The end of summer approaches, but for most individuals across the country, the season has not brought its staple feeling of restful pleasure and rejuvenation. Even for those who have remained healthy this year, COVID-19 has left many longing for the care-free public outings of summers past.
Earlier this month, Governor Greg Abbott spoke to the community at a press conference, referring to the weariness surrounding the pandemic as “COVID-fatigue.”
“People have had an altered state of life for the past few months, one that requires wearing a mask, one that requires staying at home if at all possible and one that reduces your level of interactivity with others—and that’s a challenge,” Abbott explained. “It is easy to get a sense of fatigue; it is easy to want to stop having to comply with those standards.”
Ron Cook, D.O., professor for Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC) School of Medicine and public health authority for the City of Lubbock Health Department, was one of the health care professionals present at the press conference. In conversation with Intentional Living’s Terri Furman, Cook spoke directly about the “COVID-fatigue” phenomenon, informing West Texas that this is a common frustration in today’s climate.
“We’re tired of being cooped up, we’re tired of being careful,” said Cook, who added that it can be difficult to discuss these feelings with others when many individuals are staunchly divided in their opinions about COVID-19 safety.
Despite an array of adamant opinions throughout the state, Governor Abbott warned that Texas needs to be of the same mind regarding discipline and keeping up these safety measures.
“COVID-19 still exists in Lubbock, it still exists in Texas and it still exists globally. If people do not continue—in a very disciplined way—to maintain the highest level of standards, what you will see is an acceleration of the expansion of COVID-19,” Abbott said.
This message holds particular importance as the Labor Day weekend draws near. Abbott expressed that Memorial Day celebrations resulted in a spike of COVID cases—something that West Texas needs to avoid in the wake of schools starting and flu season approaching.
“[Memorial Day] was one of the spreading events that led to the increase of COVID-19,” said Abbott. “It is so important for people to not let their guard down during the Labor Day holiday… if Texans and people in Lubbock refuse to let their guard down, especially on holidays, they will be able to contain the spread of COVID-19. They will be able to prevent hospitals from becoming overrun with patients.”
While “COVID-fatigue” is a natural and understandable sensation, Cook encouraged the community to stay strong, advising physical activity and open communication.
“One of the best things we can do for COVID-fatigue is get out and exercise,” Cook said—a recommendation given by many health care experts since the start of this pandemic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity per week, or 30 minutes a day for five days each week.
According to Cook, it is also important to articulate how you’re feeling during this time.
“Talk to somebody about the level of anxiety that you have. Talk to a counselor, talk to a minister, a pastor or a friend.” Cook said, adding that simply verbalizing one’s frustration is a powerful tool in fighting COVID-fatigue. “Just saying it out loud helps fight off the stress.”
As West Texas plans for a relaxing holiday at the end of a less-than-relaxing summer, the governor and health care professionals alike implore individuals to remain diligent with their safety precautions. While that might feel difficult to maintain right now, Cook encouraged approaching all sides of this situation with patience and understanding.
“I can’t fix yesterday and I can’t fix tomorrow—I need to fix today,” Cook said, exhibiting a productive and positive attitude. “Fix the things that you can physically touch, task and work on today.”