Sharon Koehler

Stone Industry Consultant

We’re ALL TiredDo you remember, all those months ago (what is almost years ago, now), when the nation was first rocked by COVID–19? You couldn’t turn the news on without seeing people nationwide applauding nurses, doctors and first responders. We were sending them food to eat as a token of our appreciation. We were cooking out in our front yards so we could talk to our neighbors. We were dancing and singing on our individual apartment balconies as a group. We held up signs of support or planted them in our yards. We learned about quarantine and Zoom. We wore masks, social distanced and kept an eye on our more compromised neighbors. We changed our whole lives and we banded together. We vowed to stick together and make it through to the other side.

The problem is that the other side never really quite got here. We caught a glimpse of it and then there were the variants kicking our as*** again. The “other side” sort of slipped away, leaving us with what health care professionals call “COVID Fatigue.”

COVID Fatigue is not what people get when they are sick. It’s what we the people get when both our mental and physical health are overly strained for a long period of time. COVID Fatigue – aka Disaster Stress is what happens when we don’t make it to the other side in what we the people call a “timely manner.”

In the beginning (phase 1), there is the bonding and coming together. “One for all, all for one” (a phrase actually used by William Shakespeare before the Three Musketeers and Switzerland got ahold of it). Hence the clapping, singing and dancing, masking, quarantining, zooming, social distancing, etcetera, etcetera. It seems inherent in us all to band together and fight through the situation at hand.

It turns out that when the situation lingers, phase 2 of Disaster Stress—aka COVID Fatigue appears. It’s sort of the “I Don’t Give a DA**” phase. I don’t want to wear a mask; I don’t want to social distance. I miss seeing my friends and family. I want to go back to work. “Screw COVID …I want my life back.” 

It’s not just you or you or you. It’s most of us. As a group, we are all tired of the situation, and we are all tired of being at least just a little bit afraid of what we can’t seem to defeat. We stop applauding, singing and dancing, BBQ-ing and keeping an eye on each other. It’s not that we don’t care, we are just tired. We spend more time in public, we unmask, we travel and do all the other things we were warned not to do. The stress of the situation takes its toll on our mental and physical well-being. The result is: we cave and start doing the things we want even though they may not be what is best for us. Why? Because we just want our normal lives back, and we don’t much care about the consequences, anymore!

Coping strategiesWhat to do? What to do? Well, according to healthcare professionals, we can help ourselves get through COVID Fatigue. We just need to develop our own personal coping skills. 

The #1 best recommended coping skill is to move. Not move like pack up your house and relocate to an underground cave, somewhere. Move like take a walk, dance to a song or video, go for a bike ride, run sprints in your back yard, take a yoga class, or join a gym. Movement and exercise release endorphins. Endorphins are your body’s way of reducing stress and pain (like a runner’s high). Basically, they make you feel better naturally. No drugs needed.

Change the way you think. Admittedly, that sounds hard, but in this case, we need to borrow from the Serenity prayer that is so popular in A.A. meetings: “Serenity to accept the things I cannot change.” So, unless you have Harry Potter’s magic holly wand with the phoenix feather core, and you can wave it around while chanting a worldwide good health spell, accept the situation. You don’t have to like it or believe in it, just accept that this is where we are. Accepting doesn’t mean giving in. It’s just acknowledging the situation — and acknowledging is the gateway to coping. 

Listen to music. This is easy for me, and I was glad to see it among the recommendations. When I hit my office chair in the morning, the first thing I do is fire up my Alexa and start listening to music.

 My wake-up alarms are set to music, also. I listen to music in the car, getting my nails done, or shopping in a store. (To whomever created earbuds – I thank you.) Music can enhance or completely change your mood and it can drown out the negativity we hear all around us. Whatever you like: pop, rock, folk, classical, etcetera, start listening to it and see how it can make you feel better.

Another good coping skill is to talk. (I know, I know, some of you big, strong guys and gals don’t like to talk about your feelings.) Stress is a funny thing. You can hold it in for only so long before the dam bursts and you won’t be able to control who or what is in its path. You don’t have to talk to a professional. Call your mom, invite your brother for a drink, ask your minister for an appointment, seek out your BFF, your neighbor or anyone else that will let you get the words out. Say it out loud, in your own voice, in your own way. Acknowledge it and own it. Believe it or not, you will feel better.

Finally, filter out what isn’t good for you. Is someone on your Facebook page ranting constantly about this or that? Block them for 30 days. Take a break from the negativity. Is the news seemingly all bad? Turn it off. There is no law that says you must watch the news. Is your BFF constantly complaining about this or that? Cut them off and tell them nicely that you don’t want to hear it AGAIN! (I did say nicely.) Obviously, you can’t lock out all the bad stuff, but you can cut down on how much you absorb. Negativity is a mood killer. Don’t let it kill yours.

Coping skills aren’t one size fits all. Not every one works for everybody. It’s trial and error. You may even come up with something not mentioned here that works great for you. You need to decide what works best for you and proceed accordingly. It’s entirely possible that there is a happier, more focused you under all that stress.

Please send your thoughts on this article to Sharon Koehler at