COVID is still around, but people are getting sick of staying home. Why is it that we can only be careful for so long?

Shift Founder and Registered Psychologist Andrea McTague joins Mark Connolly on CBC Radio’s Edmonton AM show to talk about caution fatigue.

Caution fatigue is the idea that we get tired from being vigilant for a prolonged period of time. This may lower our motivation to engage in activities like frequent hand-washing and social distancing. As social creatures, humans may also find it difficult to abstain from social contact for prolonged periods of time.

In addition, our perception of the threat has changed; at the beginning, it was all over the place. Now, it has become part of our lives, and may seem less threatening. This is partially because there is no physical cue of a threat (like a scary bear) for many people during a pandemic. The gradual weakening of a response like fear is called response extinction.

To maintain cautious habits, without living in a constant state of fear or anxiety, Andrea suggests finding a way to mitigate competing threats, such as the disease itself, fear of losing relationships, etc. Instead of acting spontaneously, try to pre-plan so that your needs can be met, while still being cautious and responsible.