Is It Time for Another Pandemic-Inspired Mental Health Check?

A dude fatigued and passed out on a couch

When the pandemic first struck in the Spring of 2020, few of us expected it to last this long. But as the Omicron variant now rages across the globe, once again we find ourselves confronted with daily news reports. For some people, such news no longer has much of an impact as repeated alarms have created a numb feeling. After so many waves of COVID, burnout and fatigue have led to apathy and feelings of helplessness. Thus, it’s no wonder many of us are now experiencing pandemic burnout symptoms on a regular basis. This is why it might be time for another mental health check as a result of the pandemic’s persistence.

In some ways, a little bit of detachment might be healthy when it comes to pandemic worry. Becoming obsessed with the latest COVID case statistics and deaths isn’t necessarily healthy. But at the same time, burnout and fatigue can result in risky behaviors that place us in harm’s way. This not only involves mental health conditions like chronic depression and anxiety. But it also can result in situations that increase the chances of contracting COVID. With this in mind, it’s important to recognize pandemic burnout symptoms and what you can do to avoid them. These insights can go a long way in promoting both better mental health and physical wellness.

What Is Burnout?

Believe it or not, the term burnout is recognized in the medical world just as it has in everyday conversations. In essence, healthcare providers describe burnout as an all-consuming exhaustion and feelings of detachment that result from chronic stress. Typically, this chronic stress comes in the form of ongoing trauma or uncertainty. The end-result is a progressive sense of hopelessness, helplessness, and fatigue that interferes with normal everyday functioning. From this perspective, it’s easy to see how many of us are experiencing pandemic burnout symptoms as a result of COVID. For nearly two years, we have been bombarded with worries and fears related to the virus. And today, many of us are suffering from burnout and fatigue as a result.

When we consider this kind of burnout and fatigue, naturally healthcare workers come to mind. Faced with the constant demands in caring for patients with COVID, they often experience pandemic burnout symptoms. But the condition is much more far-reaching that this. Parents, teachers, displaced workers, remote workers, and many others are experiencing burnout and fatigue. As a result, increasing numbers of people are becoming apathetic and despondent, believing nothing they do matters. Despite following every COVID guideline, they still find themselves in an undesirable situation. At the root of it all, these are the triggers for pandemic burnout symptoms that many people have currently.

Burnout and Fatigue – The Good and the Bad

When it comes to worry and anxiety, these emotions serve important purposes. They alert us to situations that could impose danger and cause us harm. Over the short-term, this is helpful because it causes us to change the way we act to better protect ourselves. But long-term, chronic worry can be exhausting leading to burnout and fatigue. (Leave worry behind and start living–read this Project Bold Life story!) The fatigue that is associated with burnout can actually be a good thing in some regards. It can force us to accept a new normal rather than constantly trying to return to the past. This same fatigue might also convince us we need to adapt to change rather than continuing to worry. But while these aspects of burnout and fatigue are advantageous, most are not.

A cartoon person with decreasing battery
Burnout and fatigue are real concerns–especially with the pandemic stretching into another year.

In terms of pandemic burnout symptoms, the fatigue experienced can result in a number of negative emotions. For one, we may become depressed as the inconveniences and threats to our wellbeing continue month after month. We may also be more prone to anger as frustration combines with fatigue. Ultimately, this can lead to a sense of complacency where we feel that nothing we will change the inevitable. And with this loss of control, we can feel progressively more helpless and hopeless. These are the downsides of burnout that put us at risk for contracting COVID and for undermining our mental wellness.

Strategies to Prevent Pandemic Burnout Symptoms

Fortunately, there are a number of ways you can avoid pandemic burnout symptoms. Most of these techniques involves taking good care of yourself and approaching everything in moderation. For example, good mental health starts with healthy nutrition, adequate rest, and regular exercise. The stress benefits of exercise have been well-proven. Likewise, getting enough sleep is quite important when it comes to mental wellness. These behaviors as well as proper nutrition can reduce the negative effects of stress to a great degree. As a result, you’ll be less likely to experience burnout and fatigue.

In addition to these common-sense behaviors, other techniques can also help reduce burnout and fatigue. Specifically, mindfulness and meditation can greatly reduce pandemic stress and reduce feelings of helplessness. These practices reduce worry and help us appreciate what’s most important in life. They also allow us to better appreciate the things we can control and the things we can’t. Also, while avoidance can lead to risky behaviors, it’s still important to know your limits. It’s therefore important to stay informed without paying excessive attention to news and social media. These approaches won’t guarantee that you won’t have some pandemic burnout symptoms. But they can certainly help promote better mental wellness over time.

Pursuing Long-Term Self-Care Strategies

If anything is clear, it’s that the pandemic isn’t going away anytime soon. Variant after variant of COVID requires that we continue to take precautions. But this doesn’t mean that we have to spend our time in excessive worry. The burnout and fatigue that follows has many more negative effects than beneficial ones. Understanding this, it’s important to invest in long-term self-care strategies. Healthy behaviors can prevent many pandemic burnout symptoms while promoting optimal wellness. With the light of the tunnel still far away, this is the best approach we can take to best ensure our physical and mental wellbeing.


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Through timely and thoughtful articles, the book Project Bold Life: The Proven Formula to Take on Challenges and Achieve Happiness and Success, and other media, we deliver engaging content that educates, motivates and inspires you to live a Bold Life.
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