RENÉE RODEN: One point seven million Americans are being vaccinated against COVID-19 every day. but New York City is still in the grip of the pandemic. Yesterday, the city recorded more than 3000 new cases and at least 90 new coronavirus deaths.
After nearly a year of restrictions, New Yorkers feel the pandemic fatigue. Many welcome the City’s decision to reopen, despite the risks. Movie theaters will welcome guests starting Friday. And social gathering will double in size later this month.
We're joined today by Allie Hamroff a licensed social worker and psychotherapist to talk to us about pandemic fatigue and reopening measures.
RODEN: Could you just explain for listeners, what is pandemic fatigue?
HAMROFF: So one way I really like to think about it is when we’re exercising we start off and we think we got this and we feel really strong. And then kind of as the reps go on, um, it gets a little harder and we get a little bit more tired.
RODEN: As a mental health professional, have you seen people exhibiting pandemic fatigue who haven't, you know, had, have lost a loved one or, you know, haven't lost a job this year? Are they still exhibiting signs of this fatigue?
HAMROFF: I think everyone on some varying level is experiencing it. I think it's this lack of motivation, socialization, people are just kind of itching to get back out.
RODEN: Movie theaters are reopening tomorrow. We kind of have these signs that things are going back to normal. Is that something that you think alleviates pandemic fatigue or does it kind of create this juxtaposition of uncertainty?
HAMROFF:You know, it's not black and white anymore, I think back to March of 2020, and it was, you know, New York is in a lockdown, you can't do anything. And I think that was somewhat easier for people because it was so clear. Whereas now, you know, things are open and you can do something, but not everyone feels comfortable to do it.
So it's this big question that I get a lot from my clients of like, what's allowed, what am I allowed to do? Will I feel guilty if I do that? Will I get COVID if I do that? Or will that make me feel better by going out? I have found that the people who are socializing, um, in a safe way, you know, socially distanced, outdoors wearing your mask are getting a relief of pandemic fatigue.
RODEN: Is that kind of part of pandemic fatigue is not knowing how to assess risk?
HAMROFF: That's a really good question. That's where we've seen the increase in anxiety in a lot of people of not knowing what safe, what's allowed.
RODEN: If you were to give listeners your top tips for how to assess risk in a way that's going to protect both your mental and physical health, what would those be?
HAMROFF: So some things that I always recommend to my clients is sticking to a routine in your day, and stick to it as much as possible. Because that creates some stability. And this year everything has been so uncertain and that uncertainty can create anxiety.
RODEN: As a mental health professional, what do you think is the most striking outcome of the pandemic from a mental health perspective?
HAMROFF: In March and April and may and June of 2020, it was about: how is this happening? When is this going to end? What do I do? Like, figuring out how to work from home and figuring out how to live with your boyfriend or husband. While now, it's almost become a little normal and I think people are now starting to worry about, wait, what is life going to look like when I go back to work? And figuring out how are we going to reenter the world. And I think that's going to be a bigger challenge than we might anticipate. Yeah.
RODEN: Allie, thank you so much for being with us today.
HAMROFF: Thanks so much for having me.