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It's January, Again.

I saw a posting on Facebook about the start of the New Year. New year. But it doesn’t seem like it. Nothing about resolutions. Omicron, the latest version of COVID-19 has the new year seeming a lot like the old one. Or the one before that. Maybe you have seen the memes, too: there’s the one of Bill Murray and Groundhog Day, or the twin girls from Stanley Kubrick’s version of The Shining, only they are triplets: 2020, 2021 and 2022. Early in the pandemic, fatigue was cited as one of the symptoms of the coronavirus. Now, health experts warn of the fatigue from the pandemic itself. Enough, already!

Last October, Healthline posted an article by Rebecca Joy Stansborough on COVID Fatigue and Pandemic Burnout. She wrote it as the Delta variant moved across the country, disrupting work and school schedules, impacting travel plans and jostling the economy just as things seemed to be getting back to normal. In December, the Omicron variant did it again. If you are feeling overwhelmed, or just over it, you are not alone.

The World Health Organization defines pandemic fatigue as being ‘“demotivated’ and “exhausted.” It is the natural state that comes from an extended stressor. The initial “fight or fight” response gives way to frustration or complacency as the pandemic goes on. The on again/off again of openings and closings; sporting events that are disrupted by COVID protocols and players testing positive; or the anxiety over the risk of spreading the virus to others within our circle of family and friends—all of these things pile up one atop the other.

There are some simple things we can all do to help feel less overwhelmed by the pandemic.  

  • Stick to your routines. Maintain your habits, exercise, hobbies and socializing as possible. Can’t get together in person? Take advantage of Zoom, FaceTime or other online resources to help stay connected.

  • And, while you should maintain your healthy habits, try to avoid the picking up any bad ones.  Overeating, stress eating or drinking can lead to other health problems.

  • Develop a “mindfulness habit.” Pay attention to the present moment and the people around you.  

  • Limit your news-gathering time. Turn off the TV.  Put down your smartphone. Take a break from the internet. Go for a walk.

  • And if you feel overwhelmed, it is okay to ask for help.

The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health of Americans. A recent report form Mental Health America, Spotlight 2021 – COVID-19 and Mental Health, showed significant increases in symptoms of anxiety and depression. Moderate to severe symptoms of depression, and more frequent thoughts of suicide or self harm, often as a result of loneliness and isolation, pose a significant health risk for all ages.

Resources are available in our community to address mental health needs. NAMI of Greater Cleveland offers a variety of resources on its website. And the ADAMHS Board of Cuyahoga County website includes many resources and referral sources for those seeking help. Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging is proud to partner with these organizations and others in meeting the needs of older adults and family caregivers. And other community partners serve the needs of others in our community at any age.

January is #MentalWellnessMonth. Consider taking a free, confidential mental health screening on the ADAMHS Board website. Choose from a list of different options to help you select the best screening for you or your loved one. Visit http://www.adamhscc.org/screening  to access the screening tool.

And of course, the Benjamin Rose website has a variety or resources for older adults and family caregivers. Learn more by clicking on the links below: