Don’t Let Quarantine Fatigue Stop You From Acting Responsibly
No. 1: Reframe your thinking
This may be the nerdiest thing I’ve ever admitted to online, but here it goes. When I turned 16 and got my driver’s license, I was really worried about getting a ticket. Like really worried. So I strictly obeyed all the traffic laws. But in addition, I also made an oath to myself that I would always drive 10 miles per hour under the speed limit. On the freeway, I went 55 instead of 65. In town, I went 25 instead of 35. If the speed limit was 25, I might as well have been cruising around a parking lot. Cars were always lined up behind me, and all my buddies said I drove like their grandparents.
Naturally, I got way over my fear of getting a ticket, got far too comfortable on the road, and within a year I’d been pulled over a handful of times for everything from speeding to not coming to a complete stop at stop sign.
Why am I telling you this story? Because what I went through as a teen actually has a name. It’s called “caution fatigue” and chances are, you are experiencing it right now with COVID-19. Jacqueline Gollan coined the term. She holds two professorships at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine: one in psychiatry and behavioral sciences, and another in obstetrics and gynecology. Dr. Gollan told CNN that caution fatigue “occurs when people show low motivation or energy to comply with safety guidelines. It’s reflected when we become impatient with warnings, or we don’t believe the warnings to be real or relevant, or we de-emphasize the actual risk. In doing that, we then bend rules or stop safety behaviors like washing hands, wearing masks and social distancing.”
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