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How To Fight COVID-19 'Caution Fatigue'

With lockdowns in Victoria, outbreaks in other parts of the country and named hotspots the anxiety of the spread of Covid19 across other communities is increasing anxiety for people.

The mental health across the Australian population is a concern.

Lockdowns, home isolation and limited physical connections are all doable but is caution fatigue creeping in?

It helps to liken social-distancing motivation to a battery. When lockdowns were first announced in March, many people were charged with energy and desire to flatten the curve.

Now, many months in, the prolonged cocktail of stress, anxiety, isolation and disrupted routines has left many people feeling drained. As motivation dips, people are growing more lax about social-distancing guidelines—and potentially putting themselves and others in harm’s way.

Even as we begin the process of reopening, returning to our workplaces and rebuilding the economy, it’s crucial that people continue to follow local health authority social-distancing guidelines to avoid back-sliding

Here's some tips for fighting caution fatigue. The good news they are all Self Care practices that we can all do. Take the time to plan how you can incorporate them in your day to living, at home, at work and when connecting with others.

Take care of your physical and mental health

You’ve heard all these tips before, but they bear repeating: get enough sleep, follow a balanced diet, exercise regularly, don’t drink too much, stay socially connected and find ways to relieve stress.

If people can address the reasons for the caution fatigue, the caution fatigue itself will improve.

It is also says it’s important to improve your “emotional fitness.” This can be largely achieved by expressing gratitude, either to others or yourself; setting goals for how you want to feel or act; and taking time just to decompress and laugh.

Reframe risks and benefits

As important as they are, goals like flattening the curve and improving public health can be hard to stay fired up about since they’re somewhat abstract. The good news is the community has largely taken to heart the importance of keeping the numbers down. The message has gotten through. No one wants to see what has happened in other countries around the world happen here in Australia.

So it can be useful to think about how your behaviour directly affects your chances of getting sick, and thus your chances of spreading the virus to people around you.

People tend to overvalue what’s already happened, assuming if they haven’t gotten sick yet they won’t in the future. But if your behaviour changes and you have a gradual decline in your safety behaviours, then the risk may increase over time.

Remembering that reality can prevent you from falling into “thinking traps” like convincing yourself another trip to the grocery store is absolutely necessary, when it’s really just out of boredom or lack of planning.

Rebuild your routine

Coronavirus has probably shattered your regular daily routine—but you can still make time for things you valued before the pandemic, like exercise and socializing. Creating a new normal, to the extent possible, can be stabilizing.

Focusing on small pieces of your new routine can also be a helpful way to grapple with uncertainty. If it’s hard for you to think about how long Covid19 and the restrictions that come with it may stretch on, instead focus on the immediate future.

What are you going to do this morning? Are there things you’re not doing that you should?

Make altruism a habit

It may help to remember that social-distancing is really about the common good. In keeping yourself safe, you’re also improving public health, ensuring that hospitals can meet demand and quite possibly saving lives.

There’s something powerful about hope, compassion, caring for others, altruism. Those values can help people battle caution fatigue.

Just like anything, selfless behaviour gets easier the more you do it.

Try small chunks of it. What can you do in the next hour, or today, that’s going to be a selfless act to others? Donating to charity or checking in on a loved one are easy places to start.

Switch up your media diet

Just as you may learn to tune out the sounds outside your window, we get desensitized to the warnings [about coronavirus]. That’s the brain adjusting normally to stimulation. Even something as simple as checking a credible news source you don’t usually follow, or catching up on headlines from another part of the country, could help your brain reset.

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