCPC, a licensed clinical professional counselor and founder of LifeSpring Counseling Services, told Healthline that while there are some commonalities to the way people are responding to the pandemic, individual responses can vary.

"There are some situations that are similar across the board and other responses depend on each person's unique life experiences," she explained.

"For example, many people who work from home at a computer are reporting fatigue and eye strain. Even people who would not identify as extroverts are reporting missing the opportunity to physically be with friends, family, and co-workers."

While phone calls and video chats provide a much-needed social outlet, Wesner says that these seemingly paradoxical interactions — socializing while socially distancing — don't completely fill the void for many people.

"I've heard several people say that they are starting to struggle because they're missing human interaction, physical presence, and hugs," she said. "These individuals have commented that online communication with friends 'just isn't the same.'"

Jessy Warner-Cohen, PhD, MPH, a senior psychologist with Northwell Health in Lake Success, New York, adds that the pandemic makes it difficult for people to hit their optimal level of stimulation.

Warner-Cohen pointed to the Yerkes-Dodson Law, which states that people need a certain level of stimulation in order to be most efficient. Understimulation results in lowered motivation while overstimulation can cause a lack of focus.

"There is an overstimulation from constant information influx and uncertainty as to what will come from this information, and this is tiring," she told Healthline. "There is also fatigue associated with a lack of stimulation. Not having a change in environment is difficult. People are both in an understimulated and overstimulated state, and both can result in negative impacts on mood."

Helping Yourself

With the comforting routines of day-to-day life disrupted, most experts suggest creating new routines.

Physical fitness is something that could fall by the wayside with gyms closed and people cooped up at home.

"A lot of people aren't exercising, so it's very easy to get into a sedentary lifestyle, which can contribute to not sleeping well at night, which contributes to fatigue during the daytime," Fristad said.

To combat this, Fristad suggests sticking to some kind of routine or schedule, even if it isn't as rigid as the pre-pandemic norm.

Virtual exercise classes are widely available in this new era of video chats. With spring weather taking hold, it's also a good time to responsibly enjoy some sunshine.

"It's also important to avoid unhealthy coping," she said. "The amount of alcohol purchases has gone up dramatically since COVID-19 hit. It may be that people simply aren't going out to bars or restaurants, but there is significant concern that some folks are turning to alcohol or other drugs as a means of managing their mood during this time."

Fristad also emphasized the importance of finding time for yourself. Humans are social creatures, but many people have found themselves in households that feel more crowded than usual.

"It's really important to maintain some alone time. It differs from person to person in how much we need, but we all need the ability to decompress," she said.

While a global pandemic may not immediately inspire thoughts of gratitude, mindfulness is a useful technique during this trying time.

"It's important to remember that people are resilient and that we have the ability to get through hard times," Wesner said. "The pandemic and social distancing guidelines provide us with new opportunities to be creative, work differently, and come together as family, friends, colleagues, and community."

Helping Others

Many people, particularly those who don't have children living at home or who are already accustomed to working from home, haven't seen their lives significantly disrupted.

While people in this demographic may be coping adequately, they likely have friends or loved ones who aren't doing so well.

It may not be possible to gather with friends or give a hug to an extended family member, but technology makes it fairly straightforward to check in with friends and loved ones.

"The idea of 'connect five' is a great idea," Fristad said. "If you try to reach out every day to at least five people, it can provide support for you and for them."

"We know that being kind and charitable to other people boosts our own mood, so reaching out and being that cheerful presence for somebody else — maybe by playing a game online with them or just connecting via phone or video conferencing — is a great thing to do," she said.

Reposted with permission from Healthline. For detailed source information, please view the original article on Healthline.

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In early October, Britain's Prince William teamed up with conservationist David Attenborough to launch the Earthshot Prize, a new award for environmentalist innovation. The Earthshot brands itself the "most prestigious global environment prize in history."

The world-famous wildlife broadcaster and his royal sidekick appear to have played an active role in the prize's inception, and media coverage has focused largely on them as the faces of the campaign.

But the pair are only the frontmen of a much larger movement which has been in development for several years. In addition to a panel of experts who will decide on the winners, the prize's formation took advice from the World Wildlife Fund, Greenpeace and the Jack Ma Foundation.

With more and more global attention on the climate crisis, celebrity endorsement of environmental causes has become more common. But why do environmental causes recruit famous faces for their campaigns? And what difference can it make?

'Count Me In'

"We need celebrities to reach those people who we cannot reach ourselves," says Sarah Marchildon from the United Nations Climate Change secretariat (UNFCCC) in Bonn, Germany.

Marchildon is a proponent of the use of celebrities to raise awareness of environmental causes. In addition to promoting a selection of climate ambassadors who represent the UN on sustainability issues, Marchildon's team has produced videos with well-known narrators from the entertainment world: among them, Morgan Freeman and Mark Ruffalo.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," Marchildon explains.

"Sometimes they reach out to us themselves, as David Attenborough did recently. And then they can promote the videos on their own social channels which reach more people than we do — for example, if they have 20 million followers and we have 750,000."

Environmental groups focused on their own domestic markets are also taking this approach. One Germany-based organization that uses celebrities in campaigns is the German Zero NGO. Set up in 2019, it advocates for a climate-neutral Germany by 2035.

German Zero produced a video in March 2020 introducing the campaign with "66 celebrities" that supported the campaign, among them Deutschland 83 actor Jonas Nay and former professional footballer Andre Schürrle. They solicit support as well as financial contributions from viewers.

"Count me in," they say, pointing toward the camera. "You too?"

"We are incredibly grateful for the VIPs in our videos," says German Zero spokeswoman Eva-Maria McCormack.

Assessing Success Is Complex

But quantifying the effectiveness of celebrity endorsement of campaigns is not a straightforward process.

"In order to measure effectiveness, first of all you need to define what is meant by success," says Alegria Olmedo, a researcher at the Zoology Department at the University of Oxford.

Olmedo is the author of a study looking at a range of campaigns concerning pangolin consumption, fronted by local and Western celebrities, in Vietnam and China. But she says her biggest stumbling block was knowing how to measure a campaign's success.

"You need a clear theory of change," explains Olmedo. "Have the celebrities actually helped in achieving the campaign's goals? And how do you quantify these goals? Maybe it is increased donations or higher engagement with a cause."

A popular campaign in China in recent years saw famous chefs Zhao Danian and Shu Yi pledge to abstain from cooking endangered wildlife. While the pledge achieved widespread recognition, both Olmedo and Marchildon say it's difficult to know whether it made any difference to people's actions.

"In life we see a thousand messages every day, and it is very hard to pinpoint whether one campaign has actually made a difference in people's behavior," she explains.

Awareness Is Not Enough

Many campaigns that feature celebrities focus on raising awareness rather than on concrete action — which, for researcher Olmedo, raises a further problem in identifying effectiveness.

"Reach should never be a success outcome," she says. "Many campaigns say they reached a certain number of people on social media. But there has been a lot of research that shows that simply giving people information does not mean they are actually going to remember it or act upon it."

But anecdotal evidence from campaigns may suggest reach can make an active difference.

"Our VIP video is by far the most watched on our social media channels," McCormack from German Zero says. "People respond to it very directly. A lot of volunteers of all ages heard about us through that video."

However, some marketing studies have shown that celebrity endorsement of a cause or product can distract from the issue itself, as people only remember the person, not the content of what they were saying.

Choosing the Right Celebrity

Celebrity choice is also very important. Campaigns that use famous faces are often aiming to appeal to members of the public who do not necessarily follow green issues.

For certain campaigns with clear target audiences, choosing a climate scientist or well-known environmentalist rather than a celebrity could be more appealing — Attenborough is a classic example. For others, images and videos involving cute animals may be more likely to get a message heard than attaching a famous face.

"We choose celebrities who have a lifestyle where they are already talking about these issues," says Marchildon from the UN. "You need figures with credibility."

McCormack cites the example of Katharine Hayhoe, an environmental scientist who is also an evangelical Christian. In the southern United States, Hayhoe has become a celebrity in her own right, appealing to an audience that might not normally be interested in the messages of climate scientists.

But as soon as you get a celebrity involved, campaigns also put themselves at risk of the whims of that celebrity. Prince William and younger members of the royal family have come under fire in recent years for alleged hypocrisy for their backing of environmental campaigns while simultaneously using private jets to fly around the world.

But Does It Really Work?

While environmental campaigns hope that endorsement from well-known figures can boost a campaign, there is little research to back this up.

"The biggest finding [from my study] was that we were unable to produce any evidence that shows that celebrity endorsement of environmental causes makes any difference," says Olmedo.

This will come as a blow to many campaigns that have invested time and effort into relationships with celebrity ambassadors. But for many, the personal message that many celebrities offer in videos like that produced by German Zero and campaigns like the Earthshot Prize are what counts.

The research may not prove this conclusively — but if the public believes a person they respect deeply personally cares about an important issue, they are perhaps more likely to care too.

"I personally believe in the power this can have," says Marchildon. "And if having a celebrity involved can get a single 16-year-old future leader thinking about environmentalist issues — that is enough."

Reposted with permission from DW.

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