Did you enjoy the few days earlier this summer when life felt like we were actually on our way out of the coronavirus pandemic?

Mental health professionals in the Garden State are seeing another wave of so-called pandemic fatigue, now that COVID metrics and conversations about masks and restrictions have many wondering whether they're in for another round of isolation and fear.

"It's like having to all of a sudden run a half marathon after you just completed a marathon," said Dr. JD Friedman, a clinical psychologist with New Jersey-based Baker Street Behavioral Health.

New Jerseyans were advised for months to receive the COVID-19 vaccine in order to see a light at the end of the tunnel, Friedman said. And now, with a sizeable fraction of residents being fully vaccinated, it seems the fight against the health crisis has taken a few steps back.

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Once again, he said, people are experiencing a loss of control and predictability. The next academic year, residents recently learned, will begin with K-12 students wearing masks indoors — a move that was not expected when the most recent school year came to a close.

"The curveball that this presents can be very demoralizing for people, and that's what we're hearing in our practice," he said. "That can really take a toll on people, that can increase their anxiety level, it's certainly a stressor that'll take a toll on them physically."

Friedman noted that not all individuals experiencing pandemic fatigue need professional help. It's a mind and body issue that people can attempt to resolve on their own — perhaps that'll be easier, he said, for folks who are vaccinated.

"It's still summertime, you can still go outside, get yourself moving. Take care of your body, take care of your relationships," Friedman said. "Essentially, maintain yourself, because that's really the name of the game at this point."

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